Neighborhood cats

If there is one thing that the duck and I love the most about living in Japan, it’s neighborhood cats! Sure, neighborhood cats are not exclusive to Japan, but nowhere else did we get to take so many close-up photos of them. Just look at how chill the two cats we came across in Kyoto are!

In fact, the cats in our neighborhood are so laid-back that they don’t even budge when we walk past them while they are sunbathing on parked cars, verandas or on a sheet in front of my window (my favorite neighbor by far). Only when they feel a threat from the duck and my gazing eyes will they move and continue living their chill lives someplace else (in the neighborhood). Doing some internet research, but mostly just going about our everyday lives, the duck and I have learned a few things about stray cats in Japan, or, at least, parts of Tokyo, that we want to share on here. Selecting a photographic accompaniment was particularly hard as we’ve taken a lot of neighborhood cat photos throughout the months. But we tried:

Cat help falling in love with meow

To help you recover from this title, here’s a fun fact about animal onomatopoeia (for those of you who did not already know): While, if you ask an English speaker to imitate the voice of a cat you would most likely get a meow and, for a dog, a woof, in Japan a cat impersonator… animalnator… animator… that’s a different thing… whatever… somebody pretending to be a cat would sound out something along the lines of にゃん nyan (now this makes at least a little bit more sense) and わんわん wan-wan for a dog.

chill neighborhood cat

neighborhood cat: taker of cars

Water they doing this for?
That was the first question that the duck and I asked ourselves when we came across the following phenomenon; an internet search provided at least some answers:
Because there are so many neighborhood cats in certain areas in Japan some people are not as fond of them as we are; they might feel disturbed by the occasional, rather noisy, fights between two or more cats or those of one cat and an insect, that mostly seem to happen at night. Or, if they are not taking over cars, cats might pee all over people’s yards and entryways or embellish one or the other electricity pole with beautiful scratch marks which also doesn’t make cats the most trouble-free neighbors.
In order to prevent that lots of locals still (decades after this has been introduced as a way to maybe keep away cats) arrange rows of plastic bottles filled with water around poles or private properties. The effectiveness of this remains questionable, but since that’s not an uncommon sight on Tokyo streets (especially rural ones), there must be some benefit to all those water bottles, even if it turns out to be unrelated to cats…

illuminated neighborhood cat

neighborhood cat: watcher at night

Neighborhood cats, neighborhood friends
Even though stray cats are not everyone’s favorite neighbor, they usually have human friends who help them sustain their free lives of ultimate relaxation (at least in summer – winters can, sadly, be pretty tough). The duck and I are always happy when we see neighbors put out food for the cats to enjoy after a day of chillin’ on the porch.
When we walked around Toyosu station a few months ago, for instance, we were surprised to see a bowl of water and some food under an umbrella that had apparently been left out for the neighborhood cats. Or maybe it was for the neighborhood rats or chihuahuas? (I do hope it was not an attempt to imitate the evil queen in Snow White with all that apple business). At least it looked incredibly considerate and caring:

cat treats?

That shall be all from us for now. Of course there are so many things I could write about cats and about how not all of them are pop-tarts floating around in space while meowing in Japanese, but this post is so beautifully compact (for our standards) and I’m too proud of myself to stretch it out any further.

Bye for meow!

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