Stray Cats in Tokyo
March 9, 2010 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Stray Cats in Tokyo as seen by professional photographers.

The group project moved from here, where there are lots more. More from the individual photographers, though not just in Tokyo.
posted by misozaki (30 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Tim Rogers hates these cats.
posted by barnacles at 5:47 PM on March 9, 2010 [19 favorites]

(However, these are great shots. Well beyond the normal "CUTE KITTIES!!!" photography one is used to seeing online. Poor little things need a home!)
posted by barnacles at 5:48 PM on March 9, 2010

ya know, you could take an out of focus, poorly lit shot of a mangy cat in a junk filled alley licking it's butt...and it's still a great shot... thanks, these are good!
posted by HuronBob at 5:57 PM on March 9, 2010

Like a post apocalyptic wasteland populated only by cats
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:58 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

We lived on the other side of a parking lot from a "fish market", which, although it sold a lot of different kinds of fresh fish from all over Japan, was really a big tourist trap designed to attract busloads of tourists and company employees out for the day from Osaka or Nagoya for a company excursion.

We lived on the backside of the market, about 200 yards from the loading dock and garbage pickup point. It was a residential neighbourhood with a few fallow rice fields and a lot of new development, but our house had been built ten years before, when the area was mostly rice fields.

Anyway, every night the cats came to our yard to hang out, fight, and have sex. It was pretty noisy. We got a dog, but the cats came anyway ("Your house has always been the gathering spot for cats," our neighbours said. "And killer wasps.")

The cats would hang out on our covered porch, where we dried clothes and stored cardboard from our move. The smell of cat piss was terrible.

In frustration I would get up at 3am and throw buckets of water at the cats, but they always came back. Our dog would chase them out of the yard, but she was kept inside at night, so no luck.

Eventually I bought a kind smelly chemical rocks that I sprinkled around, and the cats left. It snowed a lot that year, and the drifts blocked the entrance to our porch.

When the snow melted, I saw a little cat paw sticking out from under the corrugated plastic wall of the porch. I looked inside the porch, and the cat had somehow crawled under the cardboard, and had died sometime during the winter. It was squashed flat, but almost perfectly preserved.

I wish people would spay their cats.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:02 PM on March 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

mmm, dinner.
posted by desjardins at 6:03 PM on March 9, 2010

I was sort of hoping for it to be a Japanese tribute band.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:06 PM on March 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was really hoping this post was about this...
posted by markkraft at 6:17 PM on March 9, 2010

But where are the amusing dialectal comments?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:27 PM on March 9, 2010

Barnacles hates making good jokes.
posted by colinshark at 6:30 PM on March 9, 2010

I was going to say that I liked the picture in the sidebar with the cat and the umbrella. Then I realized that once cats master umbrella technology, that is one less reason they need us. Soon the unfathomable ages will look down on our neatly-picked bones.

Turnabout is fair play....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:30 PM on March 9, 2010

Tokyo has stray cats everywhere. It's kind of amazing how many cats I see on a daily basis. Like its people, Tokyo probably has the most cats per capita than any place on earth.
posted by zardoz at 6:32 PM on March 9, 2010

There are a lot of stray cats around Japan. I've got one of them, as my then girlfriend and I would regularly feed the stray mother behind our apartment. She and some of her kittens (the ones that survived... the lifespan for a stray is only three years, and kitten mortality is high, even with a regular source of food) became tame enough to come inside, even sleep inside at night. In the long run, only one survived. The others would go away and just never come back. I stayed in that place for a long time, because I didn't want to abandon my cat, and she's one of the reasons we bought a house, rather than renting a bigger apartment (hard to find apartments that allow cats).

One of my fonder memories of sightseeing in Tokyo was going to Aoyama Cemetary. For whatever reason, the relative safety/lack of people, the bits of food left behind as offerings, cemetaries attract cats here. We were walking around, enjoying the cherry blossoms, and we saw an older Japanese couple with a big shopping bag. It was full of cat food, and the cats seemed to be quite comfortable with them, and the couple fed around twenty or thirty cats.

I wish more people here would do that, rather than lining their property with PET bottles filled with water (supposedly it wards off cats. Did you try that, KokuRyu?).
posted by Ghidorah at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's something to be said for looking at these pics while my kitten, a former street cat, hogs half the couch I'm sitting on. I wish I could show her and tell her she's lucky, but she'd probably just start chewing on my bracelet. Or my hand.
posted by inmediasres at 6:36 PM on March 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

In case you're a bit sadistic, here's some snazzy outfits for cats!
posted by autoclavicle at 6:44 PM on March 9, 2010

I think I'd rather hang out with the stray cats of Tokyo than the stray dogs of Moscow.

Those dogs give me a Rats of N.I.M.H vibe, but not in a good way.
posted by sharkfu at 7:09 PM on March 9, 2010

Aw, geez. Cats nestled in a box askew on top of the trash (recycling?) bins.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:11 PM on March 9, 2010

Aw, geez. Cats nestled in a box askew on top of the trash (recycling?) bins.

What a shame. Throwing away perfectly good kitties like that.
posted by Big_B at 7:50 PM on March 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by casarkos at 7:51 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

These are great! but they forgot this one.
posted by duvatney at 8:07 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like this one, entitled "Traffic Jam."
posted by armage at 8:23 PM on March 9, 2010

Aww, man, if I lived in Japan I would SO be the crazy cat lady, surrounded by all those cats all the time. I'd have to take one home...and then another would show up...and another...until finally the house was full of cats.

And then one day, they'd find my body under the house and the cats sitting out on the porch, acting like they just got there.

The neighbors would know the cats were somehow responsible, but they'd be afraid to speak out, for fear of kitty reprisals.

This is why I can never visit Japan.
posted by misha at 9:02 PM on March 9, 2010

A . for squish cat...
posted by Artw at 9:59 PM on March 9, 2010

Ye gods, these are good but I'm a cat person, so I'll look at anything that has cats. I just noticed that cats don't seem to have a bad side; almost any angle makes them look good.
posted by Alnedra at 10:53 PM on March 9, 2010

Cats too fat to lick their own butt definitely have a bad side.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:31 AM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

The proliferation of stray cats in Tokyo is just further evidence of the decline of Japanese traditional music culture...

For the first few centuries after its introduction from China, shamisen makers had little problem securing supplies of their raw material, and even after the Second World War there were 200 professional cat-nappers who kept the trade in skins. Now that number has dwindled to just two. In the whole country, there is just a single tannery capable of curing cat skins. The situation is so desperate that an association of shamisen makers is lobbying the government for permission to recycle a few of the hundreds of thousands of cats which are put down by their owners every year.

Learn more about this from a 1997 aricle here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 AM on March 10, 2010

I spent some jobless months in Japan with a lot of free-time on a university campus. Every day I would read by the lake, and if the weather was drizzly, in a gazebos along a wooded path between the academic buildings and the neighborhood. Sometimes the stray cats would start gathering up around the gazebo. Some on the bench, others hiding in the bush with tail swishing. If they did, I knew I would soon be joined by a little old lady, humped back, no teeth, grey hair, and all, would come out with water and kitty treats. She had been feeding those cats for TEN YEARS and watching as they got old, disappeared, and bred. She could distinguish between all of them, and the other similar looking ones who lived between the dormitories a few blocks away. It was nice they had good friends, both the cats and the lady.
posted by whatzit at 10:02 AM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

These are cool. It seems to me that stray cats from different areas of the world have somewhat distinctive faces characteristic of their region-- I guess the breeding pool is mainly cats that have been there forever so they get a kind of specific "look" over time. I'd love to see some photographic documentation of this and comparison of the strays of the world. I know that fur patterns in black and whites have regional variation, too.
posted by Maias at 5:44 PM on March 10, 2010

This really makes me think of Muun-kun :)

Not to take away from the problem of feral cats, but this particular one was heart-warming.
posted by rubah at 8:07 PM on March 10, 2010

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