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Wikipedia's Aoshima, Ehime or Ao Island or "Cat island" says:

The feline inhabitants of Aoshima are fed by food donations from all over Japan. The cats also eat the small creatures of the island and some food from visitors.

The island is roughly 1 mile (1.6 km) long.[citation needed] It was formerly part of Nagahama in Kita District, but as of 2005, is part of Ōzu.

The human population has decreased since sardine fisheries depleted and jobs moved to cities. Currently only 6 human residents live on Aoshima.

and

In 1945, the island was a fishing village with a population of approximately 900. In 2013, the island was estimated to be home to 50 residents[citation needed]. In 2018, Ehime Shimbun reported that the population had decreased to 13 with an average age of "over 75". In 2019, Asahi Shimbun Globe reported that only 6 residents remained on the island.1 The island attracts tourists who visit the cats and give them food.

The feline population of the island has been reported as between 120 and 130 between 2015 and 2018.

In February 2018, it was reported by Ehime Shimbun that all cats on the island would be spayed or neutered in order to lower the feline population as a response to the declining human population. By October, 210 cats had been spayed and neutered, with another estimated 10 cats uncaptured that had been hidden by an old resident who opposed the program.

There are plenty of older YouTube videos of visits to Cat Island showing lots of cats who approach visitors to be petted and likely to be fed.

But now in 2022 is this still an attractive place for a traveller interested in the novelty experience of seeing so many cats? Or is the population naturally decreasing due to (cat) population control measures?


Screenshot from Google Maps

enter image description here

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    This article from March 2022 seems to imply that there are still plenty of cats around. Admittedly, though, it doesn't include the sorts of pictures of hordes of cats that you will see on older sources, so it's not conclusive. Jun 4, 2022 at 13:18
  • @MichaelSeifert some cats are better than no cats; since there's been no further responses I think you can consider posting that as an answer since your source is current.
    – uhoh
    Jul 17, 2022 at 20:38
  • Done. You might want to wait a day or two before accepting my answer, though, in case this gets some fresh eyes and a better answer after it pops back onto the main page. Jul 17, 2022 at 21:26

1 Answer 1

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This article from the March 2022 issue of "Stars & Stripes" implies that there are still a fair number of cats around. That said, the article doesn't include the sorts of pictures of hordes of cats that you'll see on older sources, so it's not conclusive. It's possible that there are fewer now than there once were; it's also possible that the photographer just didn't manage to capture a photo that included a particularly large number of cats.

enter image description here

In addition, the @aoshima_cat Twitter feed (in Japanese) appears to be run by a person who visits the island frequently. While @aoshima_cat does occasionally post pre-2018 photos, they usually seem to be labeled as such, and there are fairly recent posts such as this one from July 8 or this one from June 22 that show a fair number of cats (10+) in proximity.

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Finally, the sources I've found online indicate that the life expectancy of a feral cat in a colony with a caretaker (which would seem to apply here) is roughly 10 years. One would not expect the colony to have died out entirely within 4 years of the spaying & neutering initiative, though it stands to reason that it may have declined in population.

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    Disclaimer: I do not speak Japanese and used Google Translate to figure out the description of the posts by @aoshima_cat on Twitter. Jul 17, 2022 at 21:20
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    I think that if there's anything that google understands, it's pictures of cats :-)
    – uhoh
    Jul 17, 2022 at 22:49

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