Curling up in abandoned houses or strutting about in a fishing village, an army of feral cats rules a remote island in southern Japan outnumbering humans six to one. Originally introduced to the mile-long island of Aoshima to deal with mice that plagued fishermen’s boats, the cats stayed on – and multiplied.
Aoshima, a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Ehime prefecture, had been home to 900 people in 1945. The only sign of human activity now is the boatload of day-trippers from the mainland, visiting what is locally known as Cat Island. The cats of Aoshima are not too picky, surviving on the rice balls, energy bars or potatoes they cadge off tourists. In the absence of natural predators, they roam the island without fear.