Cats are the most popular pet in the world. It’s no wonder, then, that there are ranches, sanctuaries, islands, and sometimes even cities devoted to appreciation for feline kind. Here are just a few spots you might like to visit this year.
“Cat Island,” Aoshima, Ehime Prefecture, Japan
Aoshima, also known as “Cat Island” came to fame across the internet back in 2015, but it’s actually one of dozens of “cat islands” that Japan has to offer. On Aoshima, cats outnumber the residents 6 to 1! Once a small fishing community, the tiny island has now seen a surge in tourism. Everyone wants to get a peek at the happy island full of sleepy kitties. Another popular Cat Island is Tashirojima, or “Tashiro Island”, which is an island near Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture.
Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, Florida
This sanctuary may be named after its larger residents, but you’ll also be greeted by beautiful bobcats, exotic ocelots, servals, civets, and of course lions and tigers throughout the preserve. A tour of the sanctuary will also restore your faith in humanity. Not only will you learn a lot about so many species of cat, but you’ll also be heartened to learn that Big Cat Rescue only accepts animals once the surrendering organization agrees to cease their cruel operations in the fur trade and entertainment businesses.
The city itself is an ancient port of call dating all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. Sailors would keep cats aboard their vessels to control stowaway rats, and the happy felines would jump ashore once their ships docked in Istanbul. As a result, the city has cats from all over the world. The people of Istanbul have come to regard the cats as their friends and neighbors, collectively feeding and giving medical care to the kitties while allowing them the freedom to live their lives in the wild. Their unique relationship is the subject of the documentary film named Kedi, which is coming to New York’s Metrograph Theatre in February.
New York City, New York
You might not think it, but the best destination for cats is right in your backyard. New York City is full of shopkeeper cats, all with varying levels of fame. From the immortal Matilda, the cat at the Algonquin Hotel who hosts a fashion show, to the late Keetah of Bleecker Street Records who met Grumpy Cat other internet cat sensations, the shop cats of New York have become their own larger than life legends. They even have their own book!
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Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.
photo from Aoshima by Sayoko Shimoyama on flickr