Also known as Cat Island, Aoshima is a tiny piece of land along the southern regions of Japan. You may have heard of this place before, but in case you haven't, this isn't your typical island. As you may have guessed, this curious area is known for its cats - and there are a lot of them. It is estimated that the cats of this island outnumber the human inhabitants by a factor of 6 to 1. It sounds outrageous, but the residents are actually quite fond of the furry animals.
The island itself is roughly only a mile long, but there are over 120 cats occupying the land. They were originally introduced to the region as a method of controlling mice. The mice would spread disease through contaminating the food supply from fishermen's boats, so naturally cats were seen as the best ongoing solution. This worked for a while, but after decades of being left unchecked, the cat population spun out of control. There have been efforts to normalize the population through spaying and neutering, but it has proven to be a very difficult and expensive process for a problem that the majority of residents don't seem to mind.
Today, the island is home to only a handful of human residents - mainly pensioners. There are no roads, restaurants, or stores here, so all supplies must come from a 30-minute ferry ride from of the coast of Ehime prefecture. When food supplies were cut off due to bad weather conditions, the human residents started to worry for their own welfare and those of the felines.
The cats of the island are viewed as pets by many of the local residents, so it's easy to see why they would be concerned for the animals when supplies were cut off.
When news broke that there wouldn't be a supply ship coming for a while, one of the cat caretakers took to the Internet for help. Resources would eventually come, but their next shipment would surely not last if another storm were to come through. "However, it's extremely windy in the winter, and boat service is often suspended," stated the caretaker in a post on Twitter.
"Please send cat food to Aoshima. We are steadily running out of food," Tweeted the caretaker.
"Please understand our current situation. There are no stores to buy food here on Aoshima. There aren't any vending machines either. The people here acquire their necessities by taking a boat to the mainland," the caretaker continued.
When the inclement weather had finally subsided a few days later, there was a surprise waiting at the docks for the residents.
Packages of cat food from all over the country were sent to the tiny island.
It was a lot to unload, and the cats were seen all over the docks patiently waiting for a fresh supply of food.
Though patience is a virtue, who could blame these little creatures for being a bit eager?
"Today, I am heading to Aoshima. Over 40 packages are to be delivered. Thank you so very much, everyone, for sending us supplies," the caretaker said in a subsequent tweet.
A few days later, the island started to get overwhelmed by the amount of public support. "Please stop sending supplies (cat food) to Aoshima. We got far more than we ever expected. There’s no more storage room. We'll be fine until April. Thank you all very much."
Thanks to the generosity of people all over the country, the residents of this tiny island can now rest easy.