May 29

【RocketNews24】Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?

Posted by Michelle Lynn Dinh (Shimane-ken, Chibu-mura, 2010–13), editor and writer for RocketNews24The following article was written by Casey Baseel, a writer and translator for RocketNews24, a Japan-based site dedicated to bringing fun and quirky news from Asia to English speaking audiences.

Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?

Some Japanese apartments are incredibly sparse. In the most extreme cases, your lease gets you four walls, a kitchen sink, bathroom, and that’s it. Oh, you want lighting fixtures, a stove, and air conditioning? Sorry, you’ll have to purchase all that on your own.

As a result, savvy apartment hunters are always on the lookout for properties that include some of these amenities. And while it’s incredibly convenient to find a place that already comes with ceiling lamps, it still can’t match the thrill some animal lovers in Japan experience when they find a new pad that comes with a cat.

While it seems that every neighborhood in Japan has a park with stray cats, not to mention the nation’s multiple cat islands, some 220,000 strays are still slaughtered every year. Hoping to reduce the number of culled felines are animal protection groups such as Tokyo Cat Guardian.

Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?2

At any time, the organization is taking care of some 300 cats without permanent homes. The non-profit organization operates a pair of café-style shelters in the Tokyo neighborhoods of Nishi Kokubunji and Otsuka, but still struggles to find suitable parties willing to adopt all the animals.

Tokyo Cat Guardian member Yoko Yamamoto is looking to change that, however, with her new Cat Mansion program. In Japan, the term “mansion” is used for describing condominiums and upscale apartments. Yamamoto noticed that an increasing number of such properties have been allowing pets recently, a departure from past policies, which gave her an idea: If certain renters are attracted to apartments that allow pets, how much more enticing would they be if they included pets?

Yamamoto thus hit upon the idea of partnering with landlords to advertise rooms that come with an animal from Tokyo Cat Guardian. And in case the promise of “Free cat with this apartment!” makes you imagine some kind of beat-up hovel, rest assured that the apartments are spacious and well-maintained.

Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?3

Yamamoto started by convincing a single landlord to give the program a try, and her initiative has now expanded to 20 properties in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Saitama Prefectures. The dedicated Tokyo Cat Guardian staffer said she’s even had real estate agencies contact her to express their desire to form a partnership.

Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?4

Of course, taking care of an animal is a serious responsibility. Tokyo Cat Guardianscreens interested applicants through an interview process. Those that are deemed to be suitable adopters then visit one of the organization’s two shelters, pick out the cat of their choosing, and move into their new Cat Mansion together. The NPO also organizeslectures and study sessions for program participants to teach them how to properly care for their cats.

The Cat Mansion project has been so successful that Tokyo Cat Guardian next plans to adapt it for boarding houses with shared common areas, which have recently seen a boost in their popularity among younger Japanese renters. In the meantime, Yamamoto is happy her idea is helping more former strays find loving homes, and the dedicated cat-lover makes herself available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for consultation by phone, free of charge, just in case the new owners have any questions about their furry little roommates.

▼ Although we’re guessing she wouldn’t appreciate a call at 2:30 a.m. if your only question is “How can my kitty be sooooo cute?”


Sources: Yahoo! JapanTokyo Cat Guardian
Top image: FC2
Insert images: Tokyo Cat Guardian (123), Ameblo

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