Walk with open eyes through Tokyo and you will discover that there are many cats here. Few of them have a home, but most are just living on the streets. Of these unlucky creatures many are very shy, probably due to unpleasant actions by humans in their past. They will run away if you approach them and one can only hope that they will have a somewhat undisturbed, healthy and long life.
However, some cats are used to humans and will let you near them if you act non-threatening. While most of them have no real home due to the pet restrictions in many Tokyo apartments, they are fed by friendly residents of their neighborhood. Unfortunately, this means although they might not starve, their medical situation is less bright, because no one really feels responsible for them as they have no actual owner (and who wants to pay costly vet bills for a “stray” animal…?). This means that these cats are neither neutered nor vaccinated and no one will give them medical aid when they are ill.
And this results in the unfortunate fact that many street cats are indeed sick and suffering and no one appears to give a damn. They are “just cats” and many regular shelters and animal control will destroy them. So what can you do?
There are a few organizations that care for the stray and abandoned cat population. Japan Cat Network is one of them. They have plenty of information on their website about what you can do if you find a cat or kittens (including how to make a cheap makeshift cat carrier).
Another animal rescue NPO is ARK Tokyo. They too will help you rescueing strays, but their main center of operation is the Kansai area, although they are in the process of setting up a shelter in Tokyo. Like Japan Cat Network they are also an excellent source if you want to adopt a pet.
Finally, there are two Japanese shelters that can help you if you if you speak Japanese: Yamaneko-an and Help Tokyo Kitty.
Get in touch with any of these organizations if you want to improve the life of abandoned cats. And helping doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to adopt a cat for life — just taking in a sick cat for a few days and giving it medicine and helping the convalescence will make a big difference for this one lucky feline!