Ute Ikuta

Ute IkutaOccupation:
Cat lover
Time in Japan:
30 years


For most of my life, I never had a pet. My son had asthma so I never considered having an animal. After he left home, I saw this beautiful Abyssinian and fell in love with it right away. Later I started going to cat shows and that opened the whole cat world up to me. I saw how beautiful and how lovely they could be.

Then I became aware of the plight of homeless cats. Now almost every day, year round, I trap cats to get them spayed and neutered. People call me up and tell me about new cat populations around Tokyo. Most of these people begin feeding the cats and then after a few months they multiply or become feral. So I jump in my car with plenty of animal cages and round them up. It?s a full-time job for me.

My schedule depends on meal times. If people feed the cats at midnight I have to trap them around that time. Many people choose to feed in the middle of the night to avoid criticism from neighbors so I am on call 24 hours a day. When Tokyo is sleeping, I am out trapping cats. From there I bring the cats to a vet who gives me a discount on the operation. Later I always return the strays to the same place I found them.

I also rescue cats and find them homes. Many cats turn up in parks or where people eat lunch and feed them. Often homeless people take them in, feed them and later give them to me. Once I visited a tennis court where cats had begun to appear. The ladies who played tennis had cats of their own and would bring food for the strays. After a while, new litters turned up. I took five from that location. Later in Spring, I found a different population, more kittens had been dumped.

Another time a woman left a cat in a pet carrier in a public toilet. The custodial staff opened it and the cat ran out. I looked for the cat everywhere and finally I found it. It stood at the bottom of a slope, hissing like mad. So I went and got the carrier from the bathroom. I got down on my belly and held on to a tree for support. I waited for 40 minutes until finally the cat jumped into the carrier. When I found the owner, she said she thought the cat would just find its way home. She lived on the other side of Tokyo.

The rest of my time is spent setting up bazaars to make money for the operations. We go to all the flea markets in Tokyo and sell used items. Many people cannot afford to spay their cats so we provide the service free of charge on a case-by-case basis. Dobutsuentachi no Kai does similar work and is really effective.

Right now I am studying the Humane Society in the United States, Cat Fancy and other organizations overseas to develop a plan for Tokyo. We can really do a lot more here in Tokyo. Cats are animals just like us and can coexist with human beings in peace.

People interested in adopting a cat should contact Dobutsutachi no Kai at 0425-83-2908.

Ute spoke with Michael Addison.

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