Passengers enjoy Japan’s first cat cafe on a moving train

Passengers on a local train in Gifu prefecture, Japan were pleasantly welcomed by meowing companions on Sunday, September 10 at an event hosted by a local train operator and an NGO hoping to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats.

About thirty cats roamed freely on a moving train, where some passengers mingled with the felines while others enjoyed lunch boxes and tea.

Mikiko Hayashi, a passenger from Hyogo prefecture who owns two cats that were strays, said the event is an effective way to raise awareness of stray cats and the situation they're in. Kyoko Suzuno, another passenger who owns cats, travelled from Tokyo just to attend the event.

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Cat cafe on train raises awareness about stray cat culling
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Cat cafe on train raises awareness about stray cat culling

An organizing staff member displays a cat from the window of a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A passenger takes a picture of a cat, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Passengers play with cats, in a train cat cafe, organized on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A cat is pictured in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

An organizing staff member holds a cat in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A rail staff member looks at the train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A woman takes a picture of cats on a window of a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A cat sleeps in the arms of a passenger in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

The train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, arrives at a station in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A cat walks near a window in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A man takes a picture of a cat in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A passenger takes a picture of a cat, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A passenger looks at a cat, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A passenger plays with a cat, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A passenger plays with cats, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A girl pets a cat on a passenger seat, in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A cat walks next to a passenger seat in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

A rail staff member arranges seat covers in a train cat cafe, held on a local train to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats, in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan September 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

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The event, hosted by Yoro Railway Co Ltd and Kitten Cafe Sanctuary, was held to bring awareness to the culling of cats. Although the number of cats admitted to shelters and culled has dropped significant over recent years, some are aiming for no culling of cats at all.

The number of cats in Japan admitted to shelters has dropped by around 70 percent from 237,246 in 2004 to 72,624 in 2016, also dropping the number of cats being culled from 238,929 in 2004 to 45,574 in 2016. In Gifu prefecture, 668 cats, around 80 percent of them kittens, were put down last year, according to the environment ministry.

Dogs are more popular than cats in Japan, but Pet Food Association data shows that cat ownership is on the rise. The country's cat population is now around 9.8 million.

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