Anniversaries give us a chance to remember significant events, and also to think about where we are now. One such very memorable event is the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that happened in northern Japan eight years ago. When recalling this event, there's a strong depth of emotion still felt by evacuees, as well as their families and friends. Not just when thinking about the day or time the earthquake and tsunami hit, but also when remembering the traumatic weeks, months, and years that have followed. Animal rescue volunteers who participate in wide scale emergency response efforts like this carry the impactful sights and experiences from these events with them for years to come. Though the work can be difficult, these volunteers make life changing differences many times over. One of the worthwhile points is being able to see the results of these efforts on the happy faces of rescued animals, now in happy forever homes. For this year’s March 11 anniversary, we would like to share some recent updates on how our Fukushima rescued animals are doing now.

Choco (a less socialized kitty, rescued from an evacuated restricted area of Namie)

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“Choco has really settled in to our family and has made close connection with one of the boys but is happy to be around all the kitties and often goes to say hello to them all.  She has got much closer to us as well and loves to have tummy tickles. When we give her a tickle she likes to roll and wriggle on the floor in a very cute way whilst purring:).

We have also started picking her up in our arms and putting her on our laps.  She is still not 100% comfortable with that yet so we only hold her like that for a few minutes at a time and then put her down again.  At mealtimes she likes to sit by my feet whilst I dish up their food and often stretches up and touches me with her paws, to tell me she would like her food.  She also likes to join in the playtime when we swish the cat wand around, as well as chasing the images on cat tv.”

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Chibi and Tart (Part of a group of 5 kittens, rescued from destruction at animal control, after their guardian suddenly became homeless.They came from the severely damaged area of Kesennuma. )

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“Chibi and Tart are doing great! Our son Finn loves them. Chibi is less fond of Finn but that doesn't stop him at all from wanting to pet her. Tart is always super patient with him. It's wonderful that Chibi and Tart have been a part of our family since before he was born.They still make us laugh every day! Thanks for bringing them into our lives.”

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Joni and Dylan, now Mikan and Ringo (rescued as sick young kittens from a farm in an evacuated area of Fukushima)

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"I adopted Mikan and Ringo in November 2012 when they were about a year old. A lot has changed since then. We’ve moved three times; from Utsunomiya to Sapporo to a second apartment in Sapporo then to the USA. Mikan and Ringo have now been in the US for just over a year. The biggest adjustment was food. Ringo will eat just about anything, but Mikan still misses her Silver Spoon (銀のスプーン) wet food. She has learned to settle for Meow Mix and Tiki Cat but only the fish flavors. They have a new brother, Ninja, who they get along with very well, though he and Mikan do fight over who gets to sit in the box on top of the cabinets. We’ve tried putting two boxes but only the one will do. And they have a baby sister, Opal, who we adopted just this November at 8 weeks old. Opal has decided that Mikan and Ringo are her parents. Ringo was very patient with her from the moment we brought her home and always let her cuddle with him and groomed her. Mikan took a little longer to come around but they love each other now. They also love the space we have here in the house, though they do still stay close to me. Especially when it’s time to feed them! Ringo still doesn’t like waiting for his meals.”

Fay (an initially very unsocialized cat, rescued from an isolated and restricted area of Fukushima)

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"Fay is doing really well. She’s so much less jumpy and aggressive and has become very used to a wider range of human interaction. In fact it’s fair to say she’s become cuddly! If we sit on the sofa she runs over and sits either next to, or on top of, us straight away. She loves being petted and brushed and has a very loud purr! She still hisses and swipes if someone crosses a line but the line has massively moved and she has perfected the hiss whilst simultaneously still rubbing on us affectionately!

She’s also surprisingly playful. She loves nothing more than chasing a piece of string around and often sits next to her favourite toy and meows at us to play with her.Talking of meows, she’s a lot more talkative too. She started off with a croaky almost silent meow but now has a selection of different sounds for different occasions!She is a delight to live with and has surpassed all our expectations for how socialised and friendly she might become, she’ll sit next to strangers on the sofa and is increasingly calm and trusting.

We’re so lucky to have her!!”

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Kocha (an initially unsocialized cat living in a restricted area of Fukushima, fed for a long while at the side of the road on feeding missions, and eventually brought to shelter)

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“Kocha will never be very fond of humans but she loves her daddy and cat siblings. She takes care of everyone on four legs and is especially close with her sister kyubi. She also loves food and showing her belly. She became more social since she got her siblings. When luthy passed away a year ago, kocha would walk through the apartment endlessly every day crying and calling. Was heartbreaking. Luckily she got kyubi.”

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Cocoa and Shima (Part of a group of 5 kittens, rescued from destruction at animal control, after their guardian suddenly became homeless.They came from the severely damaged area of Kesennuma. )

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“Cocoa and Shima are doing great. They just have so much love to give. Always looking for a lap to purr on. We’re so glad we found them! When not lap sitting, they can usually be found cuddled up together or wrestling with each other.”

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Izzy and Meredith, now Izzy and Tiger (Rescued from surviving alone on an evacuated farm in a restricted area, both desperate for human interaction and very very hungry.)

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“We adopted our kitties in March 2014. Their names are Tiger and Izzy, they are sisters and inseparable. They were our only babies until we had our kids and they adapted to the kids very well. Both are such good cats, they love our children and have patience I’ve never seen any other cats have with young kids! Tiger sleeps with our daughter every night. Both Izzy and Tiger love cuddles, if anyone is sitting, then at least one of the cats are on their lap. We are so lucky that we had the chance to adopt Tiger and Izzy and make them part of our family.”

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Sara (Rescued after ongoing feeding in a restricted area of Fukushima)

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“Sara is slowly getting used to her new life in Canada.  She loves looking out the window and watching the world go by.  This girl loves her treats, but potato chips are her favourite. She will do anything for potato chips!  This morning she let me pet her for the first time.”

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Ippo, now Michael (Rescued from a restricted area, having survived for a year on his own near one of our feeding stations)

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"Michael (aka Ippo) is doing really well.  We've just passed the three-year anniversary of him joining our family.  He's getting a bit on in age, so I've gradually switched him to foods more friendly to indoor senior cats.  Last summer we had a bit of a scare, as he was diagnosed with a large mast cell tumor (MST) on his lower right side.  He underwent surgery and thankfully his MST showed no cancer cells, so no further treatment was required.  His recovery was quick, but he was none too pleased to be wrapped up like burrito for the better part of a month.  He's now back to his usual routine of finding the sunny spot during the day and a warm lap in the evening.  We love him so much!  Thank-you again to JCN!"

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Simon and Petal (Rescued from separate evacuated areas, became close friends in shelter)

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"We adopted Simon and Petal (now called Yoko) about a year ago from JCN. They are amazing cats! Simon loves everyone and everything. He has made a couple of dog friends and spends most of his time on someone’s lap. Yoko is also very sweet. She loves to rub up against you and often follows us around the house searching for attention. They will be making a long journey to their new home in the US this summer. We are so happy they found our family!!"

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Momomi (Rescued from a restricted area, after surviving for a long while, thanks to feeding stations set up by JCN and regularly filled by rescue groups. Currently still in shelter, and cared for by volunteers.)

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“Momomi is very cautious towards people and will run away if you approach her too quickly or while standing up. You might be able to get closer with some food (she loves paste) and a lot of patience, but she will still be scared and nervous, especially if you try to pet her. Usually, if you can find Rupert, she won't be far from there.”

Japan Cat Network is grateful for the loving supporters, volunteers, fosters, and adopters who have cared for the many animals rescued in Fukushima over the years. Please contact JCN for more information about animals still in shelter, like Momomi, or for more information on how you can help.

Tags: dog japan japan cat network VOLUNTEER cat fukushima Animal Rescue animal shelter animal adoption

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Susan Roberts

I'm an educator, traveler, vegan, and animal welfare enthusiast. I'm originally from America, but have been living in Japan for over 20 years.

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