When we travel, we might often come across abandoned animals. But how many of us stop and do something, to give them a better chance at life? Christian & Eline, two tourists traveling around Japan, found an orphaned kitten. Here’s the full story on how they helped him!
How They Met
While hiking the Takachiho Olle trail in Kyushu, Christian & Eline reached the Mukoyama Shrine. Near the shrine, they noticed a white kitten meowing all by himself. When they gave the kitten their attention, he quickly approached them. As friendly cats usually do, he rubbed himself against them and pushed his paws and face into their hands.
When the kitty began licking their fingers, they realized that he might be starving and was looking for milk. He was thin but seemed to be free from any visible illness.
They played with the kitten and offered him their rice ball — which they had carried with them for their hike — along with some water. He relished the rice as well as his drink. After spending an hour with the kitten and not spotting any other cats around, Christian & Eline considered the possibility that he may have been abandoned.
They turned to the internet for help but were unable to find a quick solution, since most of the rescue organizations were far from their location. During their research, they found a veterinary office in the center of Takachiho city. They eventually brought the kitty there and asked the veterinarian for advice. He suggested that they bring the kitten back to the shrine where he was found, and he gave them some cat-food to carry back with them.
On their way back to the shrine, they asked locals in the area if they knew anything about the kitten or if anyone was willing to adopt him. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to know anything and neither did they want to foster him. Christian & Eline considered bringing the kitten back to Norway with them, but due to his age, this wasn’t an option. With a broken heart, they left the kitten back where they found him, along with food and water.
Even after leaving Takachiho city, they couldn’t seem to get the kitten out of their minds. Would he make it on his own? Was there anything more they could have done? Did they miss some valuable opportunities because of their limited Japanese? Such questions kept bothering them.
So, once again, they scoured the internet for help and this time they posted the kitten’s story on Japan Cat Network’s facebook group, hoping that someone there would know what to do.
Japan Cat Network is a registered Animal Welfare NPO, helping people to help Japan's stray and abandoned cats through trap neuter return, rescue and rehoming. They run a no-kill sheltering program with their branches in Fukushima & Kyoto.
JCN’s admin, Sharon Lacey, read the kitten’s story and quickly reached out to Christian & Eline. She urged them to go back to the shrine as soon as possible, to find the kitten. They were in Hayakawa, Yamanashi when they received Sharon’s message. The message was filled with so much hope, that Christian & Eline changed their travel plans and found a way back to Takachiho. While they were returning, they got a new message from Erin Cushing, a member of JCN. She was a volunteer at a small animal rescue center in Nobeoka city, and was willing to take the kitten there.
Christian & Eline arranged to meet up with Erin at the Takachiho Shrine. They rented a car from Kumamoto and drove to Takachiho, all the while hoping that the kitten was still alive and well. Four days after first finding the kitten, they found themselves back in the same city again.
Since several days had passed since their last visit, it was possible that the kitten wouldn’t be there anymore. To their immense joy and relief, they heard the familiar meowing as soon as they reached the location. The kitten recognized them and went running towards them. This moving reunion was recorded by Christian, as seen in the video above.
They gave him some Tuna and cuddled with him before bringing him to Erin.
“It was a great feeling to leave the cat in safe hands!” - Christian & Eline
Goma's Happy Ending
The kitten, who has now been named Goma, got his well deserved happy ending when Erin took him to Showa House in Nobeoka City.
Photo Credits: Erin Cushing
Photo Credits: Erin Cushing
Goma was initially being fostered by a volunteer of Showa House in Nobeoka City but we have received an update that he has now been adopted by a family in the area.
We hope that this story has inspired you to reach out and rescue the next lonely animal in need, regardless of what part of the world you are in.
All photos and videos belong to Christian & Eline, unless mentioned otherwise.
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Himanshi lives in a Cyberpunk universe inside her head. When she's outside it, she wanders around the streets of the world, in search of the next furry animal to cuddle. When not designing or writing, she's out and about taking photographs of abandoned places and interesting faces.