On Saturday January 17, 2009, the Tokyo ARK staff gave a lecture at Yamate Gakuin which is part of a semi-annual event. We thank the teachers of Yamate Gakuin for providing such an opportunity and the students and their parents for attending the lecture.
School cat houses
Starting young: community TNR group leads to on-campus club
By Julie Okamoto
About 13 years ago, there were 37 cats at the school. I didn’t really notice them until I got Cosmos, my first cat in Japan. Not long after I noticed one or two cats and started to get to know them, I found that there were three groups of cats on campus.
There were 12 cats in the group nearest where I parked my car, so I started the TNR program there. I was beginning to think I would never get them all done when a man and a woman from the neighbourhood came to the school to tell me that they had been feeding the cats for years, too, and had also started TNR. We soon realized that between us, we had had most of the cats on campus neutered.
Not long after that, I was introduced by the same people to Mikiko, who soon began to coordinate our group. In May 2002, Mikiko, who is a very talented organizer and hard working person, set up a web site and put photographs of all the cats (there were 23 cats by then) with their names, ages, genders and medical information on it. She also set up a blog to detail the cats’ activities. We called the group “Yamate Necology”. (URL: http://www.yamate-necology.com)
We approached the school for permission to put a small kennel on the grounds for the cats, and for our members to come onto school property when necessary. Permission was granted by the school board the same year. Mikiko still manages the web site, runs the blog and feeds the cats every night!
There was a lot of interest in the cats from the student body. We formed a group of students which would feed and groom the cats, take note of any health problems, and alert Necology of any new or unknown cats in the area. We were known as (in-school Necology). In 2005, we applied successfully to be recognized as an official school club and changed our name to Nekorobu (ねころ部).
Our TNR program has been successful – no kittens have been born at the school since Necology started. The cats are beautiful, healthy, and very popular even with the students who are not in the cat club. Our focus on campus is to maintain a high standard of living for them, and to try to educate people about TNR (and neutering housecats!). We also have an adoption event each year at the school festival, which is one of the highlights of our year.
Although we only became involved with ARK last February, our involvement with ARK has given our club new direction. Helping at ARK adoption events is a firm favorite amongst our activities – the cats and dogs are friendly and playful and the staff always make us feel a part of the good work they do. Two of our students fostered ARK animals for the winter holidays and really enjoyed the experience. We also have an ARK notice board which we hope will lead to more interest in ARK from students and parents.