Originally published at Tokyo Stories, February 2, 2008

When I first saw the cat lying in the path, I thought it was injured, or worse. It was so spaced-out I was actually able to pet it.

Until now, Japanese cats would not come near me. I wondered if I look different to them. But after some research, I learned that cats actually don’t see so clearly.

I couldn’t even tell if “Sleepy” was conscious. Passers-by watched and smiled, unaware the cute cat was clueless. I couldn’t say in Japanese there might be a problem.

Finally, the cat perked up: it yawned.

It looked around, saw me, and closed it’s eyes. I guess the research is correct. I left neko-chan* there, oblivious to pedestrians.

I’ve been going back to this tiny wedge-shaped park around the corner, and have been able to pet the sleepy cat, and a fatter cat acting like a supreme leader there.

The snoozing cat apparently lives in an apartment behind the fence, and the commander cat lives in a box with a top.

The roomy cardboard kitty shelter had been undergoing remodeling.

The first day, it was a simple tape-reinforced cardboard box. A few days later, renovations to the roof were evident, and the box had acquired plastic-bag siding. Carpeting had been installed inside.

Someone had gone to a lot of effort to make a warm cat house. (After all that, they ought to have just adopted the cat.)

But a few days later, the cat’s mansion was gone.

While I was looking around for the cardboard house, a passerby stopped to play with the two cats. She seemed familiar with the routine. I told her the house was gone, and she pointed to a nearby building.

The house had been moved to a storage space under the stairs.

The cats continue to hangout in the park. The top cat shuffles through the fence to his gated home. And the sleepy cat drops and dozes wherever it desires.
Update August 12,2008

I had been looking for the guys but they haven’t been around. I was told the owner of the apartment building has been taking care of them. I shouldn’t worry. There are five cat homes now, under two stairwells. There are also signs posted now warning people not to abandon cats here.

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