Japan has something that many countries don’t have and that is a kitty temple. At the Gotanjo Temple, the monks have taken in numerous feral cats and given them a sacred home to live in. The Kitty Temple of Japan is a favorite tourist attraction, but even more than that, it is a refuge for cats who otherwise would be homeless and might die from exposure to the elements and starvation. At the kitty temple, however, the kitties are well-fed and well-loved by both the monks in residence there and the tourists who come to visit. Yes, everybody loves these cats.
Cats are the most popular house pets in the world, although dog-lovers would of course disagree. But, there are actually almost a half billion kitties worldwide currently. Cats themselves as domesticated creatures go way back even prior to the twentieth century. They go as far back as 4000 years ago when ancient Egyptians regarded them as creatures that were actually sacred.
They also kept the mouse, rat, and other vermin populations under control, which in turn reduced hunger, diseases, and even deaths. This was a big help to ancient Egyptians, resulting in their sacred stature and the fact that cats represented life to everyone in Egypt. They were even worshiped as gods. Anyone found to be guilty of killing a sacred cat would be put to death immediately. Pharoahs would be buried after mummification with huge golden statues of cats in their burial rooms for good luck. They also thought that the cats would be sacred companions all the way into the afterlife. Some cats were also mummified on occasion and entombed with their masters in shrines and tombs. And back then, Egyptian cats were associated with a number of Egyptian goddesses, including Isis, Bast, and Pasht.
So, we fast forward to today and the amazing Gotanjo Temple and you’ll find that the monks that reside there are not only feeding their temple cats very well but also playing with them regularly and making up games that involve kitty treats. And, what do the kitties do? Well, they aren’t tasked with keeping vermin away because there really aren’t any, so their job is simply spending their days taking naps on the omikuji fortune stands of the temple and following the monks around. Visitors can get a special cat fortune that may bring a little good luck with it.
Tourists who visit the kitty temple have the singular opportunity for getting a special kitty temple fortune by petting one of the temple cats and that could very well bring them good luck. Officials say that these temple cats are really quite fortunate since the majority of stray cats in Japan don’t have it nearly that good. In fact, the Guardian of the Abandoned Animals of Fukushima says that people need to spread the word about spaying and neutering to cut down on the number of strays who suffers from homelessness, disease, and starvation.