When I asked the neighbors about Mrs. Sakurai and her cats, I realized that the cats were causing such a big problem in this community.

They said problems had been brought up many times as community issues – cat feces and urine, deaths in car accidents, cat fights, mating seasons, trashing gardens, etc.
But there had been little improvement and the problems seemed to be deeper. especially, people who had lived in the neighborhood for a long time in particular had been dealing with the “problem” for decades, and still, it had not improved, and they seemed to have a sense of resignation, disgust, and anger.

I am not particularly interested in animals such as cats or dogs. I neither like nor dislike them. So I am not like animal rights people, nor like people who hate them. I simply encountered this problem and am exploring whether there is something I can do about it.

I don’t like to hear that someone or something is wrong (in this case, the cat). Rather, I want to think about how to solve the problem, even if only a little.

Living in places with different common sense, culture, and history, such as New York and especially Cuba, I was quite a minority because I am Japanese.

In order to live there, I had to come to terms with the “differences” between each person and myself and find a way to understand and organize the things I felt were strange and problematic in a way that made sense to me, and in that way come to terms with them and find a solution within myself.

I always try to think like this.
No one is in the wrong, but when each person clashes with their own ideas and differences as if they are “right”, conflict arises and neither resolution nor peace can be.

Even if something appears “peaceful” on the surface, you cannot know what is really going on in people’s hearts. In particular, in Japanese communities, what is in people’s hearts can be different from what is on the surface. There is what is true and what is publicly stated is often.

In Japan, where it has been considered good to kill your own feelings and ideas and make them fit the other person and those around you, this is a common occurrence, and I am not saying that it is good or bad. I think that this is also influenced by Japan’s climate and history, and its history of agriculture.

I couldn’t get along in Japanese society, so I left the country many times.

I took over the cat (Lyra) that Mrs. Sakurai had been looking after.

Through Lyra, I started to glimpse into the local cat community, and also into human society.

I watched the cats for hours every day, hoping to lure Lyra near my house so I could feed her. People who complained about the cats all agreed that feeding them was wrong. So I made sure not to feed any cats other than Lyra.

As a result, the cats who couldn’t find anywhere to get their meals were raising kittens and got thinner and thinner. The number of kittens had been reduced from four to two.

A friend who saw my post on social media said, “Shoko, I’ll do something about the cats. I’ll protect them, so please keep feeding them until then.”

I believed her and decided to feed the other cats as well.

I stayed near the garbage station where the cats gathered for hours, explaining to my neighbors why I fed them.

Some people looked unhappy, and others said it was impossible to do such a thing. I felt very uncomfortable and even angry. But since I had taken on Lyra, I could no longer remain indifferent to the neighborhood cats.

The cats, no longer receiving food, had begun to rummage through the garbage dump on garbage day.

I trusted my friend. I was sure she would come and take the cats in. If the cats weakened and got sick or injured, her financial burden in the form of medical expenses would increase.

One afternoon, I saw a lot of crows flying. I thought maybe someone (a cat) had died. I had a bad feeling, so I went to the parking lot where the kittens were. The kittens were hiding under a car. There were several crows around them. I tried to catch them, but they were hiding under the car and I couldn’t catch them.

That evening, my friend brought some cat food and some traps. The cats were gathered in one place as if they were waiting for her to come.

The starving cats quickly went into the trap. Four adult cats and two kittens were rescued. Lyra watched them quietly.

That evening I received a message from my friend.

All of the cats had obediently let me apply flea and tick medicine to her. That there was only one male and the rest were female. The mother cat who was raising kittens and the female tabby cat might also be pregnant.

If they were pregnant, and there were no health problems, an abortion would be performed, but if it seemed that they would not be strong enough to withstand the abortion surgery, they would let nature take its course and give birth.

There were many things I didn’t really understand and had never experienced before.

But I believe that those cats were saved.

“You saved those cats. Thank you,” I told Lyra.