- Tama the cat, who served as train stationmaster in Japan, has died
- Her popularity saved a struggling train station from financial ruin
Tama, Japan’s famous cat stationmaster, passed away Monday at a local animal hospital due to acute heart failure.
She was 16 — or about 80 in cat years.
The female tortoiseshell’s popularity rose quickly following her 2007 appointment as the stationmaster of Kishi Station, which serves Japan’s rural neighborhood of Kinokawa in Wakayama Prefecture.
But cute as she was in her jaunty little stationmaster hat, Tama’s biggest achievement was single-pawedly saving the struggling train station from financial ruin during her tenure.
Her presence pulled in visitors and fans from around the world, allowing the train line to sustain its service for local residents.
According to the Japan Times, Wakayama governor Yoshinobu Nisaka paid tribute to Tama in a statement.
Tama was a “tourism superstar extremely popular in and out of Japan who contributed greatly to promoting tourism in our prefecture. I am filled with deep sorrow and appreciation,” Nisaka said.
Wakayama Electric Railway president Mitsunobu Kojima said he visited the cat the day before her death and she stood up and let out a strong meow.
A funeral will be held for Tama on June 28 at Kishi Station.
Want to know more about Japan’s beloved cat stationmaster? We visited Tama in 2013 — read our story here.