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For years, Hachiko, the faithful Akita dog that waited every day outside Shibuya Station after its owner died at his workplace, has been Tokyo’s most famous animal. Recently, though, it seemed like cat-loving Tokyoites had found an animal celebrity of their own when a cat perched on top of a signpost in Ginza started drawing crowds.

Unfortunately, the scene has gone from heartwarming to heartbreaking with some sharp-eyed observers’ theory that the cat is in actuality being abused by its owner.

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything sinister at all going on. Sure, it’s kind of a mystery as to just how the cat got up there, but cats are good at climbing things, aren’t they? And there’s just something so silly about the feline quietly staring down at passersby as they go about their business in one of the busiest neighborhoods of one of the busiest cities on the planet.

▼ The cat was a huge hit when it appeared on June 29

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Who wouldn’t get a smile out of seeing that? And look, it’s even aware of just how fashion-conscious Ginza is, and came dressed up with what looks like a frilly collar.

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But while pedestrians were snapping pictures to share with friends, a few people realized they’d seen this sort of thing before, when a cat was spotted in the boughs of the cherry trees of Ueno Park and in similar perches in Ginza. The mystery of how that cat got itself into those situations has seemingly been solved, though.

Witnesses say they saw the cat’s owner tossing the animal into trees too high for it to climb up into regularly. In the event that you’re not a terrible person and have never tried to throw a struggling pet, it’s apparently a difficult feat to pull off, so the owner attached a clip to the back of the animal’s neck that he could hold onto for a better grip, which he concealed by placing a hair scrunchy around it.

Some say the recently seen Ginza cat’s accessory is serving the same purpose.

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If this new feline is indeed suffering the same treatment as the one from a few years ago, it’s likely that it’s not sitting atop the Miyuki Dori street sign because it feels like taking a nap or casually watching the beautiful people of Ginza as they stroll by, but because it doesn’t have any idea how to get down.

So while your first instinct may be to snap a picture to share online, what that cat may really need is help. If you spot it, inform the officers at the nearest police box. We’d recommend the same course of action should you spot its owner flinging it around, unless of course you just feel like slapping him yourself.

Sources: Twitter (1, 2, 3)
Images: Twitter
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