There’s a Japanese proverb, “Neko ni Koban,” that translates as “Giving a gold coin to a cat.” It’s a metaphor for offering something of worth that the recipient either doesn’t need or can’t understand the value of, but it’s also a telling example of how hard it is to win a cat’s favor. Cats have no use for our money, they’re not impressed by our fashion trends, and even if they appreciate our modern sense of humor they’re too proud to let it show by openly laughing.
With so few options, in an attempt to curry favor, some people offer stray cats food (although not, in fact, a bowl of curry). But might this be causing a problem to the residents of one of Japan’s famous cat islands?
We dispatched our Japanese-language correspondent, Meg, to find out (and also pet some kitties while she was at it).