Beware of falling rocks. Slippery roads. And in parts of Japan and Taiwan, mind the felines!
The island of Iriomote in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture is home to a rare breed of indigenous cat that can be only found on the island, and is suitably dubbed "Iriomote mountain cat" (イリオモテヤマネコ or Iriomote yamaneko). This is a small cat , weighing between 8 and 11 pounds—much like a house cat. But make no mistake, this isn't a pet!
(Note: The above photo shows the house cat and Twitter user Tabineko.)
On the island's roads, there are numerous warning signs that either read "Mountain Cat Warning" or simply, "Cat Warning" (ネコ注意 or "neko chuui"). Some of the signs say "Animal Warning" (動物注意 or "doubutsu chuui"), but show a picture of the feline.
Obviously, signs that say "Cat Warning" just beg for silly photos.
But the reason for these signs is rather serious: the Iriomote cat is critically endangered, with only a hundred or so in existence.
Elsewhere in Japan, cat warning signs are rare (you're more likely to see a sign warning for, say, deer or monkeys).
They are spotted sometimes, however.
The above image, for example, says "Cat Warning" and was apparently taken at the highway entrance in Fukuoka. Isn't the little icon cute?
This isn't the only place with cat warning signs in Asia. In nearby Taiwan, there's a place called Houtong Cat Village (above) that is overrun with feline friends! Here are some photos, courtesy of Flickr user CopyCatko, that show a handmade sign asking people to be quiet and polite—as well as a cat photographing bonanza.
Here are some cats via Flicker user Wunkai. Houtong used to be a mining town, but it went bust in the 1990s. As Amusing Planet points out, the town became popular as a place visitors would enjoy cats in from around 2008, with tourists photographing the hundred or so cats that roam throughout the town.
The village has more official-looking road signs, warning about cat crossings and asking people to slow down for obvious reasons.
Below is a jumping cat sign in Houtong, via Taipei Trends.
If you love cats and traffic signs, you certainly won't find better places to soak up both than Iriomote and Houtong. Just heed our four-legged friends.
To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
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