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Cats need new home after Typhoon Trami hit their shelter in central Japan

The shelter cats and their "home," the door of which was swept away by the storm surge triggered by Typhoon Trami, are seen at a fishing port facing Ise Bay, in central Japan, on Oct. 3, 2018. (Mainichi/Masanobu Yamaguchi)

Humans were not the only ones to see powerful Typhoon Trami wreak havoc on their homes.

Due to the storm surge in a small fishing port facing Ise Bay in the Tokai region of central Japan, a "house" that was home to 35 cats was also destroyed, leaving the felines homeless. But that is where Kanami Hirabayashi, 35, who has continued to look after the animals, comes in. Now, she is searching for a new place for the cats to call home.

The cats' "residence" was a small structure that connected two rooms, one 13 square meters and the other 10. It was located only a few meters from the port's seawall.

When Hirabayashi visited the felines on Oct. 3, after the typhoon hit the region on Sept. 30, the wall of the cats' home facing the sea was broken and the door on the south side had been swept away by the storm surge. While she temporarily covered the broken wall with a plastic sheet, the house was left exposed to the wind and rain. The cat food and their beds were also scattered all over the floor after the space was flooded with sea water.

All 35 feline residents were safe. Hirabayashi had taken them to her home before the typhoon hit. They relaxed on temporary beds while eating food and grooming themselves.

The cats' home originally was a rest house for fisherman. As the structure fell out of use, Hirabayashi took over the space to shelter abandoned cats 13 years ago. At first, there were only three occupants, and Hirabayshi could pay out of pocket to neuter or spay the felines. However, there seemed to be no end to the number of people who began to leave their unwanted cats at the house during the night. Now, she says she spends over 100,000 yen a month on cat food alone.

Hirabayashi is currently considering buying a used shipping container and set it up in the same location as a new home for the 35 cats. However, it will cost more than hundreds of thousands of yen for the construction needed to make the container invulnerable to storm surge and the salty sea air.

"I want to somehow build them a new home before winter comes," she said.

(Japanese original by Kazuaki Yamada, Nagoya Head Office)

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