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Thursday, 25th June 2015
In General Japan News,

Japan's stationmaster cat dies at 16

A cat that transformed the fortunes of a small train station has died at the age of 16, or 80 in cat years.

Tama became the stationmaster at the rural Kishi Station in Kinokawa in Wakayama Prefecture back in 2007 and attracted plenty of visitors in her little hat.

The tortoiseshell rescued the station from financial ruin and closure, as prior to her appointment, there too few passengers to warrant it staying open.

After a long time for a cat to be in the role, Tama ended one of her nine lives this week, when she died of acute heart failure at a local animal hospital.

Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of Wakayama, told the Japan Times that 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."

A funeral for the much beloved cat will be held on Sunday (June 28th) at Kishi Station with all well wishers welcome to attend.

The decision to keep Tama on as the sole member of staff at the station came when all other employees were laid-off by the Wakayama Electric Railway.

Her patience and charisma as passengers petted and cuddled her earned Tama the role of stationmaster and her infamy grew.

People travelled from across Japan, a nation of cat-lovers, and further afield to see her go about her duties, with an increase in revenue of ten per cent for the station in her first year alone.

Tama had her own office at Kishi Station inside a former ticket booth and was paid in cat food as opposed to a monetary salary.

It is unclear what the fate of the station will be in Tama's absence and whether a new cat might be appointed to take over her role.