Attention all cat lovers, there are several 'cat islands' in Japan. But before you shell out on expensive flights, check out photographer Andrew Marttila's series of photographs, captured whilst on a visit to Ainoshima last November.
Although in theory, Cat Island sounds like a magical place, in reality it faces many issues. Andrew explains: "I had seen a few Internet articles over the years describing the beauty and wonder of Cat Island and, as a cat lover, knew I had to make the trip.
"To our surprise, we learned that there are actually many 'cat islands' scattered all around Japan, but the one we went to was in the Fukuoka prefecture. After the twenty minute ferry ride to the island, my partner and I realised far too quickly that this was not all sunshines and rainbows; many of the cats were suffering from upper respiratory infections and more importantly, none of the cats were altered (spayed/neutered).
"This lends itself to overpopulation problems, which in turn can have deleterious effects to native wildlife as well as the cats themselves. The local population seemed eager to allow 'nature to run its course', but as animal advocates and cat lovers, survival of the fittest can look very grim indeed.
"It's a complex issue that doesn't necessarily have a singular answer. What we took away from the visit was to remain mindful of our impact in regards to animal-centric destination spots and to share what we experienced.
"Irrespective of the issues surrounding the island, the cats were absolutely marvellous and a lot of fun to photograph. Far from feral, most of them were happy to be pet and have their photos taken.
"It provided me with a very unique opportunity to capture them in such a remarkable environment and I was able to get a bunch of really cool shots over the two hours I was there."
Andrew became an animal photographer after graduating with a degree in neuroscience. We've long been fans of his at Creative Boom, check out Shop Cats of New York and Andrew's gorgeous pet portraits at thegreatwentphoto.com.