OSAKA--A stray cat called Nyankichi literally used up one of its nine lives simply by being its affectionate self.
The feline was due to be put down after nobody showed up to claim it, but staff at a prefectural animal center here were so taken by the animal that they decided to keep it and make it their mascot.
Nyankichi has even been featured in the prefectural government’s website under the title of “deputy to the center chief” to educate dog owners about vaccination against rabies and other important pet details.
The cat was discovered with a fractured jaw in Kaizuka, a city in southern Osaka Prefecture, last February. It was taken to the animal center in Osaka’s Higashinari Ward, which serves as a pound for dogs and cats that are separated from their owners.
Takashi Horikoshi, chief of the center and a veterinarian, said Nyankichi was about 2 years old or so when it arrived at the facility.
“The cat must have been injured in a car accident,” said Horikoshi, 59. “His left eye is still slightly clouded.”
With nobody showing up to claim the cat, it would have been put to sleep--were it not for the fact that staff at the center were so enamored of its friendly disposition that they decided to keep it.
Nyankichi was even appointed to “deputy to the center chief” by a 51-year-old staff member after she found it sprawled on Horikoshi’s desk and gazing at papers while the chief was on vacation in July.
In autumn, Nyankichi appeared in the Osaka Prefectural Office staff blog that offers information about animals to pet owners.
The animal center euthanizes feral dogs as well as stray cats and abandoned dogs collected from across the prefecture.
Animals that end up at the facility are usually put down about 10 days later.
During this time, the center tries to find new owners for the animals. Staff said that 247 dogs and 67 cats got new homes in fiscal 2012.
During the same period, 418 dogs and 2,078 cats were put to sleep in the prefecture, excluding those in the cities of Osaka, Sakai and Higashi-Osaka.
Horikoshi says that more animals have been taken to the center in recent years because their owners became too old to look after them or were relocating.
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