There’s a cat whose health I’m worried about. It seems to live at a business on a busy road that doesn’t really have nearby houses. This cat crosses the road in a bad spot frequently and has a worrisome sore on his ear along with some problem with his rear and is quite dirty. However, he has a collar and is clearly fed. I’m worried that given the location, he might have been abandoned, but it could just be the… care method of the owner(s). It’s unfortunately not uncommon. The general location of being at a run down looking business with no other nearby buildings and the way he hangs out on the side of the road (I’ve only noticed him recently) make me think he might have been abandoned though.
What is a diplomatic way that I can ask anyone at the location if the cat has an owner? Should I just go with “Are you the owner?” and then play it off as just asking for the cat’s name? If the cat isn’t abandoned, I don’t want to offend the owner(s). I’ll look weird enough as it is as a random foreigner showing up to this business (if it’s operating even) in the middle of nowhere. Also, are there any social pitfalls I should know about when it comes to asking about pets (especially outdoor ones) in Japan?
I think you’re fine just straight up asking the shop owner if they know who owns the cat. I would just say you’re worried about it. I wouldn’t worry about repercussions, you’re not doing anything wrong! If you’re really worried and they do say, “yeah, it’s mine!” you could just say “oh, it’s cute”.
I have honestly no direct experience with this here, but you could always pick him up and take him to the nearest vet. He might have a microchip they can scan, or the vet might recognize him as so-and-so’s cat. He might be a barn cat, which I’ve noticed are basically ignored unless they’re pretty (in which case they’re adopted out to be housepets), which would explain his rough appearance. I assume that’s a whole-Japan thing and not just around here (sadly).
Honestly though, you should probably just ask the store if it’s their cat. It might be a stray that showed up and the store people just started feeding, which is why it hangs around. Maybe just sorta bring it up in conversation? Is this a store that you’ve been to before?
(also, if you end up adopting this cat, please do post pictures! I’m not allowed to have pets in my house so I like to live vicariously off of other peoples’ )
Thanks! I’m mostly worried about accidentally insulting the possible owner and possibly getting a reputation for being the kind of person to steal a cat… I already get weird looks for stopping by the places where the local cats hang out.
Hmmmm I wish I could give you better advice… Is there a coworker or friend or someone you can ask about the cat? Sometimes I can figure out which outdoor cat belongs to which neighbor based off of the gossip information network from my eikaiwa ladies
This is a difficult one to be honest, cats aren’t viewed in the same way here in Japan as they are in the west, they are either a specific breed that is pampered to death or they’re not and they are just mostly left to rot outside because they’re seen as pests. People aren’t very kind to them for this reason.
You could ask the shop owner but this might alert them and generally I don’t think people like other people getting involved in their business in Japan so I think a different tactic would be the best idea… this place is a business, right? You didn’t say what kind of business but I’d just go in there as if I had a legitimate enquiry for the business and whilst I was discussing that, casually drop in ‘Oh, I saw a cat outside, he’s really cute, is he yours?’
That way, you won’t arouse too much suspicion as a ‘meddler’ and you get the answer you want hopefully.
This may be controversial but even when living in Japan, I don’t think you should get bogged down so much in worrying about what is totally acceptable or not. Obviously this is a case of using your best judgement, and you should of course be polite and kind to everyone you see, but let them stare. I’ve seen guys in Nishinari do much stranger stuff all the time.
After seeing the picture, it occurred to me it could be a house cat with an elderly owner that might not be completely concerned about the little guy being in purrfect condition. It’s conjecture but I’ve seen a lot of these little fellas.
Just go and ask. Say you live nearby and noticed a new cat suddenly appeared, so you’re worried that the cat might’ve got lost. Since you see the cat close to the store you decided to ask if they are the owners or happen to know the owner.