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In a rare bit of good news emerging from Japan in the wake of last week’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and growing nuclear crisis, it appears that Tashirojima, also known as “Cat Island,” and its feline and human residents have survived.

The small island, located near the quake’s epicenter, is home to at least 100, mostly elderly, people and many more cats, which are valued for their beauty, companionship, and ability to keep the rodent population down in this fishing area. A shrine dedicated to cats exists in the middle of the island, and the location is a favorite of tourists and feline lovers worldwide.

Initially cat lovers feared that the island had been submerged under the 10-meter tsunami that followed the quake, but as the weekend progressed, signs of hope emerged. A few people studied the topography of the island and realized that its highest points were higher than the wave itself. NASA satellite views of Tashirojima also indicated that the island had not been destroyed.

Rumors began to spread that contact had been made with island residents, but there was no official confirmation until this message on the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support on Monday, March 14:

“Just to give everyone an update on Tashirojima, the cat island. The people and cats are safe but short of food. A volunteer looked into transporting food by boat, but the is too much debris in the water. A helicopter is the only way. The army will probably get a helicopter ready soon so we are looking into the possibility of asking them to take cat food too.”

Then yesterday, a comment from Betty on our sister Catster blog, The Cat’s Meow, read, My brothers wife is Japanese and she knows a girl whose parents live in the Cat Island and they were able to get in touch with them. They said that the island sank around 30 centimeters in the water and there was some damage to property, but cats and people are ok! They need help, of course, but the Island is still there.

Discovery News also reported the update.

And today, workers with Japanese animal rescue organizations are in Sendai, near where the earthquake is centered.

For information about how to help animals affected by the disaster in Japan, check this page on Love Meow, which gives information about ways to donate and keep up on the latest developments.

[Sources: Love Meow and Discovery News]