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River Call

River Call: A piece dedicated to Tamarah Cohen, and her River Cat Mission

It can be difficult to sum up a remarkable and inspiring person like Tamarah Cohen, founder of the Kyoto River Cat Mission, and a long time dedicated supporter of Japan Cat Network.

We want to thank Tamarah for all that she has done and continues to do for animals, despite the difficult area and circumstances.

Those wishing to see more of Tamarah’s incredibly beautiful photos of the Kyoto River Cats, and the nature that surrounds them, can follow her on facebook. Her facebook page details several easy ways of helping to support the work, including an Amazon Wishlist. Better yet, forever be a part of this epic story as it continues to unfold by contacting Tamarah to sponsor (and name) one of the river kitties.

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River Call


Long before the sun does, she rises. The cats are calling. She pedals across a Kamo River bridge, baskets piled high. She answers the call.


We are lonely, they say, hungry. We are afraid, eager, playful, nervous, and shy. Alive. We were unloved, unwanted, invisible, until we met her. Now, she is our life, our love, our happiness. Our only hope. We called, she answered.


Others walk along the same river. Some see, but don’t see, don’t think, don’t care. Some become angry and protective of their path, their park, their place. They will not, must not, share. A kind response to a call for help becomes a daily battle cry. Smashed, broken, stomped upon, and still, she will not be deterred. She answers the call.


A teacher, artistic, smart, and brave. Strong. A communicator. She speaks for the cats, tells their stories. And when their stories are finished, some far too quickly, she tells of the leaving. She is the one to say goodbye, to tell how they have been here and gone.


A quiet student of birds, and the wide patterned sky, she is a miner of moments. Into her baskets, now empty, she collects pebbles for the journey back. Smooth, round, sharp, brilliant, shining, these captured moments return and become an album of many. Each, a monument to long days spent in meaningful pursuit.


A message in a bottle. Look! See this gift of life, that we share, this beautiful tragic determination to live and be loved. This means something.


Now the call is heard far and wide. It echoes across mountains, over oceans. It resonates. Others answer. A kind wind rushes back, whispering encouragement, quietly following a woman and many cats, as they make their way along the bank of a river in Kyoto.


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Author: Susan Roberts

Director of Japan Cat Network Fukushima, Susan is an educator, animal welfare enthusiast, and vegan food fanatic.

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