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Trespassing in the Borderlands of Ferality: Feeding Outdoor Cats in Osaka
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
Osaka University, Japan
Cats living outdoors are subject to a number of borderlining practices, where their ability to inhabit city streets is contested through a patchwork and often conflicting array of municipal regulations, feeding and caring practices, as well as through national and local projects such as TNR (trap-neuter-return) that manage cat colonies. In 2019, a petition was submitted to the municipal government of Osaka seeking to make feeding wild animals illegal. At issue in the petition were the undesirable smells and sounds from the gathering of crows and pigeons being fed by local residents in public spaces, such as parking lots, parks, and sidewalks. Cats were not specifically named in the petition itself. However, the result of this inclusive bordering of cats within “wild/feral” highlights the complicated enacting of cats as intruder, out-of-place, and/or as potentially cared-for, surgically-altered community cats. In this way, they are ensnared and yet trespass through such neat classifications, and thus their ability to be regulated. This paper explores how non-humans (in this case crows, pigeons, and cats) are allowed to inhabit the urban landscapes of public spaces in Osaka city through these moments of multi-sensory engagements as bordering practices. By moving closer to the ground, this paper also seeks to illuminate how the cats themselves trespass together with the humans that care for them, and how these trespasses across borders continually defines and redefines cats living outdoors multiply through their tenuous and always changing connections to ferality and the spaces they inhabit.