Japan: 'Cat-man' seeks feline equality

Masahiko Suga with his cats on a street Image copyright The Asahi Shimbun
Image caption Feline fine: Masahiko Suga says taking his cats out makes them more docile at home

A Japanese man who wanders around city centres with a pram-full of cats says he's doing it so people treat them as equal to dogs.

Masahiko Suga, 53, has become well-known for carting his nine cats around in a buggy in Kitakyushu, southern Japan, The Asahi Shimbun website reports. He does it to encourage cat owners to take their pets out for walks in the same way as dogs. "I want more people to feel attached to cats and learn how to interact with them," he tells the paper, adding that he's also happy if cat lovers who can't have one as a pet "feel comforted" by playing with the animals.

Mr Suga, a retired former electronics company worker, says taking the cats out and about has other benefits - namely that they've stopped ripping up furniture in his home. "I hope society will eventually give cats the status it gives to dogs," he says. While he's a minor celebrity in his home city, Mr Suga has also taken his well-groomed posse on the road, travelling to the capital Tokyo in a camper van, the website says. Japan is famous for its cat cafes, but figures in 2009 showed that dogs were the more popular choice among pet owners.

Image copyright The Asahi Shimbun
Image caption Snap-cat: The animals are an irresistable photo opportunity for passers-by

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