Photographer Miyoko Ihara has been capturing the friendship between her grandmother Misao and her cat Fukumaru for well over a decade. The pair have been inseparable since the granny rescued the kitty in 2003. Fukumaru was always around Misao whether she was gardening, cooking, or celebrating birthdays.
The two friends had even become celebrities in Japan after Ihara published two photo books about their many adventures, Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat and Misao, The Big Mama And Fukumaru The Cat Goodbye, Hello. This month, Ihara revealed Fukumaru passed away last year. The family did not reveal the feline’s illness and eventual passing; wanting to spare their fans heartbreak. Fukumaru touched the hearts of many, but it was her beautiful friendship with Misao that made us all smile.
Hello, everyone. Today, as well as thanking you for everything, I have something to tell you all. As you see from the photograph, Fukumaru has started his journey to the heavens. He was 11 years old. He still had so much life left in him. But still, about a year ago on February 22, something happened. And it was on Cat’s Day, too. I had to think of my family’s wishes, and so I have held off letting everyone know until the first anniversary had passed. I’m so sorry for lying to you and saying “Fukumaru is doing great!”. For a long time now, Fukumaru had been battling renal failure. Renal failure is a path that so many cats have to tread. It progressed quite slowly, and Fukumaru had IV treatment at home twice. Even though he was still able to move around, he was unable to eat himself, and so he had to be fed through a tube. It must have been so hard for him. We thought it over as a family time and time again whether it was a good idea to keep him alive through medical intervention. The only reason we decided to continue with the treatment was because we all felt that we could see a strength in Fukumaru’s eyes; that we could see how much he wanted to live. The day before he died, as his drip was being prepared, he let out a “miaow”, as if to let us see that he’d had enough. We are so so grateful to all the doctors and staff at the veterinary hospital. They even laid out large flowers for him. But actually we didn’t even get a single wreath from the people who made the photo-book. It appears that we weren’t going to work together on the next edition either. I suppose the dead are useless. There are probably even those who think it serves us right. And of course I worry about whether or not it was a good thing or a bad thing to have made a book. But the fact that you all loved Fukumaru like this, that in itself was a good thing. I still have so many photos of Fukumaru back when he was healthy. So I’m going to try my very best to bring a new edition out for you all some time! I know we’re in the midst of an unprecedented cat boom, and everyone is thinking about cats a lot, right? I wonder if these celebrity cats aren’t getting quite stressed with everything…Are they being fed and looked after just because they’re popular right now? And what about all those cats that are still getting put down? My suggestion is that everyone should take out insurance for their cats. Regular insurance cannot be used for animal treatment, and the bills are no joke. They may be cats, but they’re family.They have their own purposes, just like we do. When I’d been having a bad day, I’d come home and Fukumaru would come up to me, and say: “miaow!” (cheer up!). He saved me so many times. Fukumaru was like my wonderful elder brother. You really did your best, Fukumaru. Thank you. I’ll see you again some day. Until then, goodbye. Ihara Miyoko