The passing of any beloved pet is sad, but when that pet has also saved your livelihood and garnered the love of an entire nation, the loss is monumental. It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Tama, the beloved stationmaster cat of a Kishi station in western Japan. Tampa lost her life due to heart failure on June 22. She was 16 years old.
Tama, a calico, had held the post since 2007. She wore a smart, custom-made stationmaster’s cap and would sit at the ticket gate, welcoming and seeing off passengers at the small station. She quickly attracted fans and tourists, which boosted the economy of the little railway and the town as a whole.
According to the AP, Tama the stationmaster cat was mourned by company officials and nearly 3,000 fans at a Shinto-style funeral at the station. During the funeral, she become a goddess. The Shinto religion has many gods, including animals.
Fans went to twitter to share their grief of her passing with the hashtag, #RIPTama
— Effi Saharudin (@1Obefiend) June 28, 2015
— Feline Frequency (@catfreq) June 29, 2015
It is believed that Tama created 1.1 billion yen ($9 million) into the economy from tourism and merchandise revenue. She is credited for single-pawedly saving the failing Kishigawa Line of the Wakayama Electric Railway, which lost its last human employee in 2006.
Tama will also be enshrined at a nearby cat shrine in August, Wakayama Electric Railway President Mitsunobu Kojima told the AP. He also have the eulogy at her funeral, calling her a “goddess” and a “savior,” saying “it was truly my honor to have been able to work with her.”
There were many tears shed at the funeral, and it’s clear she will be deeply missed by the people who survived her.
Before she passed away, Tama had been raised from stationmaster to “ultra-stationmaster” and vice president of the company. Her successor is Nitama, another calico who has served as an apprentice stationmaster.
(H/T: ABC News/AP)