As chief editor of ‘murmur magazine,’ Mirei Hattori proposes new and better ways of living through the publication and promotion of alternative medicine and goods for keeping warm. Mirei and her husband, Fukutarō, live alongside their beloved 4-month-old kitten, Atari. Hattori told us that the new cat has already brought much luck to the family. We interviewed the writer and editor about the charm of felines and the changes her new pet have brought upon her life. During the interview, the frisky Atari ran all around the house.
Belief in Reincarnation
– How did you first come to meet Atari?
“My physical trainer told me about an animal shelter in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, so I went there with my husband one day to see the kittens. The cats there were all so pretty that I really wanted to take each one of them home with me. But then I saw Atari and made my mind up right there and then that he was the one.”
– What made you want a cat in the first place?
“The two of us started living together after we got married last spring. Though we became a family, we were both too busy to really enjoy it. Because we both wanted to take things a bit easier, we thought that it might be a good idea to have a pet to take care of. We also naturally started thinking that it would be nice to live with a cat.”
– On your website （http://hattorimirei.com/words）, you recount episodes involving your previous cat, Domonjo.
“Domonjo was the cat I cohabitated with when I was just starting to live by myself. But then my housing situation changed and I had to take her back to my parents’ house. She lived for about twenty years. There was a surprising thing that happened. In June, about 2 hours before I received the call telling me that Domonjo was passing away, my physical trainer happened to pass along the information about how I could get a new kitten. It’s not like I was thinking about getting another cat right after Domonjo’s passing, but I felt something special about the timing of these events. As far as cat-related things go, they usually revolve around a strange sense of timing.”
– How did you initially come to live with Domonjo?
“When I was about 22 or 23, I was a bit mentally depressed. Even living by myself was a hard to deal with. So I thought that if I got a cat, I would have to take care of it and that would make me a more responsible person. So I went to the animal welfare center and picked up a cat that was about to be put to sleep. She was the smartest cat. Or maybe I’m just overly fond of her. Domonjo was a female cat – and like all girls she was very cautious. However, she would come up to me and lick off my tears whenever I was feeling sad. Domo-chan truly saved my life, she really did. Once she moved to my parents’ place, she acted as a very good go-between for the old couple. She brought so much happiness to my family. I was able to see her right before she passed away. She climbed up on my lap and meowed to me. I think she bade me a last farewell.”
A Cat-lover born in the Year of the Dog
—- When you decided to take on more responsibility by getting a pet, why did you choose a cat instead of a dog?
“I was born in the year of the dog, so I like them as well. However, it honestly gives me a bitter feeling when I look at them. They wag their tails and forever wait around obeying their masters. When I see them like that, I kind of see myself. I feel more comfortable with the distance I can create with cats.”
– Back then, what kind of relationship did you have with Domonjo?
“Living together, we were kind of like buddies or comrades. I was going through a hard time in my life, and Domo-chan was only a few weeks removed from being handed a death sentence. So, maybe it was just me, but I felt a kind of mutual sympathy regarding the life energy that we shared.”
– I see. How about your relationship with Atari?
“I think this time it’s totally different. For my husband and I, he is like a child. You know, he’s that naughty first son. The relationship between my husband and I doesn’t change, though life is maybe a little more lively. We still keep ourselves busy with our daily business but now we manage to have some time to relax – even if it’s just for that quick moment when I pick Atari up and hold him in my arms. And of course we clean our house more often now – thanks to Atari’s shedding and use of the litter box. So I do think this is a good thing that’s happened to us. All of our friends and the members of murmur magazine’s editorial staff love Atari very much. He is going to be on the cover of next year’s calendar. He’s simply loved by everyone.”
– How did you come up with the name ‘Atari’?
“When we came out of the shelter, my husband said that his name should be ‘Atari.’ (‘jackpot’/’prize winner’). He turned out to be the greatest prize we could ever imagine. Atari was the youngest of four brothers, and as is the nature of animals, Atari’s mother stopped feeding him to ensure that the stronger animals survived. So his body is much smaller than most other kittens. At the time I remember thinking, ‘This kitten needs to be raised by human’s hands.’”
– What kind of personality does he have?
“The staff at the shelter told us that he was so friendly that they were worried he didn’t have enough fear. They said that until he grew up, it was probably safer to keep him in a cage when nobody is home. Compared to Domo-chan, he doesn’t seem very clever. However, just today when I was cleaning up the house for this interview, I moved his cage and found all sorts of rubbish underneath. Things like pencils and bottle caps. I think these are his treasures that he collected from all around the house. It’s almost like he’s a little kid (laughs).”
– Do you think he understands your words?
“I think he understands some words. When I say ‘dinner time,’ he responds with a short ‘meow.’ What’s funny is that when my husband gets all excited and talkative about something, he’ll look over at Atari hoping the cat will share his excitement, but Atari is not at all interested in what he’s talking about. He just ignores him. Cats and people live in different worlds – and that’s what I like about cats. However, I also think men and tomcats are very similar. The other day, I had a chance to interact with a bunch of kids. The boys were all fooling around and making a big fuss to get my attention. At the same time, the girls were calm and more realistic. Like, ‘Oh, the boys are just acting silly again!’”
The Cool Existence of a Cat that Knows You Well
– Do you have plans to get a second cat?
“If our housing circumstances improve in the future, the ideal plan is to live with two cats and a dog. So I guess I’m not a complete cat person. I think living with animals is a pure joy. I never get bored just looking at them. Right now, I’m even preparing Atari’s food by myself. Though I do take guidance from a vet. I used to give him the usual dried cat food. However, since I started feeding him my original concoctions, which consist of animal protein-rich steamed chicken tenders or fish mixed with potatoes or a bit of rice, he has become more flexible and his eyes have even cleared up. Just like people, eating food prepared daily with care makes a huge difference.”
– To you, what is the best thing about cats?
“True friends are the people you can share silence with. You feel comfortable with them even when no one is talking. Cats personify this kind of existence. Together, we keep quiet and just lounge around. Yet a nice balance is maintained. It’s like we understand each other, soul to soul. As an adult, I also feel it’s a bit unnatural to not be ‘raising’ something. It doesn’t even have to be your own child – it could be the younger generation at your workplace or plants or anything for that matter. I think taking the responsibility to care for something is a crucial experience – and this comes from a person who has also been under someone else’s care. And I really think that cats are the best. Though my father is quite the image of health, when he was once hospitalized, Domo-chan also became weak. In fact, she passed away two days before he was released from the hospital. Dad couldn’t even say his goodbyes to her. But I think that was because Domo-chan didn’t want to show him her miserable self before she died. That’s a female instinct. That is another amazing thing about cats. Living with Atari, I see bits of this kind of cool character during moments throughout the day.”