Earlier this year, cat lovers, train commuters, and residents of southeastern Japan alike shed a collective tear for the passing of Tama, a feline “stationmaster” at the Kishi train station near Wakayama City. The 16-year-old female calico died from acute heart failure after presiding over the station for nearly eight years, clad in a tiny railway hat and collar.
Following a traditional 50-day mourning period, the president of Wakayama Electric Railway has announced that a new kitty will fill Tama’s illustrious paws. Tama’s successor is named Nitama, reports CNN; she’s a fluffy, 5-year-old calico whose resume includes an education from Cat Stationmaster Training School and a stint as Tama’s assistant.
To the non-cat lover, a furry stationmaster might sound bizarre. However, a feline presence is good for the Kishi station’s bottom line. According to Kyodo News, Tama attracted thousands of new passengers to the formerly flailing railway line. And ABC News estimated that both Tama’s presence and the resulting cat-inspired merchandise sold by the station helped channel an additional 1.1 billion yen into the region’s economy.
So welcome, Nitama! We hear you don’t mind wearing a hat. Hopefully, you also won’t mind the tourists and cameras that will now interrupt your oh-so-busy schedule of napping and playing with felt mice.