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Japanese cat given huge funeral

Tuesday June 30th 2015

A cat that shot to worldwide fame after being made a stationmaster by a rail company in Japan has been given a funeral fit for a goddess.

Thousands of admirers and officials from the Wakayama Electric Railway firm turned out to say goodbye to Tama, who died of heart failure at the age of 16 on June 22.

During the service, which was held on June 28, she was elevated to the status of a goddess, according to reports.

The ceremony was carried out according to the principles of the Shinto religion, followers of which worship several gods, including animals.

Bouquets of flowers, cans of tuna and other gifts were left outside the station, while Mitsunobu Kojima, president of Wakayama Electric Railway, also gave her the special title of honorary permanent stationmaster.

He said Tama had contributed an estimated 1.1 billion yen (£5.7 million) to the local economy, while many observers also credit Tama with bringing the Wakayama firm back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Decked out in a specially made cap and jacket, Tama was a familiar sight at Kishi station, which has since welcomed another cat, called Nitama, as an apprentice stationmaster.

Copyright Press Association 2015