CAT / INTERVIEWSep 30, 2015

Graphic Designer Masaya Sugamura and his beloved cat Natsume

We are happy to introduce Natsume that has a charming short mustache. Her name came after the famous author “Soseki Natsume” who published a long seller publication “I’m a CAT”. He had a nice but long mustache himself. Mr. Sugamura started living with Natsume since last year 2014 and it is his first time living with a cat. It seems that Natsume changed his images towards cats. We are very happy if you could enjoy the story of Natsume and her owner Mr. Sugamura.


Natsume (Female / Born in April 2014)


Masaya Sugamura (Art director / Graphic Desinger)

Born in Osaka in 1985. Graduated from a product design course at Osaka City Kogei High School. Studied graphic designs at vocational school in Tokyo. Worked for designing advertisements and package designs at GRIND Inc.、RISSIINC. Since the Spring 2012, works as freelance art and graphic designer under the name of “hito_to”. Tumblr Instagram @hito_to


A girl with a short mustache

──What made you have a cat?

Nothing really cool to talk about but I was a bit lonely after breaking up with my girlfriend and I was just thinking about having a cat. Around the same time, some of my friends and I met up and we were talking about how it will be to have a cat. One of them already has and the other one was thinking about it. That cat-chatting was a quite good chance to start seriously thinking about having a cat.

Then, I started looking through the internet for a cat in shelters or cat adoption groups. There were so many adorable cats that I could find and contacted them. However, I found out that there was a rule in some shelters when adopting a cat that you can’t if you are single.


──Well, then what did you do?

I searched on Twitter with “ #petadoption”. I thought there should be some people who need to find someone who can adopt a dog or a cat.

──I see. I don’t know what to say but it’s a very modern way to look for a thing.

I actually found many tweets saying “I found a kitten”. I would say for half a month, I kept looking for a cat in limited regions.


──I can imagine how much you wanted to have a cat. Could you tell me how you met Natsume?

I was searching on Twitter as usual. There was a tweet with URL for Instragram attached. I didn’t know first but found out that if you sort with hashtag on Instragram, you can get to see a list of photos. When I saw Natsume on the photo, I felt like “This is it!!” and I was like “What?! ” What a short mustache she has!! (laughs)


──She always had a short mustache!!

I think she was only a few weeks after birth at the time. I contacted to a person who uploaded the photo right away and asked if she was still looking for a family for Natsume. The answer was yes and I remembered a rule from the shelters so I told her that I am single. She seems comfortable about it and said yes.


──Do you mind telling me what type of person was uploading a photo of Natsume?

She was a hairdresser working in Tokyo. Her residence is in Chiba-prefecture. Her grandmother has a few cats and two of them got pregnant around the same time. So her grandmother and she decided to look for a family who will love the cats and adopt them. So basically she was looking for a family on behalf of her grandmother.


First time to live with a cat

──Have you had a cat before?

Actually, no. My parents got a cat when I moved out to Tokyo. To be honest, I was a dog person before. There used to be a Boston Terrier at where worked before. He was such an adorable dog and I loved playing with him so much like going to work to see him.

I didn’t have good images towards cats as my impression to them was like they don’t get involved with people much, they are not very rewarding to have or I would be more than lonely if I have a cat as they like their own pace.

However, Natsume changed my idea.

──How is she?

Oh, she is super cute!!(laugh)

──So she is your first cat to have. How did you learn about having a cat?

I learned a lot from the internet, books and some friends who have experiences with cats.


──Did she soon remember where a litter box is?

She once peed on a carpet but I moved a toilet sheet in a gain clumping litter to have the same smell. Then, she remembered quickly but scratching.

──Was it difficult to train her not to scratch?

Yes, it took a while. I used to take Natsume to where she can scratch and repeatedly trained her. I had covered lower parts of the walls in the house with scratch prevention sheets. Apparently, I don’t need it any more.


To build cat characteristics

──I think she is friendly. Any reason you come up with?

I’ve read that cats’ characteristics are built around 5 weeks after birth to 2 months. During this period, you need to have cats smell many different people. Then they get used to people, which means they tend to be friendly. I read it from “KONEKONOKIMOCHI(kittens’ feelings)” published by Benesse Corporation.

Speaking of Natsume, she was around 4 weeks after birth when she came to my place. I invited my friends to my place to introduce Natsme. I even threw some home-parties as well.

──It worked!

I think so. A cat at my parents place always hides behind the chest, the cupboard and the table. Natsume is not as cautious as he is.


──You work home. How do you spend a day time with Natsume?

I work with computers all the time so she usually sleeps on a printer. She doesn’t come and snuggle up to me but stays nearby.

──So, she is not a type of cat that snuggles all the time. Does she come to bed with you?

Yes, during the winter. She usually sleeps on or under the couch when it’s warm. Her favorite spot at home changes all the time. I used to make a small space behind the bed. She loved that place so much and became very lazy about getting out of there. Therefore, I shut that space.

──She doesn’t seem like she prefers a narrow space.

When she was a kitten, she always played with boxes but not anymore. I even tried to leave her meal in a sneaker box but she came out as soon as she finished eating, She doesn’t get excited about bags or sounds of plastic papers. It seems like her interests on toys are getting smaller.


She must play a role of the cat in that book!?

──What do you like about her?

It seems like she allows only me to hold her. It feels special and I like that kind of part of her. I also think she doesn’t know how she looks. You know, sometimes I look at her by chance and she sits like a middle-aged guy cutting his nails and watching TV. (laughs) Everytime I see that, I almost said “Hey, you are a girl!!” That even makes me feel that she plays a role of the cat in the book, “I’m a CAT” by Soseki Natsume. That actually attracts me, too.


──How would you describe if she was a human being?

A middle-aged guy!! (laughs) She usually lays on her back. You can see these photos on my Instagram though.


──Do you have anything difficult to train?

She doesn’t understand “OIDE(come here in Japanese) ”. I don’t think it’s difficult remember.

──Do you still train her this?

Yes. I have been teaching her “OIDE” since she came to my place. She somehow remembered “GOHAN(meal in Japanese)”instead of “OIDE” right away.(laughs) Whenever I say “GOHAN” she comes either to her food bowl or to the cabinet I keep her food. Also, she understands her name “Natsume”. She turns at me when I call her name. So, it seems like she remembered “Natsume” and “GOHAN”…


──She must remember things only convenient to her.(laughs) You told me before that her interests on toys are getting smaller. Is there anything she is interested in now?

A cat tent. I traded a cat house to this cat tent with my friend. He had a cat tent for his cat but his cat didn’t like. It was the same as Natsume, she didn’t like the tent. So we talked about it and tried to trade them for a test. Unexpectedly, they like the traded ones. Especially Natsume loves it as much as she dives in. The bamboo center pole was broken once so as the cloth. However, I can’t stop loving it when she puts her face from the roof and says meow.


──She looks good with a bow-tie.

Well, she was wearing a regular cat collar at first. I changed it when she got used to it. I went online shopping and composed many different bow-ties on Natsume’s photo. She is a girl so I thought red or something bright would be nice…

──It is like you do your job, designer.

And the result was…yes. BLACK.


Turned to be a cat person

──Do you have anything you care about her health?

I had Natsume spayed in December last year. Since then, she has been easily gaining weight. Every time I feed her, I measure an amount to make sure she doesn’t eat too much. Now she has about 5 kg but the vet advised me that her best weight should be a little bit lighter.

──You mentioned that you were a dog person and didn’t like cats so much before. How about now? How is like having Natsume?

She is my daughter. One day I would like to have my own child and would like to raise her/him with Natsume.


──It has been a year since Natsume came to your life. Did she change your life?

I wasn’t interested in collection galleries related to cats before but it changed. I started visiting those galleries. Just recently I visited the gallery 『CAT POWER』. I’ve been to a gallery one of my friends organized.

Speaking of cleaning, I am sure I clean my place more often. White colors pretty dominated my place and Natsume has white hair so I didn’t notice at first but her hair is everywhere, much more than I thought. So I vacuum and mop the floors 2 to 3 times a week. Above all else, I turned to be a cat person.


interview, edit Tomoko Komiyama

photo Jun Takahashi

translation Chiyoko Kimura


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