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Pre-Intermediate Instant Lesson

It's Raining Cats and Tourists...

Pre-Reading Activities

A: Discussion
Answer these questions in pairs.
1. What is your favorite animal? Why?
Look at the photos of the animals. Which of these animals are useful to us? How are they useful?
3. Imagine you have to keep a group of animals. (They live in your village.) Which animal would you most like to keep? Why?

Reading Activities

A: Comprehension
Answer these questions to show you understand the main idea of the article.
1. Where are the cats?
2. Who comes to look at the cats?

It's raining cats and tourists on a Japanese island

Tue March 3, AOSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - An army of feral cats rules a remote island in southern Japan. They curl up in abandoned houses or strut about a fishing village. There are six cats for every person in the village.

People brought cats to the mile-long island of Aoshima to control mice on fishing boats. Then the cats stayed on - and multiplied. There are more than 120 cats on the island now. The only people on the island are mostly pensioners who chose not to move to cities for work after World War Two.

In 1945 900 people lived on Aoshima, a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Ehime prefecture. Now the only sign of humans is the boat trip of of tourists from the mainland every day, visiting Cat Island. There are no restaurants, cars, shops or kiosks selling snacks but cat lovers are not complaining.

"There is a ton of cats here, then there was this sort of cat witch who came out to feed the cats which was quite fun," said 27-year-old Makiko Yamasaki. "So I'd want to come again."

Japan gave the world Hello Kitty.  Cat cafes have been popular in Tokyo for a long time, with cat fans who can't have pets because of strict housing rules.

The cats of Aoshima are not picky. They eat rice balls, energy bars or potatoes that they get from tourists. There are no predators on the island so they move around without fear.

People living on the island try to keep the cats under control - 10 cats have been neutered. They don't mind tourists coming, but want to be left in peace.

"If people coming to the island find the cats healing, then I think it's a good thing," said 65-year-old Hidenori Kamimoto, a fisherman. "I just hope that it's done in a way that doesn't become a burden on the people who live here."

Article © 2015 Thomson Reuters Limited. Lesson © 2015
Glossary: pensioners - older people who usually don't have a job any more, predators - creatures who hunt and kill other kinds of animals, neuter - desex (remove the sexual organs) an animal so it can't reproduce

B: Reading For Specific Information
Find the numbers that match this information.
the number of people on the island in 1945:
the number of cats on the island in 2014:
the number of cats for each villager now:

how long it takes a boat to get to the island from the mainland:

the length of the island:

C: Sequencing

Put the ideas below in the order in which they appear in the article. Write 1 - 7 in the boxes.

D: Vocabulary Work
Look at the words shown in italics in today's article. Think about these questions for each word:

Post-Reading Activities
You may do one or more of these.

A: Discussion
Answer the questions in pairs.
1. What would you do with Aoshima? Tell other students.
2. How do people  control wild cats in your country?

B: Language
The article talks about an 'army of cats'. This means a group of cats. (We traditionally might say 'a clowder of cats'.)
We sometimes use collective nouns to describe groups of people, animals, birds or things of the same kind. Here are a few that are used a lot:

a pack of dogs a school of fish a flock of birds
a team of players a crowd of people a class of students
Match these collective nouns with the groups they describe.


C: Language Extension
The headline of today's article says "It's raining cats and tourists...". 
Normally we say "it's raining cats and dogs." This idiom is a way of saying it is raining very heavily.

Find out what these idioms about the weather mean.
I'm feeling really snowed under with homework at the moment.
Take the medicine and rest and soon you will feel as right as rain.
She's feeling under the weather so she stayed home today from school.
Come rain or shine, you and I are going shopping for new clothes this afternoon.


Reading Activities

A: Comprehension - Answers
1. On a remote island, Aoshima, in southern Japan. 2. tourists/ cat lovers.

B: Reading For Specific Information - Answers
the number of people on the island in 1945: 900
the number of cats on the island in 2014: more than 120
the number of cats for each villager now: 6
how long it takes a boat to get to the island from the mainland: 30 minutes
the length of the island:  1 mile

C: Sequencing - Answers
1. There are lots of cats and very few people on the island.
2. Most young people left the island.
3. People can't buy food on the island.
4. Many people in Japan really like cats.
5. The cats on the island have no animal enemies.
6. The villagers work to make sure the number of cats doesn't grow too big.
7. Villagers hope tourists won't cause problems for them.

D: Vocabulary Work - Answers
feral - wild, abandoned - empty, left, not lived in, multiplied - increased, picky - fussy

Post-Reading Activities

B: Language - Answers
litter of puppies, range of mountains, panel of experts, pride of lions, fleet of ships, colony of ants, company of actors, bouquet of flowers

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