Residents Of Japanese City Warned To Beware Of Cat Who Fell In A Vat Of Toxic Chemicals — And Is Now On The Loose

Published March 14, 2024

The cat appeared to have fallen into a vat of hexavalent chromium in Fukuyama, Japan before darting into the night.

Fukuyama Toxic Cat

Nomura PlatingWorkers found this paw print in the factory, a sure sign that the cat left with traces of the toxic substance on its body.

Cats are known for their curiosity. But one cat in Japan took its curiosity a step too far when it investigated a vat of toxic chemicals in the city of Fukuyama. The feline apparently tumbled into the container, then fled into the night — putting an entire city on alert.

The accident likely cost the cat all nine of its lives, and Japanese officials are warning Fukuyama residents to watch out for the fatal feline.

A Toxic Trail Of Paw Prints

The story of the cat in the vat began on Sunday night, when workers at the Nomura Plating factory in Fukuyama noticed a cat dashing across the screen on their surveillance footage.

Shortly thereafter, they made an even more unsettling discovery: yellow-brown paw prints on the concrete floors.

Cat Paw Prints

Nomura PlatingThe line of paw prints was a disturbing sign that the cat was spreading a toxic substance.

To their alarm, the workers realized that the cat must have fallen into a container of toxic chemicals. They believe that the unfortunate feline somehow tumbled into an 11-foot-tall vat of metal plating solution that contained hexavalent chromium. Though a sheet had been placed over the vat, the cover had somehow been turned over.

“We immediately alerted police, the Fukuyama city and neighbours near our factory,” a representative of the company told Agence France-Presse. The representative added: “The incident woke us up to the need to take measures to prevent small animals like cats from sneaking in, which is something we had never anticipated before.”

With that, the search for the cat began.

A City On Alert For A Toxic Cat

As The Washington Post reports, the cat that fled Nomura Plating factory was likely covered in hexavalent chromium. This was, of course, bad for the cat. But it also put any humans who crossed its path in danger.

Hexavalent chromium, which happens to be the chemical at the center of the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, is highly toxic and is normally handled by workers wearing masks and rubber gloves.

Cat In Surveillance Footage

Nomura PlatingThe cat was caught on video darting across the grounds of the Nomura Plating factory, but then it disappeared into the night.

The Washington Post reports that it can cause rashes and irritation to the eyes and skin, as well as lung cancer. Ingesting the substance can also cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and heart failure, and it can damage the gut, liver, and kidneys. In some cases, it can be fatal.

At the moment, city officials aren’t sure if the cat is dead or alive. (Though, given its exposure to toxic chemicals, it likely perished.) They’re warning people against approaching cats that seem ill or at all abnormal.

The Fukuyama environmental team announced that “any sightings of a cat with abnormalities should be reported to city officials or the police, and people should absolutely not touch it.”

This warning has extended to the city’s schools, where one student told Nippon TV News: “I was told by my school not to cuddle any cats that are unnecessarily cute.”

As of publication, the city has not located the cat. City officials do not know if the feline who wandered onto factory grounds was a stray or someone’s pet. But the search continues.

As the common saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat.” In this case, the phrase is likely — and sadly — true.


After reading about the cat that fell into a vat of toxic chemicals in Japan, look through these places that have been completely run over by cats. Or, discover the story of Fenrir, the world’s tallest domestic house cat.

author
Kaleena Fraga
author
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
editor
Cara Johnson
editor
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "Residents Of Japanese City Warned To Beware Of Cat Who Fell In A Vat Of Toxic Chemicals — And Is Now On The Loose." AllThatsInteresting.com, March 14, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/fukuyama-toxic-cat. Accessed June 16, 2024.