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Cat on a one-way ticket to the gods

Tama the stationmaster, Japan's feline star of a struggling local railway, was mourned by fans and elevated into a goddess at a funeral yesterday.

The calico cat was appointed stationmaster at the Kishi station in western Japan in 2007. Donning her custom-made stationmaster's cap, Tama (16), quietly sat at the ticket gate welcoming and seeing off passengers. The cat - who died last week -quickly attracted tourists and became world-famous, contributing to the railway company and local economy.