Security guards at a Japanese art museum have been besieged by the most fearsome and persistent of opponents: a pair of neighbourhood cats.
The Onimichi Municipal Museum in Hiroshima, south Japan, has been locked in a war of attrition with the fiendish felines for at least three years, posting updates to its Twitter account as the battle rages on.
Videos posted by the museum’s official Twitter account have been shared tens of thousands of times in recent weeks, gathering millions of views in the process.
The footage shows a tentative stalemate reached by guards and cats, one resilient in their refusal to bend the rules, the other resigned to probing any gaps that may present themselves.
The most famous pair, a ginger cat called Go and a black cat called Ken, have featured on the Twitter account for months. But the museum staff’s relationship with local cats goes back years.
The museum first started posting regularly about the local moggies in late 2015 in an apparent bid to get more followers on social media.
“The cat of the restaurant next door is resting in the museum site today,” they wrote in October 2015, captioning pictures of a pair of cats resting peacefully in the grounds.
Little did they know that these calculating cats were just biding their time.
Cats became a regular feature in the museum gift shop, with cards, badges and umbrellas made by local artists all going on sale in 2016 as the venue held a cat-themed festival of art.
But within months they were over-run.
“Onomichi City Museum of Art is open from 9:00. There is a procession, but the cat cannot enter,” they wrote in May 2016.
The cat exhibition only served to anger the trespassers further, it seems, as all manner of items picturing cats were allowed inside the building but the real deal was not.
“The cat is naughty to the staff as a result of asking the back door of the museum,” reads a translation of a post in June 2016.
By 2017 it was all-out war.
“The battle between cats and guards on Wednesday… goes far beyond our expectations,” reads a tweet in March of last year, showing a black cat strutting down a wall in the museum grounds.
“The black cat Ken is surprisingly muscular,” they added.
As time passed, the museum began selling bags and memorabilia featuring the fearless felines and commemorating the ongoing battle.
“It will be exhibited in the corridor of the entrance of the museum where the battle of cats and guards is also held, and we will welcome you from the morning,” the museum said in a tweet announcing the models.
The museum even went as far as celebrating the cats during a festival of lights and immortalising the ginger and black twosome as yin and yang on a special gift bag.