In the midst of the global banking crisis, a small Japanese city has a secret weapon to boost its economy: Tama the cat!
Tortoiseshell Tama is the "stationmaster" of the unmanned Kishi train station where she was born and raised on the provincial Kishigawa Line.
But it is not her labours on the platform which have seen the cash rolling in.
It is rather Tama's irresistible charm which has brought tourists flocking in their thousands to the western city of Kinokawa to see the feline worker patrolling in the uniform of her office - a Wakayama Electric Railway cap.
With 55,000 more people having used the Kishigawa Line than would normally be expected, Tama's contribution to the local economy is calculated to have reached as much as Y1.1 billion ($A13.5 million) [US10.9 - Ed.] in 2007 alone, according to a study announced last week.