A cat’s life: Japan’s love of nekos

Being a cat seems super easy, from the way some house cats act all day. Lie in a sunbeam, meow, eat food that someone else made, claw some stuff, meow, sleep, eat, repeat.

And nowhere celebrates the life of a cat quite like Japan. Like, hello, Hello Kitty, anyone? The catbus from Totoro. The shrines dedicated to cats. Legendary Kishi station master, Tama-chan (and the cats that followed her into train station management).

The warm, fuzzy relationship between Japanese people and cats goes back a long way. It’s said that the nobility first owned cats, and they’ve kept that ‘refined’ status both as pets and in the animal world. The maneki neko (招き猫) – ‘beckoning’ lucky cat – also maintains a long-held belief that cats decide our fate and fortune.

If we ever get reincarnated, we want to try living the life of a Japanese cat.

Why? Because it’d be awesome, that’s why.

Everyone would worship us

There’s so much cat merch in Japan. So much. You name it, someone’s tried putting a cat on it. We had a tough time picking examples for this post. But these cat-themed soy sauce plates deserve a mention.

They’re designed with ridges and embossed bits, making some areas of the plate deeper/shallower than others. Pour in some sauce, and see a cute cat appear on your plate.

Other popular cat stuff:

Ancient civilizations worshipped cats as gods. Some day, future generations are gonna dig all these cat-related goods back up and think the same thing about us. If we were cats, we’d be kinda embarrassed about all the attention… but secretly loving it.

We could hang out at coffee shops

Japan’s cat cafes are great places to spend an afternoon. As long as you’re not allergic…

The concept wasn’t created here, but we’ve heard that the first ever cat cafe in Japan was in Osaka. Kansai set that trend! And now Japan boasts over 150 of them, all around the country. They’ve inspired spin-offs that feature other animals, like turtle cafes, hedgehog cafes, and snake cafes.

Cat cafes are similar enough to a normal cafe for coffee lovers, and different enough to attract the neko fans. Pay for an hour or 2 (or more), get a drink, and spend time chilling with cats.

There’s usually a list of names and pics to read, so you can get to know each cat. And their personality. Some might be in a playful mood, and some won’t budge from their comfy spot.

Even cats have dog days sometimes.

For the cats, it must feel like a meet-and-greet that lasts all day. Every day, week, and month. At least it’s not the kind of long, energy-intensive handshake event you see J-idols doing.

Cats at cafes soon learn that there’s no pressure to ‘perform’ or make effort for visitors. Plus, there’s a rule that you can’t wake or disturb a sleeping cat. They know this. They know that once they close their eyes, they’re literally untouchable.

We’ve been on the visiting side a couple times – at a cat cafe, and at an owl cafe that also had cats. Seemed like they were having a way lazier day than us. No cat fights, and no signs of ill health, bad treatment, or a lack of food. The life of a cafe cat doesn’t look all that stressful.

We’d get to sleep in a cute bed

Bet you’ve never slept in a bed that looks like a fruit tart. This cat has. And we’re super jealous.

There’s a mini cushion that looks like a blueberry! This bed is amazing. It’s made by Felissimo Nekobu, a brand that caters to cats (and their owners) in every way. You can order neko goods from their website (and many others) using our item request service.

When it comes to cat beds, cushions, and other comfy things, Japan spoils cats rotten. Check out the selection at any pet shop, and it’ll be far from boring. Some of the beds have cat ears and faces, which is nice and weird. We’ve never seen a bed that looked like a human. Hug pillows come close, though…

A kawaii place to sleep makes cats look even cuter while they nap. It beats having to lie on some plain, boring cushion… like humans. How come we’re stuck with a futon? You bet we’d sleep better inside a strawberry.

If you can’t be the cat, join the club with cat merch

Got cats at home? Pamper them with special, unique cat goods from Japan.

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