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Celebrating Beckoning Cats
September 16, 2022
September 29th is Maneki-Neko Day! You may not recognize Maneki-Neko by name, but chances are, you are already familiar with this kitty. Also known as Beckoning Cat, Money Cat, Happy Cat, and Lucky Cat, this waving feline is thought to bring good luck. A Bellevue, WA veterinarian offers some info on this beloved icon below.


This cute feline icon has been around, in various forms, since the 17th century. While no one is exactly sure of just how or when Maneki-Neko cats first became known, they have been traced back to Japan’s Edo period. One of the earliest depictions is from 1852, and shows a Marushime-Neko—an early version of the Maneki-Neko—being sold at a temple in Tokyo.


An old folk tale may actually be the beginning of the Maneki-Neko legend. This tale starts back in the 17th century, with a poor monk. The monk lived in a temple with his feline buddy, a bobtailed cat. Their peaceful life was interrupted when a samurai passed through. The samurai decided to go hunting, but his trip was disrupted by a terrible storm. During the storm, the samurai noticed the monk’s cat sitting with one paw up, as though he were beckoning the hunter to safety. As soon as the samurai moved towards the kitty, a lightning bolt struck the spot where he had just been standing. The grateful samurai became a patron of the poor monk’s temple, and even created a statue of the cat. The location, in Setagaya, Tokyo, is considered sacred to this day.


The kitty’s name is quite appropriate: Maneko means Invite, while Neko means Cat. The cheerful felines are always waving, which is a welcoming greeting in the East. If the Welcoming Cat is holding its left paw up, it’s inviting customers into a business. A kitty with its right paw raised is welcoming financial prosperity. The cats are usually sitting down, and are usually holding a Japanese golden coin, which is known as a koban coin.

Kitty Colors

Beckoning Cats are made in many different colors, which all have different meanings. White is for happiness and purity, while black is for safety and protection from evil spirits. Red is for health, and blue is for education and learning. We love them all! Please contact us, your local Bellevue, WA animal clinic, for your kitty’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!