The Most Popular Japanese Cat Names

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 07/29/20 •  10 min read
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Japanese cat names are all the rage these days, and no wonder with the popularity of anime and other Japanese cultural phenomena. Cat owners the world over are choosing Japanese names for their cats that are considered mystical, beautiful and unique.

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In this article, we’re going to help you find the best Japanese cat name for your own fur baby! First, let’s take a look at cats in Japanese history and culture to learn more about Japan’s love of cats.

First Cats in Japan

Japan has long been known as a place where people revere and cherish cats. Cats first came to the country between 538 and 552 A.D.—around the same time Buddhism was introduced in Japan. The first kitties were probably brought from India, by way of China, on ships. The very first record about a domestic cat is found in the diary of Emperor Uda (867-931), where he explains the cat came from China.

First Named Cat in Japan

The first record of a cat’s name in Japan is Myobu no Otodo, a very auspicious and important name which means Chief Lady-in-Waiting of the Inner Palace. Emperor Ichijo (980-1011) was the owner of this precious fur baby. It’s said that his cat even had her own ladies-in-waiting who did just that—waited on her paw and foot! Imperial kitties traditionally wore a red collar with a white tag, and there are writings that say the cats enjoyed playing with stings. Not much has changed with cats in that respect!

From this time on, cats soon became quite common in Japan and are depicted in artwork dating from 1053, by Toba no Sojo. Kitties were often used to guard sacred texts in Buddhist temples, and were even given their own pagodas to live in! Eventually, cats were considered good luck and seen as protectors of the home and valuable texts. Only the nobility could afford to have cats in that time. Have you wondered if you dog can eat japanese eggplants? Check out our article.

By the 1600s, cats were everywhere in Japan and were quite common in many homes. At one time, however, the government ordered that all cats were to be turned loose in order to reduce the number of rats in the country. The rats were decimating the silkworm industry—and cats came to the rescue!

Now that we’ve taken a look at the popularity of cats in Japan, it’s time to consider some puurrrfect Japanese names for your own precious ball of fur!

Japanese Anime Cat Names

You’re probably familiar with Japanese anime—this is a style of animation that can be hand-drawn, or computer animated that’s known for its distinctive colorful graphics, realistic settings and camera effects.

Here are some very popular cat names inspired by anime characters (and their meanings):

Japanese Cartoon Cat Names

If you like Japanese cartoons, one of these names might be perfect for your kitty!

Japanese Girl Cat Names

If you’re still looking for a good Japanese name for your cat, and your cat’s a girl, here are some names you might consider:

A lot of these names are found in anime, check out our cartoon dog names list too!

Japanese Names for Boy Cats

If you have a boy cat who needs a name, here are some lovely Japanese names for male cats:

Chinese Cat Names

While we’re considering Asian cat names, let’s take a look at some popular Chinese names for cats!

Korean Cat Names

Next, here we’ll give you a few popular Korean cat names!

Japanese Bobtailed Cats

The Edo period (1603-1867) found Japan isolating itself from the rest of the world. This isolationism even had an impact on the country’s beloved cats. During this time, cats were no longer brought in from abroad, though the Japanese people continued their love affair with cats. As a result, the cat population was allowed to inbreed, which led to an interesting mutation—cats with short tails.

Over time, these short-tailed cats came to be considered a Japanese breed, while cats with long tails were looked at as foreign. Short-tailed cats became the favorite of the Japanese people, but the breed was almost lost during WWII. At this time, other cat breeds were introduced into the country, which led to short-tailed cats becoming rare.

One American woman decided to take some short-tailed cats back home, where she bred and raised them. Later, she registered these cats as a specific breed, now known as the Japanese Bobtail.

Modern Japanese Culture & Cats

These days cats are everywhere in Japan—literally found wherever you travel throughout the country and in the Japanese culture. Some of the most popular cats in Japanese culture include:

Cat Cafes

Have you heard of cat cafes? They’re becoming popular all around the world, but first started in Japan! Cat cafes are just that—cafes with cats. Not only are these cafes a draw for tourists, but they are also a favorite of Japanese who may not be able to keep cats in their small apartments. There, the cats enjoy the attention and playtime received from café visitors, who enjoy loving and spending time with these lovely cats. Have you ever wondered if your dog could eat japanese pumpkin and other japanese vegetables? Search our site to find out.

Cats at Work, Too!

Cats are even a favorite at one company in Tokyo, Japan—Ferray Corporation. The company says the 9 cats help productivity and improve communication in the office! The cats are rescues that have been given fur-ever homes at the office. The company cares for the cats, providing them with everything a cat could want—from beds, litter boxes, toys and more. Of course, the cats enjoy lots of attention, playtime and cuddling with the office workers.

The cats spend their days wandering through the office, doing what cats do—distracting people from their computers, begging to be held and cuddled, chewing paper and more! The company encourages employees to bring their own fur babies (cats) to work and anyone who adopts a cat while working for the company earns a $42 a month bonus! What great benefits for cat lovers!

Day of the Cat

Did you know that Japan even has an official Day of the Cat? It’s on February 22nd each year. This official celebration of cats began in 1987, when the Executive Cat Day committee asked about 9,000 cat lovers to chose a date to recognize cats. The date chosen was the 22nd of February, because the word for two in Japanese sounds like the word “nyan,” which means meow. The date sounds like “meow meow meow” when said in Japanese.

On this day, you’ll see many celebrations and sales promoting cats; however, much of the celebration also takes place online, where people share their cat videos and photos.

There’s also an island where you can enjoy this official Day of Cats—it’s called Aoshima, one of the 12 islands of cats in Japan. On this island, cats outnumber humans 6 to 1! What a haven for people who love and enjoy cats!

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Summing it Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about cats in Japanese culture and history—each country has its own way of honoring cats, but Japan is the only country with an official Cat Day! And we hope you’ve found a great Japanese, Chinese or Korean name for your cat in our name lists.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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