Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > National Cat Day in Japan: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

National Cat Day in Japan: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

black cat in a temple in Kyoto

Japan is a cat-loving nation that has around 9 million feline pets whose rearing dates back to 538 AD. It is believed that Buddhism introduced cats to the country from China and India to protect sacred texts from rodents. In Japanese culture, a cat represents a “Bakeneko.” Bakeneko is a cat-like supernatural entity believed to walk on two legs with the help of a gigantic tail, can talk, and can resurrect the dead.

Today, the holistic creature is held in high regard and has a special day reserved for it. Japan’s National Cat Day is celebrated on February 22.


What Is Unique About National Cat Day in Japan?

In Japan, the 22nd of every February is the day cats receive special attention.

First, the date is spelled as “nyan nyan nyan”—pronounced as “meow meow meow.” As you might be aware, meow is the characteristic sound a cat makes. While it might be a coincidence that National Cat Day is pronounced as a cat’s meow, the date is thus easy to remember.

Second, National Cat Day falls in the last week of Feb when the winter cold is melting away and spring warmth is setting in. At this time, people can spend a few hours in their gardens but not in the wilderness. A cat loves such an environment. Appreciate your cat’s loyalty by sharing moments outdoors.

Thirdly, unlike many national days, which are suggested and lobbied by individuals or organizations, Japan Cat Day was decided democratically. In 1978, a group of around 9,000 cat owners in the Executive Cat Day Committee held polls to decide on the date.

Cat in the Japanese arches in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Temple
Image By: FOTOGRIN, Shutterstock

How Is National Cat Day Celebrated in Japan?

Japan’s Cat Day celebrations are lively. Here is how they do it.

1. Posting cat pictures online

Japanese start Cat Day celebrations by posting cat pictures online. Companies, too, join the fray, and by evening, everything from Japan’s primary messaging app LINE to Twitter is flooded with millions of cute cat photographs.

In addition to pictures, avid videographers record short clips of their favorite cats and post them online.

2. Creating cat-themed items

If National Cat Day happens to be on the weekend, kids will create a variety of cat-themed items and hang them on local notice boards and in libraries. The day might end with a few cosplay scenes courtesy of animated cats.

You will find hotels and shops baking cat-shaped confectionery and selling it to delighted customers. If not showcasing skills through cooking, artists will create sculptures. A good example is the Fukuoka city cat sculpture. It was a collaborative effort of 32 artists who displayed their work to the public.

In spirited years, railway firms celebrate the day by selling commemorative train tickets paired with photos of famous cats. To make the ticket extra memorable, officials may stamp it with the shape of a cat’s head.

lucky cat souvenir in japan
Image By: hong tang, Pixabay

3. Educating people about cats

While the day is mostly reserved for celebrations, some organizations and individuals spend time talking about cats. They educate listeners on how to improve a feline’s well-being and what to do if it has a problem.

In some cases, specialists will visit animal shelters and treat sick and injured animals. If you don’t have veterinary skills, you may volunteer for or contribute to cat-related charities.


What Are Some of the Most Famous Cats Remembered on National Cat Day?

In any celebration, there must be a few exceptional characters behind it. Japan has its own cat celebrities:

1. Tama

Tama was a former stray cat who became an internet sensation after being appointed an honorary stationmaster at the Kishi station, a suburban electrical railway line in rural Wakayama prefecture, western Japan.

Before the cat’s appointment, the sleepy 14-mile-long line was recording losses. It was estimated that at one point, it lost over 500 million yen, equivalent to $4 million annually, thanks to a drying up supply line of passengers. In a bid to shave down expenses, all employees were removed, but Tama remained.

The resilient cat started attracting people, and after a year of her appointment, the number of passengers using the line rose by 10%, according to The Guardian.

Her presence contributed more than 1.1 billion yen ($8.9 million) in what is dubbed the “Tama Effect” before her death. Today, the immortalized cat is a Shinto goddess.

Stationmaster Tama Cat
Stationmaster Tama 20110715 (Image Credit: as365n2, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)

2. Maru

Born May 24, 2007, Maru is a Scottish Fold cat that became a celebrity with a series of YouTube videos. Viewers enjoy the cat’s placid personality, inventiveness, patience, and amusing antics.

Over the years, Maru’s fame and family grew. He was joined by kittens named Hana and Miri in 2013 and 2020, respectively. By 2019, Maru had his own Wikipedia page and was rated the most viewed animal on YouTube with over 405 million views, officially receiving a certificate from the Guinness World Record.



Cats are beloved animals in Japan, and National Cat Day in Japan is held annually on February 22. Celebrations are usually marked by cat-themed events and cosplays. Children draw their favorite cats, while some adults spend time baking or with artistic sculpting. Charitable work in rescue centers is also a great way to celebrate the day.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Mat, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets