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Japanese National Cat Day 2023: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

Chelsea Mortensen Profile Picture

By Chelsea Mortensen

Cat in the Japanese arches in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Temple

Cats are loved all over the world, but few places love cats more than Japan. There are nearly 9 million pet cats in the country, and cat lovers show their love for their feline friends on National Cat Day every year.1 In Japan, National Cat Day is held on February 22. From themed restaurant meals to viral social media posts, there are many great ways to celebrate.

National Cat Day Japan’s Long History

Japan’s National Cat Day has been around for more than three decades! The day was chosen in 1987 by a poll of over 9,000 cat lovers. There’s a special reason that this specific date was chosen. To English speakers, cats say “meow,” but in Japan, they say “nyan.” In Japanese, the date “2/22” can be pronounced as “nyan nyan nyan.” So, February 22 is “Meow Meow Meow” Day! Ever since it was designated a national cat day, cat lovers all across the country have gathered to celebrate their feline friends.

Even big businesses have gotten in on the fun: For the past several years, Disney Japan has called it “Marie Day” after the elegant kitten from “The Aristocats.”

Cat in Japan
Image Credit: Pabkov, Shutterstock

The 3 Ways That Japan Celebrates Its Cats

1. Festive Foodstuffs

In the U.S., we might see green doughnuts for sale on St. Patrick’s Day or bunny-shaped chocolates for Easter. But in Japan, you might see special cat day foods for sale every February 22. From cat-shaped pastries to delicious rice balls, themed foods are a staple of Cat Day. You can buy a cat-themed treat or make your own!

2. Social Media Celebration

If you’re in Japan, your social media might see a few unique trends on Cat Day. Of course, cat appreciation posts dominate. People post their favorite photos of their cats, take selfies while wearing cat ears, and share pictures of their Cat Day celebrations.

social media apps
Image Credit: LoboStudioHamburg, Pixabay

3. Pet Pampering

If you have a cat, you can take the time to spoil them on Cat Day. Some pet owners will find special treats and toys for sale, and others buy cute outfits for their felines—though their cats may not consider that as pampering! Whatever you do, show your cat that they’re loved!

Are There Any Cat Breeds From Japan?

Cats of nearly every breed can be found in Japan, but only one calls the country home: the Japanese Bobtail. These beautiful cats have been around for hundreds of years and are famous for their short tails. Although Japanese Bobtails come in all sorts of coat colors, many are white with a colored tail and a patch of color over each ear.

a japanese bobtail cat in orange background
Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock

National Cat Day Around the World

National Cat Day isn’t unique to Japan—it’s celebrated all over the world! In the United States, cat lovers can celebrate on October 29, and Canadians celebrate Cat Day on August 9. But nowhere rivals the celebrations in Japan, where “Nyan Nyan Nyan” Day is a yearly reminder of how important cats are to their owners.

Last Thoughts

Every country has its cultural gems, and National Cat Day is definitely a Japanese delight. Cat lovers celebrate the day with unique traditions and foods. If you have the chance to visit Japan on February 22, you’re sure to see many fun nods to cats. But even if you can’t celebrate in the country itself, you can check out social media to see how people are celebrating it this year!

Featured Image Credit: FOTOGRIN, Shutterstock

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