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Why Are Cats More Popular Than Dogs in Japan? Interesting Answer!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cat in Japan

It’s no secret that cats reign supreme in Japan! While dogs are certainly not absent from the country, it seems cats have a certain edge in popularity. But why is this? What has made cats such a beloved pet for centuries in Japan?

To answer this question, we must look at the cultural and practical factors that make cats such perfect pets for the people of Japan.

This article will uncover why cats are more beloved than dogs in Japan, delving deep into its cultural aspects. A unique exploration awaits!

Cultural Factors

The history of cats in Japan stretches far back. In the Heian period (794–1185), cats were kept as pets and were highly prized by royalty. Cats also had a close association with religion and were seen as the messengers of gods in Shintoism and protectors of Buddhist temples.

This reverence for cats is reflected in Japanese art and literature, where cats often appear as wise creatures. The idea of “cute” or kawaii culture has also played a role in the popularity of cats in Japan.

The concept of cuteness is deeply rooted in Japanese society, and cats are seen as the epitome of adorable creatures. From cat cafes to merchandise featuring cats, there’s no denying that cats have become a big part of the culture in Japan.

Cat in Japan with Buddhist
Image Credit: SAND555UG, Shutterstock

Practical Factors

When it comes to pet ownership, practical factors also come into play. Cats are generally easier to take care of than dogs as they require less space and time commitment—something that is particularly appealing in a country where many people live in small apartments.

The aging population in Japan has also had an impact on pet ownership preferences. Since cats are not as demanding as dogs, they can be a better option for elderly people seeking companionship. Plus, the popularity of apartment living in Japan and strict regulations regarding pet ownership make cats more appealing than larger animals like dogs.

Counterargument: The Popularity of Dogs in Japan

Despite the popularity of cats, dogs still have a place in Japanese culture. In Japan, service dogs are highly esteemed and regularly used to assist individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, certain breeds, like Shiba Inus and Akita Inus, are so cherished that some people refer to them affectionately as “living national treasures.”

Although cats tend to be more revered than dogs in Japan, canines are still integral components of the country’s culture—just not as much as felines. Ultimately, both animals remain an essential part of Japanese life and tradition.

What Is the Most Popular Pet in Japan?

Maneki-Neko or Japanese money cat at Gotokuji Temple
Image Credit: Sanyawadee, Shutterstock

In some cases, it depends on which part of Japan you look at. In the metropolitan areas of Japan, cats are more popular than dogs as pets. As we’ve pointed out, it’s often due to the practicality of owning a cat over a dog.

But the Japanese revere cats in a way that goes beyond practicality. In fact, cats have been integral to the culture and mythology of Japan for centuries. This reverence has led to a spike in cat ownership all over the country, from small rural villages to bustling cities.

So, it’s no surprise that when it comes to pet preference—cats are a big deal in Japan.


So why are cats more popular than dogs in Japan? Cats have been venerated for centuries, but their low-maintenance needs make them ideal companions in the modern world. It’s a unique blend of cultural and practical elements that draw people to cats as pets.

Although canines may not be as beloved by the Japanese as felines, they still maintain an indispensable role in Japanese culture—albeit at a slightly lower level of esteem than cats!

Ultimately, what makes cats so popular in Japan is their unique blend of cultural significance and practicality. It’s a combination that has made them the go-to pet for centuries, cementing their place as the beloved furry friends of Japan.

Featured Image Credit: Pabkov, Shutterstock

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