February is a big month in the kitty world: It’s Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and National Pet Dental Month, and it also contains World Spay Day.
It also has the pet holiday known as Nyan Nyan Nyan Day.
And just what is that? It’s Cat Day. You see ni, the Japanese word for the number “two,” sounds close to nyan, the Japanese word for “meow.” February is the second month of the year. Some time ago, thousands of people were polled to select a date for Cat Day. The winning date was February 22, which is written 22/2 in Japan and could therefore be called nyan nyan nyan. In other words, the day sounds like "meow meow meow" in Japanese.
Got all that? Good.
Japan’s first annual Cat Day launched in 1987, when more than 400 cat lovers gathered to offer prayers for their pets’ longevity. They also honored Miki, a cat who had traveled 222 miles over 19 months to be reunited with her family. Most of the several dozen cats in the audience reportedly remained quietly in their owners’ laps during the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony.
Today, people typically celebrate Cat Day in Japan by posting photos and videos of their cats. Here’s a video of a visit to the Nekebukuro Cat Cafe in Tokyo.
Just how popular are cats in Japan? Check out the Japan National Tourism Organization guide, "Visit Japan with Hello Kitty." It has an app that allows you to “discover the Japan you didn’t know” with Hello Kitty. Cool!
And if you do visit Japan, be sure to visit a cat cafe, where you can relax with a refreshing beverage and a cuddly cat. Some cat cafes have themes — fat cats, black cats, former stray cats and even rare breed cats. They also try to raise awareness of cat welfare, such as the issue of stray cats.
Cat cafes must be licensed and comply with the Japanese law for the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals, which has strict rules for cleanliness and animal welfare, particularly to ensure that the cats aren’t stressed by excessive and unwanted attention; for example, from young children or when napping.
If you’re lucky enough to share your home and heart with a cat, you can celebrate Cat Day every day of the year ÔÇô- without having to visit a cat cafe in Japan!
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About the author: Nancy Peterson is a registered veterinary technician and award-winning writer. She joined The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal protection organization, in 1998 and is currently the Cat Programs Manager. She lives in Maryland with her cats Luna, adopted from a feline rescue; Toby, adopted from an animal shelter; and Jenny, a feral kitten she fostered. Check out the HSUS cat information at humanesociety.org/cats and humanesociety.org/outdoorcats