Any one shopping in Japan will come across a store which has a maneki neko statue on display. The statue, which translates into English as " welcoming cat ", takes the shape of a chubby white cat sitting on its hind legs and raising one paw. Several folk tales have been told regarding the origins of the maneki neko, and they all treat the feline as a symbol of good fortune; for example, the story of the cat that led a feudal lord to shelter during a lightning storm, who was commemorated for all time with this statue. Today, it's used as an iconic cultural good luck charm.
These origin stories have as much factual accuracy as any myths, but the breed that inspired the maneki neko is real. It is called the Japanese bobtail, and been prevalent in Japanese culture for centuries. The Japanese bobtail is a favorite of breeders, and even without knowing the breed's mythology, a single glance at one of the cats is evidence as to why. They are very attractive cats, with a long, lean white body of medium size and variable hair length, with brown patches on the ears and short, bobbed-tail ( hence the name ). Their eyes are either brown or blue, but some will have one eye of each color. As companions, they are regarded highly, having generally energetic and affectionate ( if overly willful ) dispositions.
Japanese bobtails are natural to their country, but finding a purebred cat may be expensive, given their prized reputation. Fortunately, they are also a popular breed amongst fanciers, and specialized bobtail breeders can be found in breeders' indexes. They will surely provide an excellent companion and possible show cat. Increased fortune, however, is not guaranteed.
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About the author:
A freelance writer/cartoonist living in LA, with my fiance' and our wonderful cat. You can see my work at www.rubysworldcomic.com and rubynation.smackjeeves.com