A cat name should be cute and easy to use, and somehow relevant to your pet. But at the same time – special enough to underline its uniqueness! If you’re not sure where to look for inspiration, we have a tip for you – take direction: East! Japanese language and culture are filled with words perfect for the cat names.

We dug deep into the Japanese culture to provide you with the best cat name ideas for furry girls and boys! Let’s take a closer look at the most interesting ones.

Maneki-Neko – a famous lucky Japanese cat

We couldn’t start our list with a different position than the Maneki-Neko. This iconic lucky cat is very common in Japan, but also in China and Thailand. Maneki Neko means ,,beckoning cat”, but sometimes the figure is referred to as Lucky cat or money cat.

The Maneki-Neko figures can have different sizes, shapes, and aesthetics, but there is one thing they all have in common. It’s a lifted paw with which they wave in inviting gesture. This gesture is a symbolic invitation. 

That explains why the Maneki-Neko can be found mainly in Japanese shows and restaurants. Depending on which of the paws is lifted, the cat may attract either money or clients. Well – for the businesses, both options work just fine! However, the famous kitten can also invite good people and fortune to the house.

In a Chinese Buddhist pantheon, Maneki-Neko is considered an incarnation of the goddess of mercy – Guanyin. In Japanese tradition, this goddess is called Kannon. Doesn’t it sound like a perfect name for your furry princes? Maneki-Neko is a longer name, but in the case of cats, multi-syllable names are not such an issue as with dogs. You can always shorten it to Neko when you need to. Neko means “a cat”.

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We already know that Japanese culture associates feline with the symbol of luck. But will you be lucky enough to find some Japanese name for your furry friend? We’ll make every effort to make it possible for you!

Japanese cuisine-inspired names for cats

Japan is famous worldwide for its delicious and healthy food. Many of its flag dishes are a real treat for your tastebuds. But they can also be… music for your ears! 

Have you ever found yourself looking through the menu at the Japanese restaurants and reading the foreign-sounding names of the dishes out loud with fascination? We’ve been there, too! Their names sound so good. Plus, they’re usually two-syllable, and thus, they fit perfectly for a name. Here are some tasty ideas you may like:

  • Tofu
  • Natto
  • Ramen
  • Udon
  • Mochi
  • Matcha
  • Sushi
  • Soba
  • Miso
  • Sake
  • Shoyu

If you don’t mind names longer than two syllables, you may also like:

  • Onigiri
  • Sashimi
  • Unagi
  • Tempura
  • Sukiyaki
  • Nigiri
  • Hosomaki
  • Uramaki
  • Enoki
  • Shitake
  • Okoshi

Japanese pop culture cat names

Have you become hungry already? Let’s head into the next category before you start looking for Japanese restaurants in your area! Japanese popular culture is full of inspiring characters from whom your kitty could inherit the name. 

Let’s start with some famous Japanese figures:

  • Yoko 
  • Kurosawa
  • Murakami
  • Kitaro

When searching for Japanese cat names in pop culture, you cannot forget about the anime, loved by audiences of all ages worldwide. Among the anime studios, the iconic Studio Ghibli stands out with its well-drawn characters and one-its-kind imagery. 

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Here are some names of the most memorable Studio Ghibli’s characters:

  • Mononoke – a brave princess raised by wolves and fighting for a bright future of her beloved forest in Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • Totoro – a cute, giant ghost spirit that befriends a lonely boy in My neighbor Totoro (1988)
  • Kaonashi – a kind, calm spirit following the main protagonist in Spirited Away (2001)
  • Chihiro – the main protagonist trying to save her parents in Spirited Away (2001)
  • Yubaba – the main antagonist in Spirited Away (2001)
  • Ponyo – a cute fish from one of the later Studio Ghibli’s cartoons, Ponyo (2008)

You don’t have to stick to Miyazaki’s work. There are plenty of fascinating characters from other anime studios that your cat could borrow its name from. For the male cat, we have:

  • Naruto
  • Son Goku
  • Izuki
  • Lelouch
  • Levi
  • Sakata

And for the furry ladies? There are quite some inspiring anime female protagonists with beautiful names. Are you looking for some cute female Japanese cat names? You could name your kitten after one of the Sailor Moon girls:

  • Ami
  • Usagi 
  • Minako
  • Makoto
  • Chibiusa

Traditional Japanese cat names

Beautiful Japanese traditions could also serve as an inspiration for a cat name. Let’s just take:

  • Ikebana (the art of making flower compositions)
  • Origami (the art of making three-dimensional compositions out of paper)
  • Kintsugi (the art of restoring the broken items without masking the cracks)

Among popular Japanese cat names, there are:

  • Hana (flower)
  • Haru (spring)
  • Mana (love)
  • Minori (truth)
  • Suzume (sparrow)
  • Yoshi (lucky)
  • Yuki (happy)
  • Hiroshi (generous)
  • Katsu (victory)
  • Nao (honest)
  • Toshi (wise)
  • Yasu (peace)
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Is a Japanese name for your kitty is a good idea?

Japanese culture is often romanticized in the West, and it’s not without reason. We’re fascinated with a universe so different than ours, with entirely different symbolics and heritage. Its emphasis on collectiveness and respect for the tradition continues to attract Westerners. 

The Japanese language is fascinating, too, and it can be a great source of inspiration. However, don’t just rely on its sound. Just because something sounds cute (in Japanese cute is kawaii, by the way), it doesn’t mean it may serve as a cat name. Its meaning might actually be quite the opposite of cute. Thus, always check the meaning of the word in Japanese before making it your cat’s name. It’s the same rule as with the tattoos — research first! 

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