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This year may be the Year of the Monkey, but we’re also convinced that it’s the era of cats!

On February 22, RocketNews24 joined Japan in celebrating the wonder and beauty of cats. Many of our writers are avid feline fans and we love sharing the newest pictures of adorable kitties. Even on days not devoted to cats, though, cats are hot stuff in Japan recently. In fact, it’s been estimated that in 2015 cat owners and cat lovers spent about 2.3 trillion yen (US$21 billion) on car-related purchases. This enormous inflation of spending for our furry friends has even been given the apt name nekonomics or “cat-nomics”.

▼ Money is no object!

You’ll find that products for cats themselves aren’t the only commodity seeing an increase in cash flow. Clothes, books and even rice crackers are feeling the kitty love. Last year, women’s magazine Josei Shijin (lit. “Herself”) polled their readers and found that they wanted a special edition of the magazine featuring only cats. Cleverly, they called this special publication Neko Jishin (lit “Catself”). Usually between 7,000 to 8,000 copies are printed, but because the editorial department knew their readers wanted this, they published an initial 52,000 copies and all of them flew off the shelves. After one-and-a-half months of reprinting, they recorded an unprecedented 92,000 copies sold.

▼ The cover of the magazine. Koyuki approves.

Don’t let that cat-fact fool you into thinking that only women are exuberantly in love with cats, however. In the past few years a new term has entered the Japanese lexicon that describes young men whose only roommate is a cat. They are called neko danshi (“Cat Young Men”) and their population is quickly growing. One Japanese university student said that owning a cat was like having a kid or a significant other. It fills the role of “human contact”; when you feel sad, you can just snuggle up and cuddle your woes away. He also noted that women responded very favorably to an environment that included a cat.

▼ Because cats are adorable, obviously.

Another self-professed neko danshi joked that having a cat was like having a maneki neko, a cat figurine that beckons good fortune, because since he’s had a cat, he’s found more work and the women he meets are more eagerly visiting his place..

▼ Your kitty could be the ultimate wingman (he’s likely to steal the show, though).

Finally, as proof that this isn’t just an imaginary popularity spike, you only have to look at the number of cats and dogs in Japan, which is closer than it’s ever been. In the near future, the number of cats will most likely surpass the number of dogs. It makes a lot of sense actually, considering the insanely high population of elderly people in the country and the tiny apartments that many people live in. Whether you’re a “casualty” of nekonomics or a neko danshi, one thing is clear, cats rule and dogs drool!

Source: Sankei West
Top image: Instagram/151akari (edited by RocketNews24)