It really is a cat’s world and we’re just living in it.

In Japan, the word “kentei” (検定/aptitude test, exam) likely brings to mind the Kanji Kentei, or Kanji Aptitude Test, which is taken by native and non-native speakers of Japanese alike to demonstrate their knowledge of the use of Chinese characters in Japanese. Those preparing for one of the 12 levels of the Kanji Kentei are likely to purchase study guides and spend some time rigorously preparing for the exam. If they pass, especially one of the highest levels, it’s a helpful perk/talking point to be able to add to their CV.

The strong association between “kanji” and “kentei” is why we had a brief moment of confusion-turned-delight when we caught wind of the existence of a vastly different, less well-known aptitude test in Japan offered by Nippan Segmo, a company which manages several other qualifying examinations as well. Their most remarkable claim to fame, if we do say so ourselves, has been offering the Neko Kentei (検定), or Cat Aptitude Test, since 2017. It’s held only once per year and next year’s sitting on March 24 will be its 7th edition. As of this writing, the test is only offered in Japanese.

▼ An announcement regarding registration for next year’s Neko Kentei

Despite the Neko Kentei’s relative newness, 21,439 people have taken the test since its first iteration. In terms of who those people are, data indicates that 67 percent are female and 33 percent are male, with the highest age demographic at 35.1 percent being in their 30s, followed by 21.6 percent in their 40s, 18.1 percent in their 50s, 16.7 percent in their 20s, 5.3 percent between 10-19, and 3.2 percent in their 60s. Those who take it come from all different walks of life, from humble cat lovers and owners to veterinary clinic and cat cafe workers.

▼ GASP! Pawdon me, but the hoomans are trying to learn my secrets??

In its most basic sense, the Neko Kentei aims to deepen people’s understanding of our feline friends. Unlike the Kanji Kentei, there are only three levels offered, each geared towards different demographics of cat-loving people:

● Elementary (“Cat Partner”): For people who want to enjoy spending time with cats without inducing stress in them
● Intermediate (“Cat Specialist”): For people who are responsible for caring for cats over their lifetime and want to increase their mutual happiness
● Advanced (“Cat Master”): For people who want to understand cat behavior and feelings as well as be well-informed on medical care and how to prevent stress in cats

▼ Bottom to top: Cat Partner, Cat Specialist, Cat Master levels

©Neko Kentei

Think you have what it takes to become a Cat Master? Each level of the test is composed of 100 multiple-choice questions with a total time limit of one hour. Below are three sample questions from the Neko Kentei’s official website (levels unspecified, unfortunately). Please scroll down for the answers.

Q1: What’s a sign that a cat may be getting fed up with you petting them?
A. It moves its ears minutely.
B. It swishes its tail left and right.
C. It clenches and unclenches its front paws.
D. It rolls over again and again.

▼ So fur, so good–but cross a line, and this could get ugly.

Q2: Which of the following is a reason why cats are often said to warm more easily to women over men?
A. It’s because women tend to talk in a higher voice.
B. It’s because women have a more favorable scent.
C. It’s because women give treats more quickly.
D. It’s because women are better at playing with cat toys.

▼ Day #25: They have attempted to enthrall us with this wand again and it still works, Every. Single. Time. You’ve got to be kitten me.

Q3: Which of the following is NOT one function of a cat’s yawn?
A. It indicates a bad mood and helps the cat to calm down.
B. It stretches the jaw.
C. It provides relief from nervousness or stress.
D. It summons a princess from a jar.

▼ I know I have a catitude problem, but my hooman servants are just sooo tiresome.

Answers: 1. B, 2. A, 3. D

So what kind of benefits can test takers reap if they pass their chosen level of the Neko Kentei? All successful candidates will receive a customized business card with their name and Neko Kentei level as well as a cute badge in the shape of a cat.

▼ Left to right: Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced

©Neko Kentei

For those who receive perfect marks on the Intermediate or Advanced tests, they can also receive this special certificate to display proudly in their home, office, or by their pet cats’ favorite spots (though we have a feeling the cats would be fairly ambivalent about it).

▼ Left to right: Intermediate, Advanced

©Neko Kentei

If all of the above now has you excited to test your own cat knowledge, registration for next year’s Neko Kentei on March 24, 2024 already began on August 8, which is International Cat Day. The test will be held in person in five cities across Japan (Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka) as well as in an online format that can be taken on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Fittingly, the deadline to register for the test is on February 22, which is Japan’s annual domestic Cat Day. Until September 29, however, registration fees are slightly discounted at 4,750 yen (US$32.80), 5,700 yen, and 6,800 yen for the Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels respectively. What are you waiting for? Register meow!

Sources: Livedoor News, Neko Kentei via Otakomu
Images: Neko Kentei, Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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