Fortune Cat is known as Maneki Neko in Japanese, which means “beckoning cat.” The cat has its paw raised as if it’s waving in good fortune for its owners. Other common monikers include Lucky Cat, Money Cat, and Welcoming Cat.
These Maneki-neko, or beckoning cat figurines, are crafted by Kakinuma Ningyo, a doll maker with a long history of crafting Edo Kimekomi dolls. These Maneki-neko kimekomi figures are accented with traditional Japanese crepe, as well as more modern elements such as enamel, Swarovski crystals, and power stones. Sweet, but striking, this line of beckoning cats have a decisive charm.
There’s actually a meaning behind which paw the cat is holding up.
Right Paw raised: invites money and good fortune (usually to businesses)
Left Paw raised: invites customers or people
(Some suggest the right & left paws both invite business-related prosperity, but that the left paw is for businesses of the night, such as bars, geisha houses & restaurants. Use of lucky cats in homes is more recent)
Both Paws raised: invites protection of home or business
Coin: wealth and material abundance
Bib and Bell: may relate to protection, as well as wealth and material abundance (showing respect and veneration for the cat, caring for the cat and keeping it warm, displaying wealth, gold bell as symbol of treasure -either material or non-material).
While you’ll most commonly see a white Maneki Neko with orange and black spots, there are quite a few color variations and they each have a special meaning.
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
White: Happiness, purity, and positive things to come
Gold: Wealth and prosperity
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Red: Success in love and relationships
Green: Good health
Lucky Cats can also be found holding gourds, prayer tablets, daikon radishes, and ingots. These items also represent wealth and good luck.
Regardless of the name, legend, raised paw, color, or item in its paw, you basically can’t go wrong with a Fortune Cat perched by your side.
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