Everyone knows and loves calico cats and they are most certainly thought to bring good luck to those around them, and have generated an entire cultural construct around them.
Most everyone knows the Lucky Cat statue, sometimes called the Beckoning Cat statue, the Money Cat statue, or the Maneki Neko, found in so many American and Japanese businesses.
Surprisingly, the different names don’t actually give different meaning to the cat statues, though most people don’t know the subtle, yet intricate meanings of the cute figurine waving at you. The Lucky Cat statue is a calico cat figure with a waving paw thought to bring good luck, fortune, and prosperity.
So do calico cats bring good luck? That answer may simply depend on who you ask, but some of history certainly seems to think so.
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Where did calico cats come from?
While no one knows the exact place calico cats originate from, it’s thought to be somewhere around Egypt and they were then brought down to countries like Italy, France, and Spain from traveling on trade routes along the Mediterranean sea. Because calico cats can be any breed of cat, it has been extremely difficult to pinpoint their exact origins.
What makes a cat a calico cat?
Calico cats have a striking coat of fur made up of three colors, and are rare. Calico cats can be any breed of cat, and everything is simply dependent on how their genetics line up when it comes to coat color; the more colors in fur coat, the rarer they are, with three being the apparent maximum, and the hardest to come across.
The traditional calico cat coat colors are white, black, and orange, although there are a few more varieties included. There’s a muted calico pattern consisting of cream, light orange, and brown, but they’re still beautiful! The other variety of calico coloring is actually called a calibby, and is when tabby stripes mix with the calico coloring, whether regular or muted, and create a wonderful tri-color pattern!
Despite our best efforts, breeding calico cats is next to impossible because the gene structure has to line up a certain way for that signature tri-color coat to appear. Because of the specific genes, almost all calico cats are female, and only as few as 5-10% of calico cats are males. These male calico cats are almost guaranteed to be naturally sterile, making it more difficult to try and breed cats to have that calico color palette.
The Irish and calico cats
The Irish have their own lucky beliefs when it comes to calico cats and their folktales tell stories of rubbing a calico cat’s tail against a wart to remove it. However, this only works in May, so if you’re looking to try this, make sure to check your calendar!
Calico cats in Japan and the Japanese belief that they are lucky.
Japan’s love for calico cats is no secret, and is where the Maneki Neko, more commonly known as the Money Cat or Lucky Cat, originates from. Because calico cats are so rare, Japanese sailors used to bring calico cats on their voyages out to sea, believing fully they would bring them luck, calm angry spirits, and even keep the seas storm-free. In the 1870’s, Japan made a declaration that calico cats were the official symbol of bearers of good fortune.
While the times of long sea voyages are over, the Japanese still believe in the luck of calico cats, and there are even a few famous ones from that country. The most notable one is Tama, a well-behaved calico cat who saved an entire train station from bankruptcy when she was appointed as Station Master.
Tama even had her own uniform with a decorated cap and a Station Master’s hat she wore every day. Because of Tama, the amount of commuters rose almost 20% and her legacy still lives on even though she has since passed away, as the station has appointed a second calico cat, named Nitama, which means Tama Two, to be her successor, and Nitama has continued her job as faithfully as the original Tama.
What are the differences in all of the calico lucky waving cat statues?
While all the calico cat statues certainly seem identical to the untrained eye, there are subtle difference within the statues that change the meanings of what you’re wishing for with it’s luck. While there are many different colors for the lucky cat statues with their own meaning, the calico coloring is the most traditional and brings fortune, prosperity, and good luck in general.
One of the easiest differences you’ll notice is which paw is raised, whether right or left, or even if both paws are raised. Each of these brings a different type of luck, so if you’re in the market for a certain luck, make sure you get the right one.
Having the left paw raised brings luck in inviting people and customers into your house or business. If the right paw is raised, it is beckoning in good fortune and monetary wealth. If both paws are raised, it is meant to be lucky especially in protecting your home or business.
The other set of differences you may notice about the cat is if it’s holding something. There are usually two things the calico lucky cat will hold, if it holds anything at all. If the calico lucky cat is holding a bell while wearing a bib, it is inviting in luck in material abundance and wealth while also offering protection. If the calico lucky cat is holding a coin, it is beckoning in wealth and material abundance.
Calico cats are rare beauties believed to be lucky for how rare they are and are believed to invite good luck to those around them, or even just where calico cat statues are placed. So do calico cats bring good luck? According to some cultures, yes. Even if you don’t believe they bring good luck, you can still appreciate their rare beauty.