Top Names for Cats in Japan

Good morning everyone,

So....what happened to all the snow we were supposed to get? It looks like they're getting tons of it up north, but here...not much more than a snowflake or two. This week is looking pretty nice after today and tomorrow which will be sunny but cool with daytime highs of 7C and 9C. The rest of the week will see highs over 10C-which is great as long as it doesn't warm up too much for next Sunday when I have to run a full marathon in Kumamoto.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a dog person. However, it turns that there are a lot of cat lovers out there based on the incredible amount of time they spend watching cats on YouTube.

After seeing how cute they are, you might want to buy one. Well, there are a lot of responsibilities with welcoming a new pet into your home. Not only will you need to give it the love and attention it requires for a happy, healthy life, your animal companion will also be dependent on you to provide it with a name.

To help with that last task, Japanese Internet portal Iris Pet has released its newest list of the most popular cat names in Japan, compiled from responses from 1,671 cat owners. Just like with human names, kitty moniker trends change over time, so let’s take a look at how things have changed since last year for both male and female cats, as well as the overall rankings.

● Top names for female cats

10 (tie). Chacha
10 (tie). Fuku (meaning “Lucky”)
10 (tie). Mii
10 (tie). Mugi (“Barley)
10 (tie). Mei
9. Kuro (“Black”)
8. Sakura (“Cherry Blossom”)
6 (tie). Chibi (“Tiny”)
6 (tie). Momo (“Peach”)
5. Mike (“Tortoiseshell”)
4. Hime (“Princess”)
3. Koko
2. Hana (“Flower”)
1. Nana

For female cats, Hana slipped from the top spot it held in 2016, being replaced by Nana, a popular name for human females in Japan as well with possible meanings including “seven,” “quince,” and “pear.” Nana saw a large jump in popularity, as it wasn’t even in the top 10 female cat names in Iris Pet’s 2016 survey, nor were Mike (pronounced like the pronoun “me” and letter “K”), Chibi, Chacha, Fuku, or Mugi.

● Top names for male cats

8 (tie). Koko
8 (tie). Sora (“Sky”)
8 (tie). Tama (“Ball”)
8 (tie). Hachi
8 (tie). Fuku (“Lucky”)
8 (tie). Momo (“Peach”)
7. Maru (“Circle”)
5 (tie). Kotetsu (“Small Iron”)
5 (tie). Maron (from marron, the French word for “chestnut”)
4. Kotaro
1 (tie). Kuro (“Black”)
1 (tie). Tora (“Tiger”)
1 (tie). Reo (the Japanese corrupted pronunciation of Leo, as in “lion”)

More masculine names took the top slots in the male list, with Kuro and Reo/Leo both jumping up from their tied number-five position last year, and Tora bouncing up from number seven to make up the last part of this year’s three-way tie. Sora, last year’s most popular male name, tumbled down several spots but still managed to hold on to a spot on the list, which also included the macho samurai-like Kotaro and Kotetsu.

● Top ten overall cat names


10 (tie). Tama (“Ball”)
10 (tie). Tora (“Tiger”)
10 (tie). Mii
10 (tie). Rin
10 (tie). Reo (“Leo”)
9. Fuku (“Lucky”)
8. Hime (“Princess”)
7. Mike (“Tortoiseshell”)
4 (tie). Chibi (“Tiny”)
4 (tie). Hana (“Flower”)
4 (tie). Momo (“Peach”)
2 (tie). Kuro (“Black”)
2 (tie). Nana
1. Koko

Last year’s overall most popular name, Momo, still ended up as one of the survey respondents’ favorites in 2017. However, in the end, it was Koko that finished atop the list, reportedly thanks to its associations with the similarly pronounced  “cocoa,” “coconut,” and fashion designer Coco Chanel.

In 12 months’ time, we’ll likely see these ranking get shaken up again, but for right now, they’re the top dogs, or cats, actually, of Japan’s feline pet community. Did your cat's name make this list? If I bought a male cat, I'd definitely call him 'Tiger'...well, unless he was black. Then it wouldn't make much sense, would it? Ha ha!

Have a great day!

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