The maneki-neko (Japanese: 招き猫, literally "beckoning cat") is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. The figurine depicts a cat (traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed in shops, restaurants and other businesses.
What does it mean when a beckoning cat has its right paw or its left paw raised? What do the different cat colors mean? What about the coin the Lucky Cat holds, or the bib? The meanings can vary from region to region within Japan, and some meanings have changed over time, but here is a general summary:
Tri-color Cat: (modeled after the Japanese bob-tail breed, this is a popular & traditional color for lucky cats, beckoning general good luck, wealth, prosperity)
White Cat: purity, happiness
Black Cat: safety, wards off evil and stalkers
Golden Cat: wealth and prosperity
Red Cat: protection from evil & illness (especially illness in children)
Pink Cat (a more modern color): love, relationships and romance
Green Cat (also a modern color): educations/studies
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
While the Beckoning Cat originates in Japan, it has also become a popular good luck figure in Chinese businesses.