Nyan! Cat Manga is Your Next Easy Read

Emily Meehan, Young Adult Librarian, Palms - Rancho Park Branch Library,
Collage of books and a film about cat manga in Japan

There are a lot of manga series out there to choose from. Between all of the shonen adventures and shojo romance, you may have noticed on the library shelves a certain cuddly creature that is featured in many manga series: cats! That’s right, there are many, many manga series all about cats. Whether they be a feline companion of your average working girl in Tokyo, a supreme ramen master, or mystical beings that take on the form of cute attention-craving kitties, cat manga needs to be your next read.

Why are there so many manga series and titles about cats? Cats have been an intricate and important part of Japan’s culture for centuries. There is evidence that cats have been instrumental in Japanese life as far back as the 1400s, as they chased away and ate rodents that damaged rice crops and silkworm farms. Because of this, cats were (and still are) praised and deified as protectors and bringers of good fortune in the Buddhist religion, with many temples and shrines to cats existing all over Japan. Cats were also depicted in Japanese folklore as spirits that could shapeshift into humans to cause mischief or even avenge their dead owner, so not all cats were necessarily benevolent! Regardless of whether they were good or bad, Japan has had a fascination with felines that have existed for a long time. Today in modern Japan, cats still reign supreme with many working people in urban areas preferring to own cats rather than dogs because of smaller living spaces.

Manga reflects all portrayals of Japanese cats, from protector to demon, although the most popular focus is on modern-day cats living with their owners. These series fall under the "slice of life" manga in that they mostly consist of vignettes about the everyday life of cats and don’t have much of a story arc. It can be incredibly wholesome to read about the bond between cat and human, and also chuckle at the relatable situations cat-owners undoubtedly find themselves in. Sometimes, when the world gets you down, all you need is to pick up a cat manga and the world seems a little better.

Here are just a few series to check out.

Recommended Reading

Book cover for A Man & His Cat: Vol 1
A Man & His Cat: Vol 1
Sakurai, Umi

This is one of the most popular manga series today in Japan. It tells the story of an elderly gentleman who has lost his wife and decides to adopt a cat. As the man navigates his loss, his new pet is there by his side, giving him love and support every step of the way.

Book cover for Plum Crazy!: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat, Vol 1
Plum Crazy!: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat, Vol 1
Natsumi, Hoshino

Plum is a cat who lives with a teenage boy and his mom when a stray kitten wanders in to disrupt her perfect life! This slice-of-life manga shows the antics between Plum and baby Snowball as Plum learns to tolerate her new brother. 

Book cover for Wonder Cat Kyuu-Chan: Vol. 1
Wonder Cat Kyuu-Chan: Vol. 1
Nitori, Sasami

A young professional adopts Kyuu-chan, an outrageous kitten who loves bowties and adventure! This slice-of-life manga is about cat and owner adjusting to life together and the fun they have along the way. 

Book cover for She and Her Cat
She and Her Cat
Shinkai, Makoto

This is a single volume manga that is much more mellow than the other series on this list. It follows a young woman who lives alone with her cat as she navigates adult life. As the woman struggles with loneliness, her cat is there to make sure she is not alone.

Book cover for Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Itō, Junji

Horror manga artist Junji Ito puts a strange spin on the slice-of-life cat genre as he recounts the true story of he and his wife adopting their two cats Yon and Mu. While the stories are very typical for cat owners, Ito manages to draw them in his distinct horror style, which gives the cats and their owners a manic, demonic energy.

Book cover for I'm the Catlords' Manservant: Vol. 1
I'm the Catlords' Manservant: Vol. 1
Kitaguni, Rat

After his father passes away and leaves him with all his unpaid debts, high schooler Yukiharu finds himself in the presence of a group of shapeshifting cats who demand he serve them! With nowhere else to go, Yukiharu makes the best of his situation and learns that the cats had a strong bond with his father. 

Book cover for The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today: Vol. 1
The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today: Vol. 1
Yamada, Hitsuji

Saku is a busy working woman who spends a little too much time at her job and not enough relaxing at home. Luckily, she has a giant cat who does literally all of the cooking and cleaning around the house and makes sure Saku is getting the TLC she needs! 

Book cover for Land of the Rising Cat: Japan's Feline Fascination
Land of the Rising Cat: Japan's Feline Fascination
Okazaki, Manami

Book cover for Cat Nation
Cat Nation