Nameneko cats were the brainchild of Japanese artist and photographer Satoru Tsuda. The story goes that animal lover Tsuda found four stray kittens at a local laundromat, took them home and looked after them. One day he found one of the kittens (Matakichi) playing with some dolls clothes and it gave him the idea to dress them up for photoshoots.
A lot of the earlier photos were of the cats dressed up young delinquent style. It being the early eighties, bosozoku bike gang style was also at its peak so it naturally followed that the kittens would be biker gang kittens.
Nameneko cats became a huge craze in Japan (and are still cult popular today), they went over to America too and appeared on trading card stickers and in childrens books though were never quite the hype they were in Japan.
Nameneko translates as 'unlickable cat'. The first image released was of Matekichi dressed as a bike gang member with the slogan 'Japan fast feline federation - you won't lick us'. The Nameneko cats are sometimes known as Namennayo, when marketed in the States the name Perlorian was used. Perlorian apparently means transforming something normal into something seemingly abnormal.
Though it looks like the cats are made to stand up they are in fact sitting on their haunches and the costumes are designed to be comfortable for the cats sitting down. The camera angles also help to give the illusion that the cats are standing. Photo shoots for the Nameneko cats were apparently very carefully orchestrated and then swiftly executed as, though trained, the cats had an attention span of just ten minutes or so before they demanded to move. Of course it is always maintained that no discomfort was caused to the cats. None of the cats I have ever had have been partial to dressing up but then again I never encouraged the behaviour or trained them!
So much more artful and clever than the current trend for lolcats / cat memes the Nameneko images are intricately composed and quirkily funny. Basically who doesn't like a kitten dressed up as a person. In tribute to the genius of the Perlorian kittens I bring you possibly the interwebs largest number of Namenko cats with bikes on one page.....
|Genius. The one on the right looks like a 'Kitler'.|
|These two are a bit doleful.|
|Yeh, really, you can't lick us.|
|This one shows the level of effort that went in to the studio|
sets and composition of each image.
|Perhaps my favourite. These two bad-ass kittens sense a rumble|
|A candidate for one of the world's most unselfconsciously odd|
childrens sticker trading cards ever.
|You can't lick us, I can lick myself though mofos.|
|To counter all those delinquent kittens|
this one is a cop.