Although there are several folktales about the origin of maneki neko, the most popular involves a stray cat and an impoverished shop owner. The story goes that despite being down on his luck and barely able to feed himself, the impoverished shop owner takes in a stray, hungry cat. Grateful for the shop owner's charity, the cat then takes post outside, beckoning visitors into the shop. The cute cat, sitting on hind legs with one paw beckoning, eventually turns around the shop owner's misfortunes.
The tale of maneki neko and the widespread belief across Japan of its power as a lucky charm, led ceramist and paper mache artisans over the years to create different colored figurines to bring good luck and fortune for different occasions.
Gold maneki neko are talismans for attracting good fortune.
Green maneki neko are talismans for attaining successful academic achievement and good health.
Red maneki neko are talismans for good business, having a successful career, and successful relationships.
Lucky cats measure 2 x 2 1/2 in.