No wonder Japan is Hello Kitty's country! Cats are poised to replace dogs as the nation's favorite pet. The man's best friend has become somewhat of a burden to the nation's aging society.
There are 10.35 million household dogs in Japan, only a little more than the 9.96 million felines, according to a Japan Pet Food Association survey of 50,000 people in 2014.
The association - conducting nationwide surveys since 1994 - noted that the population of canines has decreased by 12.8 percent over the past five years, while the number of cats has clawed up 3.6 percent.
If the trend persists, cats will outnumber dogs in 2015, reports Asahi.
The reason behind the numbers is that dogs are more challenging to take care compared to cats. Cats don't see their owners as a source of safety and security in the same way dogs do, making them much more independent and less reliant, reports Daily Mail.
"It is easy even for single people to keep cats because it is not necessary to take them for a walk," said Yoshio Koshimura, 67, honorary chairman of the association. "In this year's survey, the number of cats will be bigger than that of dogs."
According to the 2014 survey, 60 percent of all cat and dogs owners in China are more than 50 years old. These older citizens find it troublesome to walk or train dogs.
"As pet owners age, they feel a bigger burden in taking care of their dogs, which has led to a continual decrease in the number of dogs," said Koji Hashimoto, a senior researcher of market research company Fuji Keizai Co.
Coincidentally, pets that were bought during the late-1990s small-dog craze in Japan are reaching the end of their life spans.
The rising popularity of cats is also evident in media.
According to Shonan Animal Production Inc., a company based in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, that provides animals for television dramas and commercials, 80 percent of requests used to be for dogs, but cats now occupy 60 percent of the requests.
According to another survey from What Japan Thinks, the most common pets in Japan are dogs, cats, fish and turtles.
While cats are easier to pet, dogs are more loyal and affectionate to their owners, Yahoo! News reports.