CATS are all the rage these days in Japan - bookstores are lined with dozens of photo books featuring cute little felines and they are popular online as well.
The furry things are also gaining ground on dogs as the pet of choice. Why are they latching on to so many hearts?
There are about 100 titles on cats in the photo books section of Yaesu Book Center's main store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Dogs are featured in about 30 books.
Shinji Takasugi, the store's public relations manager, said: "Ten years ago, there were more books on dogs. But about two or three years ago, cats caught up and quickly took the lead. Photo collections of free-spirited stray cats are popular these days."
Calendars for 2016 featuring cats are outselling the dog variety by about 50 per cent at the same store.
"Books and calendars about dogs are generally breed-specific but this isn't true for cats," the PR manager added. "They sell to a wide audience."
A search for cats on YouTube returned 3.88 million hits - about 1.6 times the number for dogs. Unlike dogs, which tend to react to the camera, cats seem unfazed and go about their affairs as usual.
Cat owners post videos showing the animal in all kinds of amusing situations - from disappearing into boxes to jumping in surprise at unexpected noises.
Said Yoko Manabe, editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Neko No Kimochi (Cats' Feelings), published by Benesse Corp: "Sometimes, they snub you, sometimes they're all over you. Cats are unpredictable and interesting.
"They act on a whim and do as they please."
Cats are just as popular in the world of entertainment.
The smartphone game Neko Atsume (Collect The Cats) was launched in October 2014 and has racked up 10 million downloads. There are also many commercials and films starring cats.
"Cat cafes have sprung up all over the place and even people who have never kept a pet cat are falling under their spell," added the editor-in-chief.
Sales of cat-related publications and goods, dubbed Nekonomics, are said to be having a positive effect on Japan's economy. One reason behind the furry trend is that cats are a good fit for modern Japanese lifestyles.
According to a pet ownership survey by the Japan Pet Food Association in Tokyo, the 2014 estimate for the number of pet cats stood at 9,959,000, up by about 220,000 from 2013. There were 10,346,000 pet dogs in 2014 but their numbers are declining.
Yoshio Koshimura, honorary chairman of the Japan Pet Food Association, said: "There's a growing number of working couples and households made up of elderly people. They probably tend to prefer cats, which don't require a lot of effort to look after."
Cats do not need to go for walks. They also do not get stressed easily, even if their owners are not at home all day, and they do not make enough noise to disturb the neighbours.
"In Western countries where there are many working couples, like the United States, France and Germany, there are more pet cats than dogs," said Mitsuaki Ota, a professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture who researches the relationships between humans and animals.
"In Japan, we're beginning to see dog breeders go bankrupt due to the fall in dog ownership. As a result, dogs are becoming more expensive to buy.
"This risks creating a vicious cycle in which fewer and fewer people own dogs."
In Japan, the popularity of different types of pets changes at a dizzying pace so Mr Koshimura believes prospective pet owners should think carefully.
"Rather than being swept up by a craze and buying a pet without much thought, first, think hard about what kind of pet is suited to your lifestyle," he said.
Lower costs are another reason cats are popular.
According to a survey by Tokyo-based Anicom Insurance, annual expenses for dogs are about 360,000 yen (S$4,350) per year while those for cats are about 180,000 yen.
Dogs have higher food costs since they exercise more and there are also medical expenses like vaccinations to consider.