From a book on the dog and the cat in Japanese superstitions:
* * *Originally there were only wild cats in Japan, but in the time of the Emperor Ichijô (986-1011) some specimens of the small house-cat were imported from China. As they were very rare, their price was high, and only the Emperor and a few rich noblemen could afford to keep them. How much His Majesty liked these so-called Kara-neko or “Chinese cats” we read in the O-u-ki (the diary of Fujiwara no Sansuke - curator) and the Makura no soshi (also known as The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - curator). The former book states that “on the 19th day of the 9th month of the year 999 a cat brought forth young in the Palace. The Left and Right Minister had the task of bringing the kittens up, and prepared boxes (with delicacies) and rice and clothes for them (as for newborn babies). Uma no myöbu, a Court lady, was appointed wet-nurse of the cats. The people laughed at the matter and were rather astonished.” Another funny thing is told in the Makura no sòshi, namely that the Emperor Ichijö bestowed the fifth rank (that of the court ladies) upon a cat in the Palace, and gave her the name of “Myöbu no Omoto,” “Omoto the Lady-in-waiting.”
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Visser, Marinus Willem de, 1876-1930. The Dog And the Cat In Japanese Superstition. Yokohama, 1909. p. 8.