National / Science & Health

Toray gets OK to make, sell kidney drug amid feline 'nekonomics' boom


Toray Industries Inc. said it will sell medicine to treat chronic kidney disease in cats as the popularity of feline pets grows in Japan.

The Tokyo-based chemical maker said in a statement Monday it has received approval to make and sell the drug, Rapros, which will go on sale from April.

Taken orally, the medicine is the first in the world to help limit the deterioration in kidney function in cats, rather than just ameliorating the symptoms of the disease, according to the company.

While dog ownership has fallen in recent years here, the number of pet cats has risen by 1 percent since 2012 to just under 10 million. Dog ownership slid 14 percent over that period, data from the Japan Pet Food Association show.

Chronic kidney disease is found in 30 to 40 percent of felines that are 10 years old or older, according to Toray.

“We’re in an unprecedented cat boom that’s even given rise to the word nekonomics,” Toray said, using a portmanteau that combines the Japanese word for cat with economics.

The popularity of cats was estimated to have an economic impact topping ¥2.3 trillion in 2015, according to research by Katsuhiro Miyamoto at Kansai University.

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