The beckoning cat (maneki neko) is found in Japan and China and carries a secret message. It is the ultimate symbol of prosperity and good luck.
Red cats protect from illness.
Black cats ward off evil.
Gold cats bring good fortune.
Pink cats bring love.
If the right paw is raised it means money and happiness at home and work.
If the left paw is raised it means new customers for business.
If both paws are raised, it is the jackpot of luck!
What is the origin of the beckoning cat, you ask?
All About Japan says: Around 1620, Gotokuji Temple in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, was in a terrible state due to the financial problems that plagued it. One day, on the way home from a bird hunting trip, a samurai lord from Hikone province named Naotaka Ii saw a cat in the temple waving with its paw, so he decided to take a break. Suddenly, it started raining, and soon powerful thunder joined in as well. Lord Ii was so pleased at avoiding a drenching that he donated a large sum of money to the temple afterwards. The remodeled Gotokuji Temple thereafter became a guardian temple for the Ii family. Later, a big Maneki Neko statue was built at the temple, and the small version started being sold as a souvenir.
Feng Shui has taken the beckoning cat to the next level, giving tips on which way to face the cat to bring money in. There are youtubes that tell you how.
Additional information on the colors from here.
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
White: Happiness, purity and positive things to come
Green: Good health
The link also has information about the varying things the beckoning cat wears and holds. Most all of it is linked to good fortune and wealth, but if the cat holds a marble or a gem it is to represent wisdom.