There's a school called El Liston. It's different than other institutions, since it's a free school: where students in special circumstances (due to their characteristics or their family circumstances) make friends and follow their dreams. Students are free to come and go, just like stray cats.
Keito Aoyama, former child actress who's lived as a recluse since she blacked out during the performance of a musical, is offered by a mysterious man to attend this school. Although reluctant at first, she joins El Liston and starts making friends, knowing love and progressing in her path towards discovering her purpose in life.
Cat Street is a shoujo manga by Yoko Kamio (of Hana Yori Dango fame), serialized in Betsuma Margaret from 2004 to 2007 and compiled in eight volumes. It sets apart from other works in the genre by following Keito and her friends' personal growth rather than romance (although love is present in their lives as well)
It was adapted into a 6 episode drama by NHK in 2008, and licensed in several countries like France and Spain.
Tropes in this manga include:
- Abusive Parents: Keito's parents are arguably this: Keito's mother seemed very pushy back in the times Keito still was an actress, and they don't seem to try to search professional help for her after her blackout either.
- The Ace: Rei is one, despite having become kind of a Broken Ace since he joined El Liston: he's a handsome, skilled soccer player who also has a hand with girls.
- Affectionate Parody: Sunny, the main character from the musical Keito was going to star on her childhood, seems to be inspired by Annie which casts two girls in the titular role.
- All of the Other Reindeer: El Liston is a school designed for kids that are treated like this by their families and classmates.
- Always Someone Better: Nako feels this way about Keito: despite the first remaining succesful for years after Keito's breakdown, she still survives thanks to her advice, and not because of her own talent.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: According to the principal, El Liston means "walking path" in French. However, El Liston isn't French but Spanish, where it means "long and slim piece of wood" and not "walking path".
- Book Dumb: Keito isn't dumb at all, but due to not even finishing grade school she has trouble with some stuff, like reading difficult kanji.
- But Now I Must Go: Rei leaves for Brazil in volume 5. He still turns up a few other times during the rest of the manga, though.
- The Casanova: Rei hangs out with lots of girls.
- Coming-of-Age Story: Essentially, the manga is about Keito becoming mature and realizing what she wants to do with her life.
- Cool Big Sis: Midori. Also Momiji for her younger brothers.
- Dark and Troubled Past: One of the reasons students join El Liston.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Everyone in the main cast, no matter what hardships they faced, earsn happiness by the time they're young adults. Keito becomes a successful actress and gets engaged with Kouichi, who is now both chairman of an important computer brand and principal of the rebuilt El Liston. Momiji's designs get noticed by a famous brand and the extra implies she finds love for herself. Rei, although rejected by Keito, achieves success as an important soccer player, and seems to have gone back to his old suave ways with great success.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Momiji, although she switches between sweet and gothic lolita.
- Flower Motifs: "Keito" means "cockscomb" in Japanese, and this flower symbolizes undying love. Kouichi gives Keito a bucket of these before she performs in the musical.
- Friendly Rivalry: Keito and Nako at the end of the series.
- Gay Best Friend: Maasa, to Momiji's surprise.
- Guyliner: Maasa, as well.
- Heroic BSoD: Keito had one as a child after Nako betrays her during the musical performance.
- Hikikomori: Keito barely left her room for seven years.
- Important Haircut: Keito cuts her hair in chapter 23 as a way of moving on and focusing on her new career as an actress. She gives Natsumi another one in further volumes, implying it has the same meaning as when she did it herself.
- Meaningful Name: Taiyou means "sun", and he's a bright, cheerful boy. Keito quickly notices this when they reunite.
- Nice Guy: Both Taiyou and Hirano are kind with everyone.
- No Social Skills: Keito, due to barely any human contact since she was a kid.
- The Pollyanna: Subverted: Keito has to learn to become this, after losing her faith in both life and herself.
- Redemption Demotion: Maasa appears significantly less after his ploy with Nako is discovered and resolved. Justified since he got a full-time job and had less to time to spend hanging out at school.
- The Rival: Nako is this for Keito.
- Romantic False Lead: Keito develops a crush on Taiyou, his childhood classmate... whose arc gets finished pretty quickly once she finds out he has a girlfriend.
- Skilled, but Naïve: Keito: a talented actress that in many aspects has the mindset of a 9-year-old.
- Teen Genius: Kouichi is said to have an IQ of 200, and has been in El Liston since middle school.
- Time Skip: In volume 6, the story moves 3 years forward, with Keito now being 19 years old.
- Title Drop: Nako mentions at one point that a "cat street" is the name given to the cat-shaped decorations in the roofs of Bretanny's houses. Keito buys four decorations and sets them in the reformed El Liston's roof, this being the last page of the manga.
- True Companions: The main quartet is firmly this by the end of the series.