I've seen these waving cats both in the US and throughout Asia, and figured they're for good fortune but never really looked into it. If you look up "Maneki-neko", the proper name for these Japanese figurines, you can learn everything you could ever possibly want to know about them.
Before I traveled to Cambodia, I didn't quite get why so many people loved Cambodia for photography. Of course there are amazing sites like Angkor Wat which scream "Photograph Me!" but I didn't quite see what it was about the street life. Having finally been, I can say there's just always plenty of little things that are just enough different from the US that make for interesting scenes. The Central Market had its fair share of interesting stuff to photograph, but just seeing how people go about their daily lives, across all age groups, was plenty interesting.
Cambodians appeared to in general be fairly happy. I think we all want to have more happiness and more/better possessions. For a largely Buddhist country, I would expect them not to be overly materialistic, and at the end of the day, sometimes less is more.
Japanese welcoming cats inside a vendor's stall in the Central Market, Phnom Penh.