All about Cats in Chinese: Vocabulary, Breeds, Names, and More

cat in Chinese

How do you say cat in Chinese? What’s the Chinese word for kitten? What about meowing, purring? Breed names & fun idioms? If you’ve ever felt the desire to talk about your furry feline friend in Mandarin Chinese, then you wouldn’t want to miss this post.

In this complete Chinese cat guide, we’ll go through the key Chinese cat vocabulary, and teach you how to use them in real-life conversations with example phrases and sentences. We’ve also compiled a list of common cat breeds in Chinese, with English translations and pictures to help you visualize.

And finally, for pet lovers who are thinking about adopting a new cat, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular cat names in Chinese for inspiration.

Let’s get rolling!

Table of Contents

How to Say Cat in Chinese

The word for “cat” in Chinese is 猫 (māo). Unlike some European languages, Mandarin Chinese does not assign genders to nouns, so both male and female cats are referred to as 猫 (māo). If you want to be more specific, you can say 公猫 (gōng māo) for a male cat and 母猫 (mǔ māo)  for a female cat.

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
male cat公猫gōng māo
female cat母猫mǔ māo

How to Say Cats in Chinese

Chinese nouns don’t have plural forms. So to say “cats” in Chinese, you still say 猫 (māo). However, when you quantify nouns, the numbers must be combined with a measure word that corresponds with the object being counted.

The corresponding measure word for cat in Chinese is 只 (zhī), which is also the most common measure word used for small animals (e.g. birds, chickens, rabbits, etc).

Here’s how you count cats in Chinese:

  • a/one cat
    yì zhī māo
  • two cats
    liǎng zhī māo
  • five cats
    wǔ zhī māo

If you’re unsure why we say 两只猫 (liǎng zhī māo) instead of 二只猫 (èr zhī māo) for “two cats”, we have this entire article dedicated to explaining the confusing number “two” in Chinese. If you don’t know how to count in Chinese yet, you should probably start with this tutorial.

How to Say Kitten in Chinese

The word for “kitten” in Chinese is 小猫 (xiǎo māo). It’s a very quick and simple word for you to learn. All you have to do is slap a 小 (xiǎo), meaning “small”, before the word 猫 (māo).

Alternatively, you can say 小猫咪 (xiǎo māomī), a cuter way of saying “kitten” in Chinese, similar to the way we say “kitty” in English.

So how would you say two kittens? It’ll be 两只小猫 (liǎng zhī xiǎo māo) or 两只小猫咪 (liǎng zhī xiǎo māomī).

How Cats Say Meow in Chinese

Cats sound the same all over the world, but the word that mimics the sound differs from language to language. In Chinese, cats don’t say “meow”, but “喵 (miāo) ”.

Related Reading: Animal Sounds in Chinese

Popular Cat Breeds in Chinese 

Cats have a long history of being treated like royalty and the same stands true in China today. Many Chinese people think of themselves as servants of their cats. Hence the word 猫奴 (māo nú) – “cat’s slave”.

According to a survey among Chinese cat owners in 2022, Ragdoll is the most popular purebred cat breed in China, followed by British Shorthair and Exotic Shorthair. Read on to find out how to say the most common and sought-after cat breed names in Chinese.

Ragdoll in Chinese


Bù ǒu
British shorthair in Chinese


Yīng duǎn
British Shorthair
Exotic shorthair in Chinese


Jiā fēi
Exotic Shorthair
American shorthair in Chinese


Měi duǎn
American Shorthair
Siamese in Chinese


Xiān luó
Scottish fold in Chinese


Sū gé lán zhé ěr
Scottish Fold
Persian cat in Chinese


Bō sī
Maine coon in Chinese


Miǎn yīn
Maine Coon
Sphynx cat in Chinese


Sī fēn kè sī
Devon rex in Chinese


Dé wén juǎn máo
Devon Rex
Abyssinian in Chinese


Ā bǐ xī ní yà
Munchkin cat in Chinese


Màn jī kāng
Oriental cat in Chinese


Dōng duǎn
Bengal cat in Chinese


Mèng jiā lā bào māo
Russian blue cat in Chinese


É luó sī lán māo
Russian Blue

Cats not belonging to any particular breed are referred to as 土猫 (tǔ māo) in Chinese, literally “native soil cats”. Here are the names of common Chinese domestic cats based on coats and color patterns.

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
black cat黑猫hēi māo
white cat白猫bái māo
tuxedo cat (black and white)奶牛猫nǎiniú māo
tabby cat虎斑猫hǔ bān māo
ginger cat橘猫jú māo
calico cat (tri color)三花sān huā
long-haired cat长毛猫cháng máo māo
short-haired cat短毛猫duǎn máo māo

Cat Body Parts in Chinese

Now let’s talk about the cat body parts in Chinese. You’ll find a list of words that compose the cat’s body in the picture below. Move your mouse to display the words in Chinese.




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General Chinese Cat Vocabulary  

So far so good? Now let’s learn the general vocabulary words related to cats in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
domestic cat家猫jiā māo
pet cat宠物猫chǒngwù māo
stray cat流浪猫liúlàng māo
cat owner猫主人māo zhǔrén
to adopt a cat领养猫lǐngyǎng māo
to raise a cat养猫yǎng māo
to board a cat寄养猫jìyǎng māo
to feed a cat喂猫wèi māo
to neuter a cat给猫做绝育gěi māo zuò juéyù
cat bed猫窝māo wō
cat food猫粮māo liáng
cat litter猫砂māo shā
cat litter box猫厕māo cè
cat toy猫玩具māo wánjù
scratching pad/post猫抓板/柱māo zhuā bǎn/zhù
pet store宠物店chǒngwù diàn
pet hospital宠物医院chǒngwù yīyuàn
pet boarding宠物寄养chǒngwù jìyǎng
pet hotel宠物酒店chǒngwù jiǔdiàn
Chinese cat cafe
Cat cafes, or 猫咖 (māo kā) in Mandarin, are wildly popular in China. You can play with adoptable cats while enjoying a drink or snack.

Cat Actions in Chinese

The most common cat behaviors include purring, kneading, grooming, scratching, etc. Let’s take a look at how to describe each of these cat actions in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
to meowmiāo
to purr咕噜咕噜gūlu gūlu
to knead踩奶cǎi nǎi
to headbutt/rubcèng
to sniffwén
to licktiǎn
to groom理毛lǐ máo
to shed掉毛diào máo
to throw up
to swish tail甩尾巴shuǎi wěiba
to scratchzhuā
to hiss
to growlhǒu
to yowljiào
to biteyǎo
in heat发情fā qíng

Chinese Phrases Related to Cats

Now it’s time to use some of this vocabulary in context. Here are some useful phrases and sentences involving cats in Chinese. Practicing these can help you develop your knowledge of Chinese grammar and Chinese sentence structure.

  • I Like cats.
    Wǒ xǐhuan māo.
  • Do you raise (have) a cat?
    Nǐ yǎng māo ma?
  • I raise (have) two ginger cats.
    Wǒ yǎng le liǎng zhī jú māo.
  • I live in Beijing with my husband and three cats.
    Wǒ hé wǒ zhàngfu háiyǒu sān zhī māo zhù zài Běijīng.
  • Do you like cats?
    Nǐ xǐhuan māo ma?
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs?
    Nǐ xǐhuan māo háishì gǒu?
  • I like cats more than dogs.
    Bǐ qǐ gǒu, wǒ gèng xǐhuan māo.
  • I am not a big fan of cats.
    Wǒ bú tài xǐhuan māo.
  • I am allergic to cats.
    Wǒ duì māo guòmǐn.
  • Whose cat is this?
    Zhè shì shéi de māo?
  • This is my friend’s cat.
    Zhè shì wǒ péngyou de māo.
  • Where is the cat?
    Māo zài nǎli?
  • The cat is under the couch.
    Māo zài shāfā xiàmian.
  • Come here, kitty!
    过来, 小猫咪!
    Guòlái, xiǎo māomī!
  • The cat is so cute!
    Zhè zhī māo zhēn kě’ài!

Common Chinese Cat Names

So what do Chinese people name their fluffy friends?

According to a recent survey carried out on major pet forums in China, 43% of the Chinese cat owners named their cat after food, and 25% of the cat names come with a double pair of syllables meant to double the cuteness.

We rounded up the ten most common classic cat names in Chinese here.

RankChinese Cat NamesLiteral Meaning
1咪咪 (Mīmi)kitty
2妹妹 (Mèimei)younger sister
3汤圆 (Tāngyuán)round dumpling
4花卷 (Huājuǎn)steamed twisted roll
5球球 (Qiúqiu)ball ball
6豆豆 (Dòudou)bean bean
7乖乖 (Guāiguai)good good
8跳跳 (Tiàotiao)jump jump
9蛋黄 (Dànhuáng)yolk
10橘子 (Júzi)orange

Famous Cat Names in Chinese

famous cat names in Chinese

While we’re on this subject, why don’t we take a quick look at how those famous cats are called in Chinese?

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
Garfield加菲猫Jiā fēi māo
Tom Cat (Tom & Jerry)汤姆猫Tāng mǔ māo
Felix the Cat菲力猫Fēi lì māo
Sylvester the Cat西尔维斯特猫Xī ěr wéi sī tè māo
Kitty (Hello Kitty)凯蒂猫Kǎi dì māo
Doraemon哆啦A梦Duō lā A mèng
Bob the Street Cat鲍勃Bào bó
Grumpy Cat不爽猫Bù shuǎng māo

Big Cat Names in Chinese

If a 猫 (māo) is a cat, then how do you name those 大猫 (dà māo) – “big cats” in Chinese?

Follow along and find out with the following table.

EnglishChinesePinyin Pronunciation
snow leopard雪豹xuěbào

Related Reading: Animal Names in Chinese

Expressions with Cats in Chinese

Wow, we’ve covered so much information about cats in Chinese in this post! If you’re still in the mood for more, here are five common Chinese idiomatic expressions featuring cats. Go get ’em, tiger!

三脚猫 (sān jiǎo māo)

“three-legged cat”

Meaning: Jack of all trades (master of none)


  • 请忍受一下我的三脚猫英语。
    Qǐng rěnshòu yíxià wǒ de sān jiǎo māo yīngyǔ.
    Please bear with my clumsy English.

老鼠见猫 (lǎoshǔ jiàn māo)

“mouse bumping into cat”

Meaning: panic and frightened when facing someone


  • 小偷见了警察, 就像老鼠见了猫, 撒腿就跑。
    Xiǎotōu jiàn le jǐngchá, jiù xiàng lǎoshǔ jiàn le māo, sā tuǐ jiù pǎo.
    Upon seeing the policeman, the thief ran away at once, just like when a mouse saw a cat.

猫哭老鼠 (māo kū lǎoshǔ)

“cat weeping for mouse”

Meaning: to shed crocodile tears


  • 我觉得她这样做有点猫哭老鼠,假慈悲。
    Wǒ juédé tā zhèyàng zuò yǒudiǎn māo kū lǎoshǔ, jiǎ cíbēi.
    I feel that what she is doing is hypocritical, something like “a cat weeping for a dead mouse”.

照猫画虎 (zhào māo huà hǔ)

“drawing a tiger using a cat as a model”

Meaning: make a poor imitation or attempt more than one has ability for


  • 他虽然没有学过汉字,但也照猫画虎跟着写了几个字。
    Tā suīrán méiyǒu xué guò hànzì, dàn yě zhào māo huà hǔ gēn zhe xiě le jǐ gè zì.
    Though he has never learned Chinese characters, he followed suit and drew a few characters.

阿猫阿狗 (ā māo ā gǒu)

“a cat, or dog”

Meaning: any Tom, Dick, or Harry (unimportant people)


  • 阿猫阿狗也比你做得好。
    Ā māo ā gǒu yě bǐ nǐ zuò de hǎo.
    Any random person can do better than you.

in memory of our cat Shittie
This post is dedicated to the loving memory of our cat Shittie (2015-2021), who passed away from complications of heart disease at the age of six.

Bravo! You’ve learned all about cats in Chinese! While you’re here, feel free to explore ImproveMandarin.Com, one of the world’s largest sites dedicated to Mandarin learning.

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