All about Cats in Chinese: Vocabulary, Breeds, Names, and More
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.
|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 2021, 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.
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.
|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.
yǎnjing1 of 9 ear
ěrduo2 of 9 nose
bízi3 of 9 mouth
zuǐ4 of 9 whisker
húxū5 of 9 fur
máo6 of 9 tail
wěiba7 of 9 leg
tuǐ8 of 9 paw
zhuǎzi9 of 9
General Chinese Cat Vocabulary
So far so good? Now let’s learn the general vocabulary words related to cats in Chinese.
|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|
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.
|to purr||咕噜咕噜||gūlu gūlu|
|to knead||踩奶||cǎi nǎi|
|to groom||理毛||lǐ máo|
|to shed||掉毛||diào máo|
|to throw up||吐||tù|
|to swish tail||甩尾巴||shuǎi wěiba|
|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?
- Where is the cat?
Māo zài nǎli?
- The cat is under the couch.
Māo zài shāfā xiàmian.
- Come here, kitty!
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.
|Rank||Chinese Cat Names||Literal Meaning|
|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|
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?
|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.
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)
Meaning: Jack of all trades (master of none)
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
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
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)
Ā māo ā gǒu yě bǐ nǐ zuò de hǎo.
Any random person can do better than you.
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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