How Do You Say Cat in German? It Is the Number One Pet in Germany!
Germany counts as a very pet-friendly country. Knowing how to talk about the beloved non-human members of their families is a great conversation icebreaker! Cats live in over 20 percent of German households, which makes them the most popular pet in Germany. Yes, they are more popular than dogs!
In today’s article, you will learn how to say cat in German together with a lot of useful vocabulary related to pets. You will even find out that cats have something to do with hangovers in the German language. So, stay with us!
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How Do You Say Cat in German?
It is very simple to translate cat into German. The universal word is (die) Katze, pronounced [ˈkatsə] in the IPA transcription. Don’t forget that it is feminine (die). Even a male cat is referred to as die Katze in German unless you need to specify the gender (more about that later). The plural form is Katzen.
Let’s take a look at some example sentences.
- Meine Katze ist unter dem Sessel verschwunden. – My cat disappeared under the armchair.
- Katzen gehören zu den empfindlichsten Tierarten. – Cats are among the most sensitive animal species.
German Phrases and Idioms Related to Cats
The fact that cats are so popular among Germans is reflected in their language as well. You can find countless idioms and sayings mentioning one cat or another. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
- Mit jemandem Katz und Maus spielen – to play cat and mouse with somebody. As you can see, you can translate it literally into English. Katz is not a typo in this case! However, it appears mostly only in phrases such as this one.
- Falsch wie eine Katze sein – to be two-faced. Similarly, you can use falsch wie eine Schlange – literally “false like a snake.” You can use both when talking about someone who is insincere (unaufrichtig) or deceitful (hinterlistig).
- Nachts sind alle Katzen grau. – All colors will agree in the dark. Or “All cats are grey by night.” It means that you can’t make a difference between certain things under certain circumstances.
- Ist die Katze aus dem Haus, tanzen die Mäuse auf dem Tisch. – When the cat is away, the mice will play. It means that when there is no one in charge, people will do as they please. The literal translation of the German proverb is that the mice will dance on the table.
- Die Katze im Sack kaufen – to do a blind bargain. The German version means “to buy the cat in the bag.” Another possible translation is to buy a pig in a poke.
- Einen Kater haben – to have a hangover
(Der) Kater is literally a male cat. This word is, however, much more commonly used in the colloquial phrase einen Kater haben – to have a hangover. You can say for example Am nächsten Morgen wachte ich mit einem Kater auf. – I woke up the next morning with a hangover.
German Cats and Genders
Determining gender in the German language can be tricky. Die Katze is a perfect example of that. It is feminine no matter if you refer to male or female cats. The word der Kater (male cat) is a specialized term you can use when you need to specify the actual gender of the cat.
Don’t forget that (der) Kater also means a hangover as we have discussed above. As a matter of fact, the sentence “Mein Kater ist aggressiv.” can mean both “My cat is aggressive” and “my hangover is aggressive.” However, the context will guide you.
You can even encounter (die) Kätzin which means a female cat as opposed to (der) Kater. As in Sie müssen eine Kätzin mit einem gültigen Stammbaum haben. – You must have a female (cat) with a valid pedigree.
How to Translate Kitten into German
We have learned how to distinguish between female and male cats. How would you say “kitten” in German? There are several possible translations.
- (das) Kätzchen – “-chen” is a typical ending for diminutives (e.g. das Häuschen – little house, das Schwesterchen – little sister)
- (das) Kätzlein – Like “-chen,” you can often use the ending “-lein” to form diminutives in German (e.g. das Mäuslein – little mouse, das Entlein – baby duckling).
If a word ends in -chen or -lein, it is always neuter regardless of the gender of the basic word. Also, if it is possible, add an umlaut (ä, ö, ü) to the root, such as Kätzchen or Kätzlein.
You can also use das Junge or Junges when you talk about young animals. Wenn der Elefant stirbt, dann stirbt das Junge sowieso. – If the elephant dies, the baby elephant dies anyway.
Common Compound Words Related to Cats
We can’t forget the German penchant for compound words. Let’s look into some of them that contain the word “Katze.”
- (die) Wildkatze – wild cat – Kleine Wildkazten sind genauso verspielt wie kleine Hauskatzen. – Young wild cats are as playful as young house cats. In this sentence, you can see another compound word – (die) Hauskatze.
- (der) Katzenkratzer – this one looks like a tongue-twister. It is pronounced [ˈkatsənˈkʁatsəʁ] and it means “a cat scratch.”
- (die) Katzenallergie – you suffer from this if you are allergic to cats. Ich hoffe, du hast keine Katzenallergie. – I hope you aren’t allergic to cats.
- (das) Katzengold – fool’s gold. You can use this word when talking about something its owner thinks to be valuable, but it is really not.
- (der) Katzenvogel – birds (der Vogel, PL Vögel) and cats usually hate each other, but (der) Katzenvogel (catbird) is a name for a beautiful bird species.
Don’t forget to take a look at our revolutionary German Frequency Dictionaries. We have carefully selected 10,000 most common German words. Each entry also has a phonetic transcription to help you pronounce it correctly. 10,000 German-English example sentences show you word usage in context, which makes learning a new language fast and effective.
Here is a fun-fact to conclude this lesson. Germans affectionally use the word (der) Stubentiger, which literally means “living-room tiger,” when they refer to their beloved cats. (Die) Stube is a dated term for a (living) room. It is something like a parlor in English.
We hope you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below. We will be more than happy to answer!