You know what they say…a house is not complete without a cat.
And since we’ve already covered all the Italian names for family members, it’s time to talk about another important presence in the household.
Today you will learn how to say cat in Italian.
The Italian word for cat
The Italian word for cat is gatto. It is a masculine singular word, and its other forms are:
- gatta: (feminine singular)
- gatti: (masculine plural)
- gatte: (feminine plural)
If the cat you’re talking about is very big, you can call it a gattone. And if you want to say “kitten” in Italian, the word you’re looking for is “gattino”.
Devo tornare a casa a dar da mangiare al gatto.
I gotta go home to feed the cat.
Stanotte ci hanno lasciato una scatola piena di gattini davanti alla porta, e ora stiamo cercando una casa per loro.
Somebody left a box full of kittens at our door tonight, and now we’re looking for a house for them.
Note: American English speakers use the term “big cats” to refer to large felines. Italians do not usually do this. Instead, they use gatto only to describe the little furry friends you’d expect to see in a house. The right way to translate “big cat” when it is used to refer to lions or other felines is “felino di grossa taglia“.
Another word you can use to translate “cat” to Italian is micio. It’s a friendly alternative to gatto. People use it mostly to attract a cat’s attention or to compliment it.
Micio micio micio, vieni qui!
Hey, kitty cat, come here!
Ma che bel micione!
What a beautiful cat!
In English, we say that “curiosity killed the cat“. Italian proverbs about cats are often less drastic. Here are a few:
This proverb means that those who try to hide their misconduct will be caught soon or later.
Tanto va la gatta al lardo, che ci lascia lo zampino.
“The cat aims to the lard [so greedily] that she leaves a footprint.”
When those who rule are away, all the other people will do what they really want. This proverb can be said with both positive and negative implications;
Quando il gatto non c’è, i topi ballano.
“When the cat is away, the mice dance.”
It’s the equivalent of the English proverb “I smell a rat“. It means the speaker feels something is not quite right;
Qui gatta ci cova.
“There’s a cat hatching here.”
Meaning that a place is nearly desert – if not for a couple of people;
Qui ci sono quattro gatti.
“There are just four cats here.”
It’s similar to “a fish to fry“. It means “a difficult thing to do“;
Una gatta da pelare.
“A cat to fleece”
It means that doing things in a rush will never get you what you want.
La gatta frettolosa fa i figli ciechi.
“A hasty cat makes blind kittens”.
… okay, maybe the last scenario is more drastic than dying out of curiosity. Luckily, cats have their way of fighting back and getting themself out of unpleasant situations.
That’s why Italians also say:
cadere in piedi come un gatto.
“to land on one’s own feet like a cat“;
There’s also another meaning that it is not wise to brag about something you’ve not achieved yet.
Non dire gatto se non ce l’hai nel sacco.”
“Don’t say ‘cat’ if it’s not in your sack.”
Are you a cat or a dog person?
As you can see, whatever your favorite animal is, knowing how to say “cat” in Italian can help you understand many proverbs that are used in everyday life.
Besides, kittens are one of the most common topics on the web, and you can find a lot of pages and meme groups about cats on social networks.
Now you can join them too.
Have fun reading the next Italian memes about the grumpy cat or the “gatto schifomadò”. But don’t forget to come back to learn new Italian words!
If you are a dog person, you may want to learn Italian names for dogs.
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