How do you say cat in Italian?

How exactly do you say cat in Italian?

If you have a feline pet and are curious to know what words you can use to describe them in Italian, this is the lesson for you! Along with the translation and audio clips for cat in Italian, we’ll have a look at a cat’s body parts and mannerisms.

Let’s start! Iniziamo!


How do you say cat in Italian

Cat in Italian is translated as gatto. It is a masculine noun.

Un gatto
A cat

Dei gatti
Some cats

Il gatto
The cat

I gatti
The cats

Etymology: cat in Italian comes from Latin cattus.

gatto - cat in italian

Il gatto
The cat

I gatti
The cats

Il gatto dorme sul davanzale.
The cat is sleeping on the windowsill.

La mia vicina ha sei gatti.
My neighbor has six cats.

Its pronunciation is similar to gaht-toh. Make sure not to add a -w sound to the final -o. Italian vowel sounds are clean.

Along with gatto, gatta, the feminine form is also used. Generally speaking if you happen to stumble upon a cat while taking a walk through your neighborhood you would use the masculine variant, but if you’re 100% certain the cat is a lady you can refer to her as gatta instead.

female cat in italian - calico cat

➡️ How do you say “to be like cats and dogs” in Italian? DON’T YOU MISS the lesson on cat idioms in Italian!


Kitten in Italian

Kitten is translated as gattino, if male, and gattina, if female. The suffixes -ino and -ina are used to make things or people smaller, so these words could be literally translated as “small cat”.

See this lesson for a full list of descriptive Italian suffixes!

Un gattino
A kitten

Dei gattini
Some kittens

Il gattino
The kitten

I gattini
The kittens

Il gattino
The kitten (male)

La gattina
The kitten (female)

Abbiamo trovato un gattino abbandonato davanti casa.
We found an abandoned kitten in front of our house.

La gattina beve del latte da un piattino di ceramica.
The kitten drinks milk from a ceramic saucer.

kitten in italian

Terms of endearment for cats in Italian

Gatto is not the only translation for cat in Italian, but it’s the most neutral. When you particularly like a cat, you can address them as micio, if male, or micia, if female, to convey affection similarly to kitty in English.

Un micio
A kitty

Dei mici
Some kitties

Il micio
The kitty

I mici
The kitties

Il micio
The kitty (male)

La micia
The kitty (female)

Micio is pronounced as mee-choh.

Al mio micio piace dormire sul cofano delle macchine.
My kitty likes to sleep on the hood of cars.

Hai visto la micia? Non si fa vedere da stamattina.
Have you seen the kitty? She hasn’t shown up since this morning.

If you want to be even more affectionate, you can say micione, if your cat is a BIG one, micetto or micino if it’s particularly small and cute.

Micione, micetto, micino
Kitty

the kitty sleeps - sleeping cat

“Big cats” refers to tigers and lions in English. These are known as grandi felini in Italian, “big felines”. Gattone or micione, even if they are translated as “big cat”, are used to address our furry pets.


Cat body parts in Italian

Here is a list of all the specific body parts of a cat in Italian.

I baffi, le vibrisse
The whiskers
(Baffi is more common, vibrisse is the technical term)

Le zampe
The paws

Il pelo
The fur

La coda
The tail

Il muso
The snout, the muzzle

Gli artigli
The claws

cat scratching a curtain with its claws

Words are useless without context, so let me add an example for each of these.

È vero che i gatti si orientano grazie ai baffi?
Is it true that cats get their bearings by their whiskers?

Il gattino tiene una zampa sollevata. Come mai?
The kitten holds one paw up. How come?

Quali sono le razze di gatti a pelo lungo?
What are the breeds of long-haired cats?

Quando il gatto tiene la coda alta, significa che è felice.
When the cat holds its tail high, it means it is happy.

Questo gatto ha un muso molto dolce.
This cat has a very sweet muzzle.

Il gatto ha graffiato le tende con gli artigli!
The cat scratched the curtains with its claws!


Other kinds of cat in Italian

A kitty cat who lives with you is a gatto domestico or gatto di casa, which is the opposite of gatto randagio, stray cat.

Il gatto domestico / Il gatto di casa
The domestic cat / The house cat

Il gatto randagio
The stray cat

stray cat

Cats that are not purebred (tabby ones) are known as gatti soriani (gatto soriano in the singular), while purebred cats are called gatti di razza (or gatto di razza in the singular).

Il gatto soriano
The tabby cat

Il gatto di razza
The purebred cat

maine coon cat - purebred cat in italian

Cats can either be a pelo lungo, long-haired, or a pelo corto, short-haired.

Il gatto a pelo lungo
The long-haired cat

Il gatto a pelo corto
The short-haired cat


Popular cat breeds in Italian

Some cat breeds are more common than others, so it can be useful to know what they are called in Italian.

Gatto persiano
Persian cat

Gatto norvegese
Norwegian cat

Gatto certosino
Chartreuse cat

Gatto siamese
Siamese cat

siamese cat

A couple of examples…

Mi piacerebbe tanto avere un certosino!
I would love to have a Chartreuse cat!

La famiglia che vive sopra di noi ha un gatto persiano di nome Joey.
The family living above us has a Persian cat named Joey.


Behaviors of a cat in Italian

Cats are very habit-forming animals (animali abitudinari), so let’s now have a look at the most common mannerisms of a cat in Italian.

If you like petting (accarezzare) your cat, they will start purring. Purring is translated into Italian as fare le fusa, “to do the purrs”.

Fare le fusa
To purr

I gatti fanno spesso le fusa quando li accarezzi.
Cats often purr when you pet them.


If you annoy them though, they can hiss (soffiare)!

Soffiare
To hiss

Quando il veterinario fa per avvicinarsi a lui, il gatto soffia.
When the vet makes to approach him, the cat hisses.

hissing cat in italian

When a cat wants attention, it will meow (miagolare).

Miagolare
To meow

Il gatto miagola davanti alla porta d’ingresso.
The cat meows in front of the front door.


Cats also love to sneak into tight and cozy places. To do this, they will “turn into a donut” (acciambellarsi or raggomitolarsi). The first verb comes from the word ciambella, meaning donut, while raggomitolarsi comes from gomitolo, ball of yarn.

Acciambellarsi
To curl up

Raggomitolarsi
To curl up

Il mio gatto adora acciambellarsi nell’incavo delle mie ginocchia.
My cat loves to curl up in the crook of my knees.


Cats also devote much of their day to cleaning themselves (lavarsi).

Lavarsi
To clean themselves

Quando un gatto si lava dietro le orecchie, si dice che pioverà a breve.
When a cat cleans itself behind its ears, it is said it will be raining soon.

cat cleaning its paw

When are scared, cats can “raise their fur”, rizzare il pelo, meaning to bristle.

Rizzare il pelo
To bristle

Quando vide il cane, il gattino rizzò il pelo.
When it saw the dog, the kitten bristled.

If you want to ask your vet to spay your cat, you will need to say sterilizzare.

Sterilizzare
To spay

Ho fatto sterilizzare la mia gatta due giorni fa.
I had my cat spayed two days ago.


Cat people in Italian

Cats are beloved animals by many. Cat lovers are called gattofili in Italian as a joke (gattofilo in the singular), more commonly amanti dei gatti (or amante dei gatti).

Il gattofilo
The cat lover

L’amante dei gatti
The cat lover

lady walking a cat on a stroller

Then we have the gattara, cat lady, which is a pejorative term for an adult, single woman who devotes her life to taking care of stray cats or lives with many cats. (The Crazy Cat Lady in The Simpsons show is a perfect example of a gattara!)

La gattara
The cat lady

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!


Other words to talk about a cat in Italian

What about cat food, cat litter? How do you say catnip in Italian? Here’s a handy list of words you can use to talk about your cat in Italian:

Erba gatta
Catnip

Cibo per gatti
Cat food
(“Food for cats”)

Gattaiola
Cat flap

Lettiera
Cat litter

Trasportino
Kennel

Collare
Collar

Tiragraffi
Scratching post

That’s it! Now you know everything you need to start obsessing over your cat in Italian.

➡️ How do you say “to be like cats and dogs” in Italian? DON’T YOU MISS the lesson on cat idioms in Italian!


What next?

Now that you’ve seen how to say cat in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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