All About Cats in French 🐈

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

How do you say cat in French? What’s the French word for kitten? What about kitty in French? Let’s learn the French cat vocabulary and avoid an embarrassment!

How do you Say Cat in French?

There are 2 words to say cat in French

  1. Le chat – male cat (say sha)
  2. la chatte – female cat (say shat)

The common synonym for “un chat” is “un minou”.
The common synonym for “une chatte” is “une minette”.

What’s the French Word for kitten?

The French word for kitten is “le chaton”. It’s always used in the masculine, even if it’s a female kitten.

So how would you say female kitten? C’est un petit chaton femelle.

How do You Say Chat in French?

If “un chat” is ‘a cat’, then how do you say ‘a chat’ in French…

The traditional translation is “une discussion”, “un bavardage”… We tend to use the verb more: “discuter”, “bavarder” or even more used “papoter” :-)
On a papoté toute la soirée !
We chatted all evening long!

Yet, for online chatting we use the English word and pronounce it sort of the English way [tshat]. We even turn it into a verb:
Tu veux chatter avec moi ?
Would you like to chat with me?

French Cat Embarrassing Mistake

So, I’m sorry in advance if I’m shocking some people, but you need to be aware of this since not knowing would lead you to a very embarrassing situation.

The female cat is called “la chatte”. That’s right. Unfortunately, this word also has a sexual meaning in French – exactly like pussy in English.

So… the same way as in English a woman may not want to say: “my pussy is so soft”… the exact same kind of innuendo exists in French.

Now, among cat owners, or cat breeders, I’m sure this ship has sailed… but with common French folks, just refer to your female cat as if she were a male… or at least read the room!

Another way around it is to use the common synomyme “une minette”. You can say : “ma petite minette est très douce” – my little female cat is very soft” and they’re will be not problem with that!

25 French Cat Words

And now let’s study some French cat vocabulary

  1. Le chat – male cat (say sha)
  2. la chatte – female cat (say shat)
  3. le chaton – kitten, always masculine
  4. les moustaches – whiskers
  5. les pattes – paws
  6. les griffes – claws
  7. la queue – tail
  8. Une boule de poils – hair ball
  9. la litière – litter
  10. Des croquettes (f) = dry cat food
  11. De la nourriture pour chat = cat food
  12. Une laisse = a leash
  13. Un harnais = a harness
  14. Un collier de chat = a cat collar
  15. Une caisse/ une cage de transport = a cat crate
  16. Un panier = a cat bed
  17. Un tapis = a carpet
  18. Un jouet = a toy
  19. Un jouet à mâcher = chew toy
  20. Une balle = a ball
  21. Une souris = a mouse
  22. Un arbre à chat = cat tree / climbing poles
  23. Un griffoir = scratching pole
  24. Un chat de gouttière = alley cat
  25. Un matou = a big, large male cat
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How Are Famous Cat Names Translated in French?

  1. The Musical Cats is still called… Cats in French!
  2. What about “Hello Kitty”? Same name… Hello Kitty !! Garfield, Tom, Felix… they are all called the same in French. But we do have a different French name for the Pussy Cat Sylvester of Warner Bros : Gros Minet . Tweety bird is called “Titi” in French, and the cartoon series “Titi et Gros Minet”…

7 French Cat Verbs

  1. Miauler – to meow
  2. Ronronner – to purr
  3. Feuler – to hiss
  4. Grogner – to growl
  5. Griffer – to scratch 
  6. Perdre ses poils – to lose one’s hair
  7. Se frotter contre mes jambes – to rub against my legs

5 French Cat Actions

  1. Le miaulement – meowing
  2. Le ronronnement – purring
  3. Le feulement – hissing
  4. Le grognement – growl
  5. La griffure – scratch

What Does A Cat Say in French

French cats say “miaou”.

Common French Cat Names

Common French cat names include Minet, Minou, Mistigri, Minette (f), Mouss…

More French cat names in my article.

6 Fun French Cat Expressions

Here are a few common French idioms refering to cats.

Calling a Cat a Cat

Appeler un Chat un Chat
To say things straight, like they are, without hesitation.

To give Your Tongue to the Cat

Donner sa langue au chat
To run out of guesses – So watch out, not exactly the same meaning as “Cat got your tongue?” in English.

There is not one Cat Around

Il n’y a pas un chat
There is nobody at all

To Have a Cat in the Throat

Avoir un chat dans la gorge
To have difficulty speaking because of a sore throat

It’s cat’s pee

C’est du pipi de chat
It’s nothing important

To Have Other cats to Whip

Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter
To have other worries

Common French Cat Breed

To say “cat breed” in French we use the words “une race de chat”. I know this sounds really bad in English but that’s how we say breed in French.

10 popular French cat breeds

  1. Le Maine Coon
  2. Le British Shorthair
  3. Le Ragdoll
  4. Le Persan
  5. Le Chartreux
  6. Le Sacré de Birmanie
  7. Le Norvégien
  8. Le Sphynx
  9. Le Siamois
  10. Le Bengal

Usually cat breed names are really close between French and English, so don’t hesitate to just say the English name with a French accent!

Beginner French Practice Cat Video 😻

And now for a treat! My bilingual daughter Leyla did a video about cats and dogs using the popular video game Minecraft! Enjoy!

Bonjour, c’est Leyla, and welcome to French Today !

Today, I’m going to tell you about cats and dogs in French: here is the French transcript and the English translation of my video: scroll down to play it and learn the correct French pronunciation of all these words!

Use the floating blue icon in the bottom right to hide/reveal the English translations below or just click here.

Les chiens et les chats sont des animaux de compagnie.

Dogs and cats are pets.

Cat in French

Alors, nous allons commencer par les chats.

So let’s start with the cats.

Souvent, en France, on appelle “un chat” “un minou, ou un minet, ou encore un matou”…
Mon chat ici s’appelle “Mistigri”.

Often in France, a cat is called …
My cat is called here “Mistigri”.

Une dame chat s’appelle “une chatte”. Souvent, en France on dit “une minette”, et c’est aussi le nom que j’ai décidé de lui donner.

A lady cat is called “une chatte”. Often, in France we say “a pussycat” and this is also the name that I decided to give her.

Et un bébé chat s’appelle “un chaton”. Il est trop mignon !

And a baby cat is called a “kitten”. He is so cute !

Quand il veut quelque chose, le chat miaule. En français, il fait “miaou”.
Quand il est content, il ronronne.
Et quand il est en colère, il feule.
Il peut aussi grogner, et parfois, il va griffer.

When he wants something, the cat meows. In French it says “meow”.
When he is happy, he purrs.
And when he is angry, he hisses.
It can also growl, and sometimes it will scratch.

Then Leyla moves on to talk about French dogs – how dare she? Please follow the link to my complete French dog guide for the transcript and English translation of the second part of the video.

Et vous ? Est-ce que vous avez un animal de compagnie ? Si oui, comment s’appelle-t-il ?

And you ? Do you have a pet? If so, how is it called?

Voilà, c’est tout pour aujourd’hui.

Here you go, that’s all for today.

Remember to check out French Today dot com for blog articles and your free audio book to learn French like it is spoken today.

Would you like to suggest more vocabulary or expressions? Please include them, with English translations, in the comments below and I’ll gladly add them to my list!

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 25+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Come to Paimpol and enjoy an exclusive French immersion homestay with me in Brittany.

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