Why Cats Have Different Names In Different Countries?

Most of the names on this list are from my own experience, some of them were copied from Wikipedia or other sites that listed/described different names for cats in Asia.

I’ve traveled quite a lot and had many Asian housemates. So I had the opportunity to hear those names more than once, some of those were just nicknames used by me and their friends (like the ‘snail’ one), but most of them can be found in books or online articles.

Most of these names exist for at least two species – Cats and Foxes for example Lion Cat vs Lion Dog. Others refer to breeds, like in Malaysia they call Chartreux ‘Panther’.

Chartreux is also called the ‘Mouse Tiger’ in Thailand and Japan.

One of my housemates in China told me that when she was little together with her friends, they always gave their cats the name of an animal they were afraid of; like Snake Cat or Crocodile Cat. But not all of them were evil, like Tiger Cat.

So please keep in mind that these names might be used in different countries with different meanings or for other reasons – they are just general descriptions. Maybe it’s the same as when you call someone ‘Stormy’ or ‘Sunny’. You may have had a fight with your friend called Stormy, so you describe another girl next to her as being ‘stormy’, but this appellation has nothing to do with her character, but with past experiences connected to this name.

Also, some of the names below might refer/describe more than one breed or species of cat – because there are various breeds under one very popular name in Asia For example if nothing else works, they just say ‘Bengal Cat’.

There are also different words in use for the same breed or kind of cat, depending on which country you’re in – so I try to list them all.

Like when describing Persian cats people in Asia often don’t mention their name, but call them ‘Long Hair’ – even if the cat has nothing to do with Persians.

There are also a few names of wild cats in Asia that could be called a ‘cat-like the Ocelot or Caracal. Those were not included here.

The list is sorted alphabetically by country, so you might want to read it from top to bottom instead of scrolling down. Or perhaps start with the countries where you live/lived/will travel…

I never found out why. Maybe because it would scare their enemies away? Or maybe they just thought it would be cute when they grow up?

Anyway, if you use these names when your cat (or dog) is playing or when you’re talking about him/her to other people – most likely no one will understand what you are referring to.

I hope you will enjoy the list!

– Pumis are called ‘Mouse Cats’ in Thailand, Vietnam, or Malaysia. People there do not like mice at all – I guess that’s where the name comes from.

In Japan, they call Chartreux ‘Panther’, but also often ‘Kurilian Bobtail’. For some reason, I never heard anyone calling them by their European names, even if they do know it well enough to be able to write it properly…

Elsewhere I have heard them being called ‘Siberian Cat’. But since these are not native to Siberia it makes no sense. At least for me… Maybe I’m wrong? Please drop a comment if you have an explanation.

In Vietnam, they call very fluffy cats ‘Donskoy’, but I’ve never heard anyone using this name for other breeds. And my Russian friends have no idea where the name comes from or how it is being used in Vietnam…

– They are also called ‘Forest Cats’. But my cousin’s daughter in Korea was convinced, when she saw one of these photos, that they are ‘Korean Forest Cats’.

It- Also often just called ‘Himalayan Cat’. An American friend told me he recalled being told by a vet that they were actually not Himalayan anymore! Which makes even less sense to me…

The most common names applied to them seem to be Lion Dog and Imperial Cat in Asia, but in the USA people often call them ‘Burmese Cat’.

On a side note: In all I’ve seen in books and online in the last 5 years the whole breed is being called ‘Siamese’, but when talking with a breeder from Thailand at one international cat show only she was calling her cats Siamese.

In Asia, they are also commonly referred to as ‘Blue Point’ or just ‘Points’. Sometimes even as Chocolate Points, but mostly for Siamese Cats… So it makes no sense!

– In South Korea, they’re either simply called “Stumpy Tailed” (사다리꼬꼬) or Jjinttaekkom (찌라시).

– In Japan, I have never heard anyone calling them ‘Short Tail’, but rather just Point or sometimes Spotted. And in Vietnam, they are often called “Thai Point”, even though the breed comes from Siam, not Thailand…

I’ve also seen names like Black-Footed Cat, Sand Cat, and Cape Hunting Dog being used online. But no one has explained why…

– They are often called Lan Chi in China, which means ‘Bastard’. Or it might be referring to the color of their coats. Though I don’t get it either…

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