European Miaow

“There’s very good evidence that the average cat in Europe has a larger environmental footprint in its lifetime than the average African.”

Jason W. Clay, World Wildlife Fund

On almost every European street there is a cat mooching around doing some very important cat business. Almost every European window is adorned with a cozy kitty soaking up the sun napping off all that hard work. They are just purrfect! Chunky, fuzzy, skinny, tall, short, with a tail or no tail – the cat is the pet of choice and holds a special place in the heart of Europeans. They are true furnomenons so to say. But are we sure about the sound they make? Is it ‘Miao’? ‘Miaow’? Could it be ‘Miaou’? or maybe ‘Miyaou’? We already listened to how cocks crow and how dogs bark all over Europe, let’s now discover how cats miaow!



I threw the stick at the cat-cat, But the cat-cat, Has not died-ed-ed!” We already told you what Portuguese people do to their cats in their nursery rhymes… Well, expect their feline friends to answer with an evocative Miau! in response…



You wouldn’t try to ‘bring the cat to the water’, would you? Well… Spaniards do – or, as they say: se llevan el gato al agua. It’s a very common Spanish phrase which means to succeed in pulling it off. They also have lots of other funny expressions. For more, go this way.



Ever heard of Félicette? She was the first cat launched into space in 1963 as part of the French space program. Most of the data from her mission was of good quality enough for French engineers to pursue their research. Oh yeah, because, happy ending: Félicette survived the flight! Miau!



‘What is the name of that strange little creature?’ he asked. The merchant answered: ‘We call it a cat.’ Elsewhere, we presented you the Icelandic fairy tale The Cottager and his Cat, – now guess how the cat introduced himself?

United Kingdom – Ireland

Miaow! – Miau!

As even the most casual royal watchers know, pets are a big part of the royal family’s life. But only Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin has a cat… With all the dogs in the royal family, are cats getting left out?



Norwegian Forest cats aren’t just any pedestrian pet – they’re the stuff of legend. Norwegian myths tell of the skogkatt, a large, long-haired “mountain-dwelling fairy cat with an ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not manage.”


Mjao! – Mjau! – Mjao! – Jam!

There is only one breed of cat that hails from Sweden and that’s the European Shorthair. This cat originally was from Rome but made its way around Europe, and the Swedes continued to breed the cat similar to what they were in Roman times.


Miau! – Mau! – Nau! – Kurnau!

Hey, did you know that the Finns sometimes call their @ sign the ‘little cat’s tail’ (or kissanhäntä in Finnish) or even the ‘meow-meow’ (miukumauku)? No kidding… You’ll think about them next time you send an email to Santa Claus


Mjau! – Mjav! – Miau! – Miav!

Danes have their own kind of piñata. It’s called slå katten af tønden (“hit the cat out of the barrel”). They use a wooden barrel, which is full of candy and has the image of a cat on it. The one who knocks down the bottom of the barrel becomes kattedronning (“queen of cats”)…


Miauw! – Mauw!

A serious newspaper once asked the question: Are there more cats than people in The Netherlands? After all, the Dutch are the ones who invented the Kattencafe – a place to enjoy your coffee surrounded by cats – and the canal boat – a boat turned into a cat shelter…


Miau! – Miauw! 

Yes, Belgians have strange collections… Did you know that, on top of the Manneken Pis, the little boy peeing, you could find in Brussels her sister peeing, the Jeanneke Pis and even their dog Het Zinneke? But we haven’t found the status of their cat, yet…

Germany – Austria – Switzerland


There is a painting hung above the stairs leading to the chancel of the mighty Austrian Church of Mariatrost in Graz. The mysterious painting depicts a witch seated atop a large cat flying through the air. If you want to know more about this legend, follow us this way


Miao! – Miau! – Mao!

The Gattara – Italians have a very funny untranslatable word which simply means ‘a cat lady’. It’s a cultural archetype or a stock character, often depicted as an unmarried woman, middle-aged or elderly, who owns many pet cats or feeds stray ones.

Czechia – Slovakia


One of the first cats to find a voice in a novel was in Smil Flaška’s Nová rada, written in the late 14th century. In this allegorical poem, a young king summons a ‘new council’ of birds and beasts to advise him on how best to rule. Guess which animal was the most cunning?



There were once two little kittens. Ah-ah-ah, two little kittens, They were both greyish-brown. Oh, sleep, my darling, All children, even the bad ones, Are already asleep, Only you are not“. This very popular Polish lullaby is said to date back over a century!



A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.” This is the article 13 of the self-declared constitution of the Republic of Užupis – a neighbourhood in Vilnius who also found itself a flag, an unofficial currency, a president and an army of 11 men. Crazy


Mjau! – Nau!

There is in Riga a building called the Cat House. It is known for the two cat sculptures on its roof, with arched backs and raised tails. The owner of the house wanted the cats’ tails turned towards the house of the Great Guild, as he held a grudge against its members…


Mäu! – Mjäu! – Näu! – Njau! – Kurnjau!

Foreigners often have difficulties understanding Estonian behaviour. In order to understand Estonia better, you need to realise that Estonians are actually the human version of cats!” This stereotypical theory developed by a blogger couldn’t be more refreshing! 


мяу! (mjau!)

Thousands of people have already fallen in love with Belarus – the cross-eyed kitty who loves the camera, lives in San Francisco and is a real social media furnomenon. Belarus on his Instagram page has now more than 300,000 followers…


няв! (niav!)

My pussycat, my pussycat, Don’t get on the shelf, Don’t drop the mugs. Don’t eat the cream.” Ukrainians have lovely nursery songs and well-behave kittens – they like to sing this lovely melody along with their favorite pet! Niav!

Moldova – Romania


When Romanians feel brave and want to get to the bottom of things, they tackle their problems head on. They say they are ‘breaking the cat in half’ (A rupe pisica-n două). Maybe not something animal-lovers would appreciate, but apparently, nothing says it better!


Nyau! – Miaú! 

Hungarians never suffer a hangover. No, they rather suffer a ‘cat’s wail’ instead! The Hungarian term is macskajaj and looks quite hard to pronounce. Fortunately, spas and bathhouses are supposedly the best cure for a hangover – and Budapest hosts several of them…



Slovenes are just like cats – they eat dormice. Yes they do… Slovenes particularly enjoy cooking those little critters in a red wine stew with vegetables. Their carcasses can be cooked whole and in large quantities – a delicacy Slovenes call Obara. Bon Appétit!



Cat lovers beware. Croatia, especially on the coast and islands, is simply full of cats. You will easily find yourself spending part of your trip sitting on a sea-facing wall somewhere, distributing a modest can of sardines, surrounded by satisfied and appreciative felines.

Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro – Kosovo

мњау! (mnjau!)

Cats are movies in the Balkans. If you’ve never seen Black Cat, White Cat directed by Emir Kusturica, go for it! It’s a 1998 Serbian romantic black comedy film that won the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the Venice Film Festival.



Albanians so much like their feline friends that they even dedicated a full collection of stamps to pay them tribute! In the country, cats and kittens miaow with the latin alphabet and most of the time several times: Mjau-Mjau!


мяу! (mjau!)

He’s been making other cats green with envy but a Bulgarian moggy’s mysterious emerald coat has finally been explained! It has emerged that the cat who accessed to world fame for his unusual colours has actually been sleeping on the top of an abandoned pile of synthetic green paint in a garage.

North Macedonia

мјау! (mjau!)

What appears on the North Macedonian five denar coin? A big cat! Or, more precisely, a Balkan lynx – the largest cat in the Balkans and a national symbol of the Republic of North Macedonia. There are from 35 to 40 remaining Balkan lynx in the country!

Greece – Cyprus

νιάου! (Niau!)

Everyone that visits Greece ends up with a cat photo sooner or later! Greek cats are everywhere. There is even a breed, the Aegean cat, which is originating from the Cycladic Islands and is considered a natural cat, developed without human interference.



No one quite knows the Turkish Van’s true origins. According to legend, their ancestors sailed aboard Noah’s Ark. Once the boat reached Mount Ararat the cats hopped off and swam for dry land. God blessed them, and his divine touch caused their white coats…

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