Words expats should know: Stubentiger (it's more than a cat in German)

Words expats should know: Stubentiger (it's more than a cat in German)

Words expats should know: Stubentiger (it's more than a cat in German)

A cat is not a pet, it’s a lifestyle. You can never just have a cat. Chances are, you adore your fluffy four-legged friend. It’s this feeling you convey when you refer to your cat in German as a Stubentiger

Der Stubentiger: A German word for cat, with feeling

If you’re a cat lover, you should add this whimsical German word to your vocabulary immediately. Composed of the words, der Tiger (which, as you can probably guess, means tiger), and die Stube (living room), der Stubentiger is a fantastic nickname that Germans sometimes jokingly use to refer to their pets: it’s a living room tiger. 

And we’re not just talking about striped tabby cats, since all cats - love ‘em or hate ‘em - undeniably possess a certain kind of fearless aloofness that brings a certain grouchy big cat to mind. 

Der Stubentiger can also be used to affectionately refer to a man with a tough exterior who, as soon as he comes home from work, puts on his comfies and snuggles down on the sofa with a beer

What’s German for cat?

Of course, der Stubentiger isn’t the only word Germans have come up with to describe their beloved pets. Die Katze, as you probably learned in one of your first German lessons, is the most basic word used to describe a male or female cat (don’t let the feminine article confuse you!), while a Hauskatze is a house cat. 

Der Kater is the German word for a tomcat - a mature male cat - and also a way to describe a hangover… 

In other words, every Kater is a Katze (except the alcohol-induced kind), but not every Katze is a Kater. You might have a Hauskatze at home but not every cat is admired enough to be called a Stubentiger. Hope that’s clear!



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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