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German Dog and Cat Names
Part 2: Katzen und Katzenkrimis

Francis: The German Cat Detective

Katze
Wie heißt die Katze?

I don't know why it never caught on in the English-speaking world, but the 1989 novel Felidae by Akif Pirinçci was a bestseller in Germany. The protagonist of this Katzenkrimi is a European shorthair cat named Francis. In the novel, written from a cat's perspective, Francis tries to solve a mysterious series of feline murders in his neighborhood. Following the success of Felidae, the Turkish-born author (who came to Germany at the age of nine and now lives in Bonn) wrote two more cat detective stories to create a Felidae trilogy. Pirinçci's second cat mystery was titled Francis, Felidae II (1993) and the third, Cave Canem (Latin for "beware the dog"), was published in 1999. Although Felidae was translated into at least 17 languages, including English, the English edition is no longer in print. As far as I know, the 1994 animated film version of Felidae (which featured the voice of the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer) never even made it into US movie theaters or onto video.

Note: If you're interested in Krimis in general, also see our article on Deutsche Krimis und andere Bücher.

Francis Akif Pirinçci's first feline mystery
novel was published in 1989.

In the first novel the following cat names appear (some of which are murder victims): Sascha, Blaubart ("bluebeard"), Deep Purple, Kong, Herrmann, Felicitas, Pascal, Atlas, TomTom, Agathe, Jesaja and Joker. Out of these dozen "German" names for cats only one is obviously German (Blaubart). Agathe and Felicitas (Felizitas) were once fairly common feminine names in German, but no longer today. Herrmann is the more Germanic spelling of Herman. Jesaja is a form of the biblical Isaiah. Sascha is a Russian name (m. or f.) related to Alexander. The rest, including the French Pascal, are self-explanatory.

Another earlier German novel involving a story told by a cat is E.T.A. Hoffmann's two-volume Lebensansichten des Katers Murr (1819-20), half of which is narrated in the first-person by a tomcat named Murr who can not only read and write, but can also appreciate music and literature. Among other things, Murr the cat becomes friends with a Pudel named Ponto and learns Pudelisch, the dog's language. (Did you know that poodles are German, not French?) The complex and interwoven plot of Hoffmann's novel, in which he uses the canine and feline world to examine and dissect human society, also includes more than one murder of a cat, including that of Murr's good friend Muzius. Murr also falls helplessly in love with the beautiful Miesmies.

Just as with dogs, there are some typical, clichéd names for cats. The German equivalent of "kitty" is Mieze or Miezekatze (pussycat). Muschi is a very common cat name, but since it carries all the same meanings as "pussy" in English, you need to be careful about throwing it into a German conversation! (But there's nothing wrong with the word as a name for your cat.)

One top-10 list of cat names in German ranked the following feline appellations: Felix, Minka, Moritz, Charly, Tiger (tee-gher), Max, Susi, Lisa, Blacky and Muschi, in that order. Some lists also include names for couples or pairs (Pärchen), such as Max und Moritz (from the Wilhelm Busch stories), Bonnie und Clyde or Antonius und Kleopatra.

Please browse through our list of names for pets. I hope you'll find a German or Germanic name you like for your pet!

Also see our German Dog Commands page.


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