Italian expression of the day: 'Gattara'

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Italian expression of the day: 'Gattara'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It would be a cat-astrophe not to know this word.


Cat lovers, rejoice: there’s an Italian word out there especially for people (like me) who are feline obsessed.

The word gattara (hear it pronounced here) is used to describe a woman who feeds and pets cats whether they’re domestic or stray.

Translated into English this name would be ‘cat lady’ or, if you’re feeling vicious, ‘crazy cat lady’ just like the well-known character in The Simpsons.

The Italian term is not always used for women: you might equally call someone a ‘cat man’ - a gattaro, or gattari in plural form. Interestingly, the first part of this name for both genders means female cat (gatta).

Calling someone a gattaro/a doesn’t have to be negative. Cats in Rome for example have special status, and they can live wherever they choose under a 1991 law. You may have seen them on a visit to the Eternal City, lurking around Largo di Torre Argentina or the grounds of the Pyramid of Caius Cestius.


Here are a couple of examples of how the term is used:

Quando sarò più grande, voglio essere una gattara come mia nonna
When I’m older, I want to be a cat lady like my nan.

Era un gattaro. Preferiva i gatti ai cani.
He was a cat man. He preferred cats to dogs.

The Italian language has quite a few cat-related sayings: for example, quattro gatti, or 'four cats', will sound like great company to gattari. But if they show up in Italian, it means no one else has

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