Cat killer

While I was once visiting a friend in Germany for coffee and cake, her cat jumped into my lap and curled itself into a ball and went to sleep. When we had finished eating my friend asked me if I would like to go for a walk. I responded by telling her yes, but that leider muss ich jetzt den Kater zerstören. She looked at me in alarm and then began laughing hysterically. Apparently I had informed her that I was going to destroy her cat. I should have used the verb stören which means 'to disturb', and not zerstören which means 'to destroy'. We're still laughing about it two years later.

Sent by: Deborah


Anonymous, Berlin 2010-10-13

Katze means a member of the species or a female of this species, Kater is always male, so you can/should only use Kater if you know that the animal is male.

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Suzanne 2007-10-27

That is the funniest story! Thanks so much for making me laugh till the tears ran down my face...I really needed that today!

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Susan 2006-11-01

Kater means 'male cat', Katze means 'cat' in general, male or female.

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TERRY 2006-09-01

"To have a tom-cat" can also mean "to have a hangover": Einen Kater haben.

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Laura 2006-07-26

I used to laugh when I read Katerpille, which literally means hangover pill, but made me think of 'caterpillar'!

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James 2006-06-12

I remember one year in Germany when my mum informed our relatives that while we were on holiday, our friend would feed the cat. When our relatives starting laughing, she realised she'd said our friend would eat the cat: die Katze futtern rather than die Katze füttern.

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Alan 2006-05-29

Kater is also the word for hangover.

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Tom Kater 2006-09-08

I find my name causes great hilarity anytime I visit Germany or Austria!

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Harry 2006-03-03

I've always known the German word for 'cat' to be Katze, not Kater. Can Kater be used instead of Katze?

Editor's note: Kater is 'tom cat'.

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