Cat and Dog Names In Turkey

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No matter where you go in Turkey, you will possibly see little friends who wander around all by themselves: cats and dogs. And don’t think that they don’t have names either. Shall we take a look at some of the cat and dog names in Turkey?

In Turkey, cats and dogs live on the gardens and streets as much as they live as pets and companions in homes. The cat and dog names of pets can of course change depending on the family. Let’s give some examples of the generally used cat names. If the cat is white as snow we can name it Pamuk*, if it has black, shiny eyes Zeytin*, if it is grey Duman*… As fort he dogs; if their hair is orangish Bal*, if it is black Karakız*, sometimes Fındık* and if they are a little chubby we can name them Tosun*.

A Cat Guard In Front Of The Butcher

To see a cat welcoming the guests like a guard in front of the shops is a usual sight for those living there.  It is also possible to see dogs sunbathing on the ”welcome” rug under the afternoon sun. The shipowners come to realize that these cat and dog guests are permanent and start to feed them regularly.

“ If we ran out of Pamuk’s food, let’s  give her some of the chicken’s liver dish.”

Even though they are street animals, these friends are given names after a while. These names can be adjectives that describe the appearance or prominent behaviors of the animal. Also, it is still possible to see dogs in the garden of the houses in the villages because of their territory guarding characteristic.

“Kitty kitty!  Have you seen Minnoş* today?”

Some of the most common cat names are Boncuk*, Minnoş and Pamuk. Sometimes we give cats special names like Loren and Hero because of personal reasons. And sometimes a saying in Turkish fits like a glove to the way a cat looks and the cat is named after that: the name Fincan* for a cat who has big eyes like a cup. For those who jump around with their purity and playfulness, the name Bambi is great!

The Protector of Our Home: Karabaş!

In Turkey, houses with gardens and detached houses have a similar feature, especially in rural settings: a dog that became the protector of that house. For instance in villages, since the dog knows the household, it starts to bark when a stranger comes close to the garden gate. If the guest gets scared, the problem can be solved with the house owner explaining the situation to the protector.

“Karabaş*! She is a guest, not a stranger!”

Similar situations can be seen not only in houses but also in the streets. Because dogs are territorial, if they come across with an unknown scent or someone looking threatening, they get aggressive. This is why you may see the same dogs on some streets all the time. Because now that street becomes his “home” and the dog is the “protector” of that home. Sometimes these protectors can be a little chubby. Nonetheless, they do their duties.

Animal Rights on the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey

Animal rights are protected on the constitution of the Republic of Turkey under the law numbered 5199. ıf we give examples form article 14:

Current law article 14: – The prohibitions about animals are as follow:

  1. Intended bad behavior towards animals, acting cruelly and mercilessly, beating them, leaving them without food and water, exposing them to extreme cold or heat, neglecting their care, causing them physical or psychological pain.
  2. Pushing animals to actions clearly out of their power.
  3. Selling pets by people who don’t have animal care education.
  4. Selling pets to people who are under 16.
  5. Performing a medical intervention on animals until it is clear that they decease certainly.

When we name cats and dogs, in a way, our interest and relationship with them grow. Like every living creature, cats and dogs passing by our apartment doors also have the right to live, to shelter and to live a happy life. And they have this right up to the end! You may come eye to eye with a cat on the Street around here. If you’re lucky, it comes closer to you after a while and goes around your knees. And then suddenly jump on to your lap! If it meows, perhaps it is telling you it’s name, who knows?

“Hi, my name is Duman? What is yours?”

Animals Are Not Only on the Streets But Also In the Language!

Turkish has many idioms with animal names in them. Here are some of them:

Kedi gibi dört ayak üstüne düşmek”: (to fall on to your four legs like a cat) Have the luck of the Irish.

Kuş sütü ile beslemek”: (to feed someone with the bird milk) To cherish, to pamper

Bülbül gibi konuşmak (veya okumak)”: (to speak – or read- like a nightingale) 1. To speak or read fluently 2. To confess

*Pamuk means cotton in Turkish.

*Zeytin means olive in Turkish.

*Duman means smoke in Turkish.

*Bal means honey in Turkish.

*Karakız means black girl in Turkish.

*Fındık means hazelnut in Turkish.

*Tosun actually means bullock in Turkish. But it is also used to describe chubby animals.

*Minnoş means little darling in Turkish.

*Boncuk means bead in Turkish.

*Fincan means cup in Turkish.

*Karabaş means buckwheat in Turkish but it is also used to describe dogs.


CLICK here to read this post in Turkish

CLICK here to watch the documentary about the cats of İstanbul  

Source: Turkish Language Society (

Translated by: Esra Nur Elmas