In Italian, the diminutive suffixes -ino / -otto / -etto are often added to the end of animal names to denote their offspring. A good example of this is our word of the day, gattino (masculine, plural: gattini), which means kitten. Gattino is simply the word gatto (cat) with -ino attached to the end.
When referring to a female kitten, you are free to change the ending to -ina, the feminine form of -ino.
Ma che bella gattina! Possiamo adottarla?
What a beautiful kitten! Can we adopt her?
An alternative translation for kitten is micino which comes from the word micio, also meaning cat.
Important: Because -ino means small, you can also use it to describe animals of a small size. It may also be used for adult animals as a term of affection. For example, we often call our adult cat gattina when she does something cute.
Below are a few other examples of baby animals that take the –ino / -otto / -etto suffixes:
- cagnolino = puppy, small dog (comes from cane = dog)
- leoncino = lion cub (comes from leone = lion)
- maialino = piglet (comes from maiale = pig)
- tigrotto = tiger cub (comes from tigre = tiger)
- lupetto = wolf cub (comes from lupo = wolf)
- elefantino = baby elephant (comes from elefante = elephant)
Note that you can also use the word cucciolo, meaning cub, to talk about many different kinds of baby animals including cats, dogs, bears, and wolves, just to name a few.
Tu sai come prenderti cura di un cucciolo di gatto?
Do you know how to take care of a kitten?