In tatoeba I found this sentence, that I am confused about how to express gender of animals.

The sentence is the following:

=My cat is such a baby, she follows me around wherever I go.

The gender of the cat is female. But I did not find it in the sentence.

Thank you!

  • This sentence doesn't mention the sex of the animal. It's like if I said in English, "My spoiled cat follows me around everywhere I go." Did you do any research on how to specify the gender of animals in Japanese, and if so, what did you find?
    – mamster
    Feb 21, 2018 at 3:05
  • @mamster I found this link: joyokanji.com/thematic-explorations/gendered-kanji, which also gives a good explanation about how to refer to gender of animals. But actually I was more confused about why in the above translation, the gender was female
    – Lua
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


So the answer to the question in your title is:

With 雄 and 雌

Which are the words used in Japanese to express the gender of animals.

However, I think the real question here is:

Why is there information in the resultant translation that does not appear to be in the original sentence?

First of all, let me confirm that nowhere in the original Japanese sentence does it specify that the cat is female. Unfortunately, this problem (where one language has more information than the other) is fairly common on a lot of translation sites that give individual sentences. Realistically, I think this happens for one of two reasons:

  1. Because adding extra information makes it more natural in the output language. In the case of your example sentence, the translator may have simply decided that because no one refers to their cat as "it" in English, they should arbitrarily assign it a gender. Translating from JP -> ENG without sufficient context also often results in guessing about plurals.
  2. The sentence was translated as part of a larger body of text which contained the extra information in a nearby sentence, but that information moved around when translation happened. Consider something like:


    Which is roughly

    My cat is such a baby, he follows me around wherever I go. (He does this) even though he's male.

    Any half decent translator is going to put a "he" in the first sentence, despite the fact that there is no information about gender in the original Japanese until the second sentence. This is a slightly contrived example, but hopefully it clarifies one way this can happen when you only see one sentence at a time.

  • Thank you! also, can I use 'kanojo' and 'kare' to refer to an animal like a cat for example?
    – Lua
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:13
  • I don't think so. People would probably understand you, but I think it would come off as fairly unnatural.
    – Mindful
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:58

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