Living with a “Night Cat” (Elementary)

Early in the morning, Li Hua asks her boyfriend Jerry to go shopping for earplugs and an eye mask. Jerry is a little bit confused as to why she needs them. In his opinion, the campus is very quiet at night comparing with the noisy downtown. Amy complains that things are not as Jerry thinks.

Wǒ měitiān dōu xiūxi bùhǎo.
Li Hua:我     每天    都  休息  不好。
I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep.

Wèi shénme?
Jerry:为     什么?
Why not?

Yīnwèi wǒmen sùshè yǒu yíge yèmāozi.
Li Hua:因为    我们     宿舍   有   一个 夜猫子。
Because there’s a“night cat” in my dormitory.

Yèmāozi shì shénme māo?
Jerry:夜猫子    是    什么    猫?
What is a “night cat”?

Yèmāozi búshì māo.
Li Hua:夜猫子    不是    猫。
What is a “night cat”?

A “night cat” is not a cat. Does this statement make sense? It may not seem to, but if you look at the following explanation carefully, you will find that it makes more sense than you thought.

夜猫子(yèmāozi) is an informal Chinese word for owl. 夜(yè) means night, 猫(māo) is cat, and 子(zi) is the suffix. What’s more, an owl has a formal Chinese name called 猫头鹰(māo tóu yīng) in which头(tóu) is head and 鹰(yīng) is hawk. In ancient China, people thought an owl’s head looked very similar to a cat’s; therefore, they called an owl a “night cat(夜猫子yèmāozi)”. As you can see, in Chinese, a “night cat” is not a cat.

In modern Chinese, the word 夜猫子(yèmāozi) is not only referred as an owl; but also, more frequently, referred as people who stay up late or remain active during the night according to owls’ function of working at night. It is similar with the English expression —a “night owl”. Li Hua calls her roommate a 夜猫子(yèmāozi) because her roommate reads books, plays computer games, surfs on the internet, listens to music, and washes clothes…all while the rest of the campus is snoring. No wonder Li Hua can’t get a good night’s sleep.


Xiǎomíng shì yíge yèmāozi.
1. 小明         是  一个夜猫子
Xiaoming is a night owl.

Wǒ bùxiǎng zuò yèmāozi.
2. 我    不想      做夜猫子
I do not want to be a night owl.

Nowadays, the nightlife has gotten more wonderful and exciting, and more people enjoy staying up late, especially in big cities. However, being a 夜猫子(yèmāozi) isn’t very good for one’s health. It may have a direct impact on your skin making it look worn and lacking of radiant glow. So, tell those夜猫子(yèmāozi) around you to get to bed for the sake of their well-being.


1.Which one of the following animals is called a 夜猫子(yèmāozi)?___

A. A night cat

B. An owl

C. A cat

2.Why do people use 夜猫子(yèmāozi) to refer those who stay up late?

A. Because both 夜猫子(yèmāozi) and those who stay up late are active at night.

B. Because 夜猫子(yèmāozi) and those who stay up late look the same in appearance.

C. Because people like 夜猫子(yèmāozi).

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