Chinese cats

女奴

Has anyone ever heard this expression? What does it have to do with felines?

Literally it means a female slave, and it’s obviously not the usual word for a cat. But this Wiktionary entry lists “cat” as an archaic meaning. That’s all I know, but I can ask a couple of well educated native speakers later today. Any context?

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/女奴

I don’t really have any useful context — apparently Zhang Mi used this expression. I will try to find a concrete quote.

狸奴 (raccoon slave??) is also supposed to have something to do with cats. Not sure whether these are fanciful poetic kennings, or familiar expressions, or what, but hopefully educated Chinese speakers would.

I am still having trouble finding source material. However, as for the “fox slave”, I was able to find this poem which mentions it:

Not Chinese but Japanese.
As another poster mentioned, its meaning is “female serf” but it’s also an archaic Chinese term for “cat”. I do not have a source on how it came to be, but the general thought is:

  1. The association between femininity and felinity goes back to ancient times.
  2. Cats were seen as inferior animals compared to dogs who were more intelligent and served more useful purposes. (Much like in Western civilization.)