Naughty Kitty Cat

My students have known that I love cats for years. At the beginning of the year during the “get to know each other” phase of school, I always show them pictures and videos of my cats. My longhaired tabby, Waffle, is always the favorite and the kids scream out that he’s so fat and fluffy, which makes this a super fun and relatable song. Naughty Kitty Cat is a perfect song for kids because they love animals and the chasing game that inevitably will be asked for year round.

My cats, Waffle (left) and Scribbles (right)

Suggested Grade Levels: Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade


Naughty Kitty Cat is an American adaptation of a Hungarian children’s song. The only place I was able to find any mention of the potential song from which is was adapted was from Beth’s Notes. The song she has listed there is titled Ég a gyertya ég, which translates to “burn the candle, burn.” You can find the link to her post here for more information.

I will return to the history of Naught Kitty Cat if and when I discover anymore information.


Jill Trinka mentions in her book The Little Black Bull that she first encountered the song in 1975. Katalin Forrai, a pre-school teacher from Budapest, would sing the song Cirmos cica, jaj! with her students. This song traveled with various translations through Canada and the United States. See the lyrics and translation below:

Cirmos citza, jaj!Oh, tabby pussy cat!
Hova lett a vaj?What happened to the butter?
Ott látom a bajuzodon,I see it there on your whiskers
majd lesz neked jaj!What will become of you?
(You’d better watch out!)

Option 1: This game can easily be made into an adaptation of Duck, Duck, Goose. Children form a seated circle and sing while one “kitty cat” walks around and taps their peers on the head to a steady beat. At the end of the song, the person the “kitty cat” taps becomes a “grumpy cat owner” and they must chase and catch the cat before they get back to their spot.

Option 2: Children form a standing circle with linked hands. One “cat” is in the center while a “grumpy cat owner” is on the outside. Two “doors” on opposite sides of the circle will be chosen prior to starting the game. The “doors” will raise their hands to create an opening in the circle from which the “cat” can run in and out. The children in the circle will sing the song and once they are finished, the “cat” must leave the center of the circle through one “door” and run to the other “door” before the “grumpy cat owner” can catch them. I personally like to have the cat owner switch to being the cat and cycle the children through that way so they can all have a turn being the owner and the cat.

Classroom Applications:
–Good as an introduction to quarter rests
–Simple, elemental rhythms for practice
–Nice, stepwise melody
–Potential to add Orff instruments for melodic accompaniment

Example of Option 2 gameplay


–Pace, N. (2019, September 5). Naughty kitty cat [Video]. YouTube.

–Row, D. (2017, January 14). Naughty kitty cat – circle song. Make Moments Matter.

–Thompson, B. (n.d.). Ég a gyertya ég. Beth’s Notes.

–Trinka, J. (1996). The little black bull and other folk songs, singing games and play parties for kids of all ages. Folk Music Works.

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