Il mio caro piccolo gatto è sparito da una settimana.

English Translation

My dear little cat has been missing for a week.

I imagine that using scomparso would give this a more final meaning.


Scomparso may also mean deceased, but in this sentence I wouldn’t interpret it that way.
Sparire is more colloquial, scomparso gives a more serious connotation, but they are generally synonims.

What is unnatural in this sentence is the translation of “little cat”: We don’t say “piccolo gatto” we say “gattino”.


I have a question concerning the diminutives in gerneral.
Your answer seems to imply that the use of diminutives is rather fixed.
But aren’t Italians allowed to be creative in this area?
I remember an incident in crowdy Cortona: An Italian lady was searching for the parents of a small, lost and crying tourist boy. She called him - mockingly (sandal wearing tourists :slightly_smiling_face:) but also tenderly - her “sandalino”. I always thought she made that up on the fly.


No, maybe I did not chose the best words to explain myself.

“Caro piccolo gatto” is the literal translation of “Dear little cat”. However, “little” in the English sentence is not to be interpreted too literally. If I wanted to emphasize the cat’s size, I would have used “small”, I think. So it is a term of endearing.

In Italian, the diminutive suffixes (as -ino/a, -etto/a -otto/a -uccio/a) are also used to convey affection or fondness. If you write “piccolo gatto” instead of gattino, you are moving the focus on the size or age of the cat, which I think is not what you want here.

Italian uses diminutives/augmentative suffixes a lot more and a lot more systematically than English. You can add them to almost any names, but sometimes not all suffixes are viable:

For example, you cannot say “canino” as you say “gattino” because “canino” already means dog-like or dog-related. So you have to resort to “cagnetto” or “cagnolino”.

Also, often, some word started out as a diminutive, and ended gaining a specific meaning, like “zucca” (pumpkin) → “zucchina” (well… zucchini?)