Literally, 猫を被る (ねこをかぶる, nekowokaburu) means “wear a cat”. It figuratively indicates the act of putting up a façade and pretending to be nicer than usual. For instance, when a chatty person meets someone for the first time, he/she may 猫を被る (hide oneself) and pretend to be reserved. People also 猫を被る (hide themselves) when they’re dating with someone, and show their true colours once they’re in a relationship. This word is also used to describe a girl who acts cute or coy around guys.
猫を被る consists of the two words “猫” (neko) and “被る” (kaburu) with a particle “を” (wo) between them. The first word means “cat“, and it is also written as either hiragana “ねこ” or katakana “ネコ“. The second word means “wear” or “put on“. Therefore, 猫を被る literally means “wear a cat”, and it figuratively denotes someone who hides who they really are. The rationale behind the expression is that a cat appears to be very cute, but in fact, can be very aggressive.
Usually I am very talkative but today I was quite, 猫を被って (hiding myself)
She is always talking a lot of sh*t, but when she is with her boyfriend, she 猫かぶっている (pretends to be reserved)
Synonyms and Related Words
Synonyms: 良い子ぶる (pretend to be a good person; act obsequiously)
Synonyms in English: hide one’s true colours, hide oneself, put up a façade
Related words and phrases: 猫 (cat), 被る (wear, put on)