Trope that applies to all the kittens
- Big Damn Heroes/ Kid Hero: They along with Fu-Fu shared this in "Cat Burglar".
- Butt-Monkey: They have to fall into this depending on the episode.
- Cats Are Snarky: Dongwa has his snarky moments. Occasionally Sagwa can fall victim to this, too.
- Chromatic Arrangement: Their family collars, respectively. Sagwa is red/yellow, Dongwa is purple, and Sheegwa is pink.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: All of the Miao siblings, but especially Sagwa. This is a good thing.
- Divergent Character Evolution: Both Sheegwa and Dongwa had the same body types in the original book. They were given different models in the television series.
- Embarrassing First Name: They didn't like their actual name meanings in "The Name Game" after the alley cats teased them. But later appreciate their names after Nai-Nai told them their parents' story.
- Family Theme Naming: Their names respectively are "Melon head", "Watermelon", and "Winter Melon". Their names represent how their parents met.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: This happened in "Cat Burglar".Sagwa: That guy...Dongwa: ...was a..Sheegwa: ...burglar!
- Freudian Trio:
- Sagwa - Superego
- Sheegwa - Id
- Dongwa - Ego
- My God, What Have I Done?: Dongwa towards Haiyo in "Tough Guy Dongwa".
- Sibling Rivalry: They tend to be like this most of the time, "The Zodiac Zoo" and "Sister Act" being particular examples.
- Voiced by: Holly Gauthier-Frankel
The middle child of the Miao family and the main protagonist.
- Attention Whore:
- She was like this in "The Favorite".
- She's also briefly is this for a moment in "Princess Sheegwa", where she tries to get her parents and Dongwa, who are busy talking to Sheegwa, to look at a flower she's pretending to wear like it's something they must see.
- Big Damn Heroes: In "How Sagwa Got Her Colors". A truly wonderful accident, ironically enough.
- Brainy Brunette: Her dyed fur could make her this.
- Cats Are Superior: She states this in one of the "What About You?" segments.
- Cool Big Sis: Towards Sheegwa
- Facial Markings: After falling into the ink pot.
- Genki Girl: Is very adventurous.
- Good Samaritan: In "Sagwa's Good Deeds", she helped out Fam and his family since they didn't have too much food to eat.
- Hiccup Hijinks: This happened to her in "Tough Guy Dongwa".
- The Makeover: She got this, as shown in the first episode, as a result of falling face-first into a pot of ink. She is shown again with her original look in "Sagwa's Lucky Bat".
- Nice Girl
- Pink Means Feminine: Her "special" collar is fusia.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Fu-Fu.
- The Resenter: Becomes this for a while in both "Princess Sheegwa" and "Too Close for Comfort".
- The Smart Girl: Most of the time, but she has her moments of foolishness.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She's not stereotypically girly, and her best friend is male; however, she's far from a complete tomboy. For example she enjoys pretending to have a tea party with Sheegwa while wearing a dress, her special occasion collar is fusia, and she admits she really wanted to be a princess in one episode.
- Trademark Favorite Food: According to one of the "What About You?" segments on the PBS airings, her favorite food is mooncakes.
- Tuckerization: Named and based after Amy Tan's former cat.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Sort of. She is supposedly 6, yet at times, she can be quite resourceful, and is much wiser than her older brother Dongwa. However, like anyone her age, she does plenty of foolish things.
- Voiced by: Jesse Vinet
The youngest kitten of the Miao family.
- Annoying Younger Sibling:She tends to be like this sometimes towards both Sagwa and Dongwa. Unlike some examples, however, she still manages to be quite likable. If anything, Dongwa is often more annoying.
- Berserk Button: She doesn't take it kindly if you call her tiny or baby.
- Blush Sticker: She's the only family member with pink blushes.
- Break the Cutie: In "Precious Gift".
- Cute Kitten
- Cheerful Child: As the youngest character on the show, she is often the most cheerful and adorable.
- Depending on the Artist:
- She is mostly seen with her right ear folded, but it might often switch in other episodes. Sometimes the folded ear might switch around in the same episode.
- Also, her blushes often show up or not in certain episodes.
- Gender Flip: Originally a boy in the book.
- The Ingenue
- Multiple-Choice Past: Was she born before, after, or around the time Sagwa got her colors? The writers can't seem to decide.
- Nice Girl
- Parody Sue: Played for Laughs in "Sick Day", when both Dongwa and Sagwa decided to tell a story on Sheegwa as the main hero, complete with butterfly wings.
- Pink Means Feminine
- Your Makeup Is Running: This is mostly seen when she starts crying (although she doesn't cry much over the course of the series' 40 episodes). In fact one of the downloadable coloring pages you print from the Sagwa site on the PBS Kids website. She is seen crying with most of her eye liner running down her face.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She often acts fairly gender-neutral and doesn't mind getting dirty while playing. In fact, in the episode where she becomes a princess, she doesn't enjoy as she has to stay clean and not go anywhere. However, her default attire is a pink collar, and like Sagwa, she enjoys pretending to have tea parties while wearing dresses.
- The Worsening Curse Mark: In "Princess Sheegwa", she had a birthmark that claimed that she's a princess, resulting in the servants pampering her. While at first she likes the extra attention, she grows to hate it when it results in her being separated from her family. Then after a bath it turned out that mark was just a smudge of dirt.
- Voiced by: Oliver Grainger
The eldest kitten of the Miao family.
- Cool Big Bro: Tends to zigzag this with being a jerk towards his sisters, though he still cares for them.
- The Eeyore: Briefly became like this when he heard Siao-Po was only staying for a month.
- Extreme Omnivore: He ate some sticks in "Tough Guy Dongwa". Though this was mostly to hide the fact that he was collecting them to build a nest for Haiyo.
- Hidden Depths: "Festival of the Lanterns" reveals he's very good at old-style calligraphy, despite the fact that he never cares for it.
- Humble Pie: Even though he's the competitive type, he doesn't let this over head too much.
- Hypocritical Humor: In the first episode, he complains how Sheegwa ask so many questions. In the beginning of Mama's story, we see Dongwa asking questions about the Magistrate's rules.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: His desire to be seen as a tough guy is a recurring source of conflict.
- Innocently Insensitive: When he first meets Uncle Miao, he becomes bored of the latter's story on their family history and thoughtlessly says he hates history; he is immediately ordered to apologize. On the upside, he gets better later in the episode.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Despite being a jerkass towards his siblings, Dongwa still cares for them.
- He was also like this towards Haiyo.
- Not My Lucky Day: Happened to him in "My Fair Kitty" after his collar was borrowed by Mung and falling in mud.
- Not So Different: Dongwa complains about Sheegwa that she asks questions, yet he was like that when he was younger.
- Only Sane Man: He was like this in "Sagwa, Fu-Fu and the Whistling Pigeon" when Sagwa and Fu-Fu were fighting.
- The Prankster
- Purple Is Powerful: His purple collar, either because he's a palace cat, or because he's the more Hot-Blooded of the three.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: the Manly Man towards Fu-Fu's Sensitive Guy
- Small Name, Big Ego: He has his moments of this, even once telling Sagwa that he was Baba's favorite kitten.
- Spiky Fur: The fur on top of his head.
- Twin Switch: Although not identical, he switched places with Mung (who had natural facial markings eerily similar to Dongwa's) so that he can impress his cousin Chung-Nee.
- Rags to Riches: Unlike Baba, she was actually a cat of a gardener when she was a kitten. She became part of the palace after they married.
- Good Parents: Despite having a tendency to be strict, she is very wise, kind and caring.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red towards Baba's blue.
- Abusive Parents: It's implied his childhood may have been like this.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He was known as "Bu-Gu" by Angwan.
- Good Parents: Despite having a tendency to be strict, he is very wise, kind and caring.
- Hat of Authority
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: He has a notoriously bad singing voice; When writing a song to sing to Mama on her birthday, he wisely elects to have another cat with a much more accomplished voice sing it on his behalf.
- Like Father, Like Son: He was quite like both Sagwa and Dongwa when he was a kitten.
- Papa Wolf: He certainly has this moments of this, such as his willingness to abandon his lavish life in the palace to prevent his children from being given away to an Italian dignitary.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue towards Mama's red.
Chang-Foo Soon (The Foolish Magistrate)Ruler of his own village.
- Adaptation Personality Change: In the original book, he was ruthless and just made the rules because he wanted everyone to respect him. In the cartoon, he's slightly more of a bumbler as he makes the rules due to his wife. Though he is stern at times.
- Bumbling Dad
- Fan Disservice: Any time he appears in his underwear. As it is an undergown, it's a downplayed example, however.
- Fat Idiot
- Hat of Authority
- Henpecked Husband: As noted below, his wife clearly calls the shots in this household.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Becomes this after his change of heart.
- Manly Tears: Had this towards the end of the first episode, and also twice in the first half of the forth episode.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Averted in the first episode, where we find out he often enforced unfair laws at the behest of his wife so he could raise taxes; Ultimately subverted when an unlikely incident caused by Sagwa led to a change of heart in him. Nowadays he rules the village with a gentle and fair hand.
- The Tooth Hurts: This happened to him in "The Foolish Magistrate's Aching Tooth".
- Took a Level in Kindness: In the first episode, he was revealed to have once been an uncaring and indifferent individual who at the constant urging of Tai-Tai enforced unreasonable rules simply so she could exploit them for fines. Due to Sagwa's accidental intervention however, the villagers think he's had a change of heart when his law to ban singing is instead rewritten so that it never has to end, and when they sing praises to him he is so moved that he does away with all the restrictive laws he had once passed.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Noodles, of course.
Tai-TaiThe generally nasty wife of the Magistrate.
- Beautiful All Along: She's a lot nicer looking with her hair down.
- Covered in Mud: Goes through this twice, in the first half of episode four and the second half of episode twenty-four.
- Green Aesop: Learned this once.
- Heel Realization: A few times. The episode with Tung is probably the most notable.
- Hidden Depths: Her talent for art, revealed in "Ciao, Meow".
- It's All About Me: Usually.
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Jerkass: Most of the time.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: From time to time.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- In "The Birds, the Bees and the Silkworms", she orders her husband to banish the creatures that have been thought as pests. However, she learns that they're very important after the banquet hadn't turned out great.
- Subverted in "Tung The Sining Cricket", in which her reaction to seeing her husband (who has almost never cried in front of her) mourning the death of his cricket—-which she "caused"—-is to say, "I wonder if I did the right thing." She eventually does realize what she did and tries to fix it, but still gets away with it.
- Pet The Cat: To Sagwa in "Sagwa's Swan Song", and to Sheegwa in "Precious Gift".
- Rich Bitch
- True Blue Femininity: She's mostly seen wearing this color as her normal wardrobe.
- Vocal Evolution: In "Precious Gift", the one episode in which she isn't a jerk at all, her voice is notably a lot lower and less snobbish sounding.
The Three DaughtersThe children of the Magistrate and Tai-Tai. Their names are Ba-Do, Luk-Do and Huang-Do, although since they aren't referred to by name much, can also be labeled by the colors they wear.
- Bee Afraid: Happened to the pink daughter once.
- Breakout Character: Starting with "Time For Everything", Ba-Do began to get more individual focus, even getting an episode of her own.
- Color-Coded Characters: Ba-Do wears pink, Luk-Do wears yellow, and Huang-Do wears blue. In their first few appearances, this was their only defining trait, until Ba-Do became something of a Breakout Character.
- Nice Girl: Ba-Do is definitely this.
- Out of Focus: The yellow and blue daughters, Luk-Do and Huang-Do respectively. The fact that there's an episode titled "Ba-Do and the Lantern Festival" shows how much focus their sister, by comparison, has gotten.
- Cool Old Guy: Often full of wisdom and is both kind and nurturing to the cats, and is extremely loyal to the Magistrate.
- Fat and Skinny: The Fat to Shi-Yi's Skinny.
- Manly Tears: At the end of "Sick Day".
- No Name Given
A nerdy man who reads the Magistrate's rules. Known generally as "the reader".
- Fat and Skinny: The Skinny to Cook's Fat.
- Hidden Depths: "Three Graces" reveals he is good at poetry.
- Known Only by Their Nickname
A teacher who joins the staff in the last episodes.
- Implied Love Interest: To the reader.
Fu-FuA clumsy bat who is friends with Sagwa and her siblings. He met Sagwa when she got stuck in a ash pot, and became friends ever since.
- Bat Out of Hell: Averted, as he's one of the nicest bats. In fact, bats are considered lucky in China.
- Big Damn Heroes: He's like this a few times, like when he rescued Sagwa or when he and his bat squadron helped captured the cat burglar stealing the palace's treasures. Played for Laughs in "Sick Day".
- Blind Without 'Em: He wears a pair of glasses that help him see better, though due to his clumsiness they're a little cracked.
- Butt-Monkey: Poor guy seems to crash into something in almost every episode. Thankfully he never appears very hurt.
- Catchphrase: "Jai-jen, my friend!"
- Cool Shades: He wears these in "Cool Fu-Fu" after joining the gangster bat club.
- Cute Little Fangs: Well, he is a bat, after all.
- A Day in the Limelight: "Sagwa's Lucky Bat", "Cool Fu-Fu", "Luck Be a Bat" and "Fu-Fu's Full Moon Flight".
- Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments.
- Don't Call Me "Sir": He doesn't being called that, since he's not old (although he appears to be older than the kittens).
- Drop-In Character
- The Friend Nobody Likes: He is implied more than once to be of this position in his own cave, and as such prefers the company of his cat friends.
- Interspecies Friendship: Friends with the Miao kittens, especially with Sagwa.
- Iron Butt Monkey: He always manages to keep going no matter what he bumps into.
- Ironic Name: He is very clumsy, despite the fact his name means "Lucky Bat". He even lampshades this in one episode.
- Jerkass Ball: Had this in "Sagwa, Fu-fu and the Whistling Pigeon".
- The Klutz: Infamously so.
- Nice Guy
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Sensitive Guy towards Dongwa's Manly Man; this is a case where this is actually a positive thing.
- The Smart Guy
- The Sleepless: Despite being a bat (they usually sleep during the day), he's seen wide awake during broad daylight. It is informed in some episodes thus that he sleeps during night.
The Alley CatsA group of rather obnoxious bully cats who live in the streets and alley ways of the village. They are sometimes both friends and bullies towards the Miao kittens depending on the episode. Seeing as there are many alley cats, there have been a few one-offs and they will be listed in their own section.
- Absentee Actor: Of the main four, usually one will be absent.
- Ambiguously Gay: Lik-Lik
- The Atoner: Jet-Jet proves to be one after he and his friends accidentally trash the home of the mice, as he comes to their aid later when they find themselves in danger.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Jet-Jet
- Brooklyn Rage: Wing-Wing... even though the show is set in China, circa 1890s.
- Cats Are Mean: Most of the time they are very much so. To the point that they ridicule Sagwa for her markings despite knowing the reason she has them! Jet-Jet at least gets a Pet the Dog moment late in the series, however.
- Early Installment Character Design Difference:: Hun-Hun's current design differs to what she had from the first episode
- Some early episodes show Lik-Lik with a mustache. This was eventually abandoned.
- Expies: They're pretty much the cat equivalent of Roger and his gang or the Tough Customers. Although Jet Jet is voiced by Lawson from Recess.
- Gang of Bullies
- Jerkasses: A lot of the time. Hun-Hun is an aversion, however.
- Karma Houdini: They rarely suffer any consequences.
- Local Hangout: Mostly at the alleys by the palace.
- Nice Girl: Hun-Hun is mostly this.
- No Name Given/Living Prop: Any background alley cats—-and there are quite a lot—-aren't given any names.
- Pet the Dog: Jet-Jet in "Shei-Hu's Secret".
- Tomboy: Hun-Hun is a fairly straightforward example.
- With Friends Like These...: As stated, they tend to be both friends and bullies towards the Miao kittens, at least Depending on the Writer.
The Sleeve DogsA trio of dogs that Tai-Tai owns and which live in her sleeves. Their names are Ping, Pang, and Pong and they reside in the palace. They often antagonize the kittens.
- Dogs Are Dumb
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: They are quite affectionate to their owner
- Evil Counterpart: To the Miao kittens.
- Fat Idiot: They aren't very bright and quite chubby.
- For the Evulz: Their harassment of Cha-Siu, the newly-adopted cousin of the Miaos who also happens to be a dog, pretty much boils down to this.
- Hate Sink: They can be quite unpleasant, but their aforementioned and unprovoked harassment of Cha-Siu for being a dog who happened to be adopted by cats may cement them as this for many.
- Terrible Trio
- Theme Twin Naming: Their names just have a different vowel on "P*ng" (Ping, Pong, and Pang, according to one book). As a result, it's pretty tricky to tell which one is which, particularly since they're rarely referred to by name and there's hardly even any information online clarifying who is who!
- Two Guys and a Girl: Presumably.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Its exceptionally rare, but they do have a few such moments of this with the Miao children.
The MiceSeveral mice whom the kittens are friends with. The one who appears the most is named Shei-Hu.
- A Day in the Limelight: Shei-Hu gets this in an episode towards the end of the series.
- Mouse World: What they live in a mouse city.
OogwayAn kindly old tortoise who teaches Sagwa to slow down and appreciate things in life.
The Three Daughters' tutor.
- Purple Is Powerful: She wears purple, and is a teacher.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Despite becoming a recurring character, she gets two appearances before the series ends.
FamAn alley cat Sagwa befriended in "Sagwa's Good Deed".
Tung the Singing CricketThe Magistrate's pet cricket.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: No, seriously, he cannot sing.
- Large Ham: "Are you trying to give me a heart attack? I have my singing career to think about!"
- Nice Guy
- Singing Voice Dissonance: While his speaking voice is high, his singing voice is absolutely shrill.
- What Happened to the Mouse?
Siao-PoA visiting cat who became good friends with Dongwa after his family moved in the village.
He only appeared in "The Birds, the Bees and the Silkworms".
Ping-WingA whistling pigeon who was given as a gift from the emperor to the Magistrate. She became friends with both Sagwa and Fu-Fu, but they both wanted to do different things with her.
- Leitmotif: She creates one with the flute on her tail.
- Take a Third Option: After both Sagwa and Fu-Fu settle their differences, Ping-Wing suggested something they can all do together for the day. They later did Tai-chi with Dongwa.
- Vocal Dissonance: Her girlish voice clashes with her appearance and personality.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: She's never even mentioned afterwards. What's even stranger is a bird is shown living in the palace and delivering a message in a later episode, which would have been easy to simply have as Ping-Wing.
An alley cat who is friends with Dongwa. He told her cousin Chung-Nee that he was a palace cat because he wanted to be as perfect as her. So he switched places with Dongwa. He only appeares in "My Fair Kitty".
An alleycat bully Dongwa "befriended" in "Dongwa's Best Friend".
- The Bully
- Ungrateful Bastard
- With Friends Like These...: Even moreso than the other alleycats.
Tai-Tai's niece who gets married in "Wedding Day Mess". Tai-Tai considers her like one of her own daughters.
Ming-YaoAn ancestor of the Miaos who can draw things that can come to life.
The Beijing Cats
- Perpetual Frowners: Until Sagwa trades places with them, due to how they're mistreated.
A Maccaw type of bird who appears in "The Birds, The Bees, and The Silkworms".
- Feather Fingers: He/she uses his/her feathers to shut out the noise of Tai-Tai's shouting.
- Remember the New Guy?
- The Voiceless: He/she never interacts with any of the animal characters.