Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat

Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat

Title screen
Created by Amy Tan
Voices of Holly Gauthier-Frankel
Rick Jones
Oliver Grainger
Jesse Vinet
Ellen David
Arthur Holden
Sonja Ball
Neil Shee
Country of origin Canada
United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 40 (list of episodes)
Running time 27 minutes
Production company(s) CinéGroupe
Sesame Workshop
Original network TVOntario, Société Radio-Canada (Canada)
PBS Kids (USA)
Original release September 3, 2001 (2001-09-03) – October 5, 2002 (2002-10-05)

Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat is an educational Chinese and Canadian-American animated television series based on a 1994 novel by Amy Tan which aired on PBS Kids, produced by Canadian animation studio CinéGroupe and Sesame Street creator Sesame Workshop. In the series, which is set c. 1840, during the Qing Dynasty, Sagwa has fun in her day-to-day life while learning and teaching valuable life lessons. The show is notable for its setting and messages about family obligations and loyalty. It was also a huge ratings success for PBS Kids. The series was developed and produced for television by executive producers George Daugherty and Michel Lemire, and producers David Ka Lik Wong and Leon G. Arcand.[1]

It aired for one season and 40 episodes, premiering on September 3, 2001 replacing Wishbone and was quietly cancelled in 2002, but aired as reruns on some PBS affiliates as late as September 2008.


Sagwa resides in the palace of a magistrate in China of pre-colonial Hong Kong (possibly during the Qing, as shown by the characters' clothes), part of a royal family of cats who have the ability to write with their tails. She and her siblings, along with various other cats and Fu-Fu the bat, partake in adventures that are usually accompanied by moral lessons, as is typical with most children's shows. However, one aspect that sets this show apart is its display of various aspects of Chinese culture, which helps promote awareness and understanding of other ethnicities.


Miao Family


Best Friends / Allies

Other characters

Many of the names of the characters derive from the Chinese language. Their spellings are romanizations (though not always Wade–Giles, but possibly dialects also), and differ from the standardized Pinyin system.

The name of the titular character, Sagwa, literally means "silly melon head". Although innocuous without context, this phrase is typically regarded by Chinese to be an insult, carrying connotations of incompetence, foolishness, and even mental retardation.


Additional voices were done by Terrence Scammell, Carrie Finlay, Jonathan Koensgen, Michel Perron, Peter Shinkoda, Linda Wang, Karen Lee, Kameron Louangxay, Kamiko Taka, Amy Chow, Michael O'Reilly, and John Stocker

Sonja Ball, Oliver Grainger, and Holly Gauthier-Frankel previously worked together on two other animated series: Arthur and Mona the Vampire.

List of episodes (2001-2002)

Episode # Title Air Date
1"How Sagwa Got Her Colors"September 3, 2001
After a day of playing and calligraphy, at bedtime Mama tells her kittens the story of how Sagwa got ink patches on her paws and face which in the process thwarted one of the magistrate's unfair laws, resulting in benefit for everyone.
2"The New Year's Clean-Up / Firefly Nights"September 4, 2001

The Magistrate is horrified to find the presence of rats in the palace. Sagwa finds a rat, who tricks her into repeatingly catching him and giving Sagwa false good impression, but she realizes he's a cheat and drives him out.

Dongwa feels discontented about his kittenhood and tries to act more grown up hoping to see the fireflies in the night sky. After many hard working tasks, Baba permits him to come and Dongwa is rewarded with a wonderful sight.
3"Royal Cats / Acrobat Cats"September 5, 2001

Uncle Miao pays his family a visit. The kittens go exploring a cave in a valley. Inside they find giant clay statues of warriors and their cats. This greatly interests Uncle Miao who discovers their ancestral origins.

Dongwa and Sheegwa inspired by Acrobatic Cats learn their moves making Sagwa feel left out. However Yeh-Yeh and Fu-Fu inspires Sagwa to find her real talent in calligraphy, art and acrobatics.
4"Tung, the Singing Cricket / Sagwa's Lucky Bat"September 6, 2001

Driven mad by the Magistrates' cacophonic cricket Tung, Tai-Tai tries to get rid of him. This makes the Magistrate ruthless. Tung returns and helps Tai-Tai to set things right.

Sagwa shares her newly discovered attic with Fu-Fu and Sagwa remembers how she first met Fu-Fu after he rescued her from an ash pot and Dongwa never believed in Sagwa's new found friend.
5"Cat Burglar / Sagwa's Good Deed"September 7, 2001

A Cat Burglar has done numerous thefts especially a ruby belonging to the Magistrate's ancestors. The kittens and Fu-Fu watch the palace and manage to capture the burglar.

Sagwa hears how hard it is for Fam and his family to get food, so she shares some of hers to Fam, but pays the price for always being late for dinner. The Miao kittens teach Fam how to fish and he finds Fu-Fu his lost glasses.
6"Harvest Festival Race / The Foolish Magistrate's New Robes"September 10, 2001

The Harvest Festival is taking place. Dongwa tries to ruin Sagwa's efforts to prepare for the annual race. Next day Dongwa cheats to win the race, but later confesses and does a fair rematch.

Two con artist tailors get to work making invisible robes for the Magistrate. Those who do not see, believe they are fools. Sagwa exposes the tailors' cheating and the Magistrate has the tailors sentenced to make his whole family new clothes.
7"Fur Cut / Magistrate Loses His Post"September 11, 2001

Sagwa gets herself messed with wet clay. The Cook gives her a bad fur cut. She tries to fool her siblings with a made up story. This causes Fu-Fu to make a mistake, so Sagwa admits the truth before things get out of hand.

The Magistrate receives a scroll from the Emperor requisitioning his title. Sagwa struggles and works with the sleeve dogs to catch a fish. It is revealed that the Magistrate received the wrong scroll and he maintains his position.
8"Tribal Cats / Sagwa's Swan Song"September 12, 2001

Some performers and their cats are coming to the village. After an adventure with Bei-Hu, Sagwa and the cats accept their differences. Meanwhile the Magistrate persuades Tai-Tai to allow the princesses to watch the performers.

Tai-Tai is bitterly disappointed with her wedding anniversary gifts but receives a special swan from the villagers. The Siamese kittens try to make their grandparents' anniversary special too. That night, Tai-Tai appreciates what she's got.
9"Cat and Mouse / Stinky Tofu"September 13, 2001

Yeh-Yeh receives a treat of 100-year-old tofu. The scent really disgusts Sagwa, but she doesn't know how to tell Yeh-Yeh without offending him. Then Sagwa goes on a mission with Yeh-Yeh to get some more old tofu.

The Magistrate's family spot the Miao's mouse friends and the alley cats think their games with the mice is a joke to catkind. After a talk with Fu-Fu, Sagwa is happy to resume playing games with the mice.
10"The Foolish Magistrate's Aching Tooth / Sheegwa and the Blizzard"September 14, 2001

Sagwa and Dongwa accompany the reader to find a crested porcupine quill to complete a remedy for the Magistrate's toothache. Sagwa thinks a porcupine is a monster, but she befriends one called Hau-Ju and gets a quill.

On a very wet day a generous toy peddler gives the kittens toys and warns them of a coming blizzard. Insulted by Sagwa, Sheegwa runs away. When the snow comes, Sagwa makes a frantic rescue attempt only to find she's perfectly safe.
11"By the Light of the Moon / Treasure Hunters"September 17, 2001

The Magistrate hires the British archaeologist Sir Richard sets off to find a treasure of poetry scrolls. Sagwa, Shei-Hu and Fu-Fu join the adventure getting into danger, but they find the treasure and a way out.

The moon festival is approaching but both the Magistrate's and Mama Miao's children are not participating in a family get together activity. When the moon cakes are prepared both families have a happy reunion in the moonlight.
12"Fraidy Cats / The Tortoise and the Cat"September 18, 2001

Sheegwa gets scared in the attic and downstairs overhears Yeh-Yeh telling a story about the ghost cat Gui-Miao. Sheegwa is convinced the tale is true, but the kittens see only Fu-Fu who was trying to shelter from the wind.

A tortoise tries to relax among Sagwa's play and excitement. He teaches Sagwa how to take the time to admire the beauty and wonders of the plants and animals in the palace garden. Sagwa then shows it all to the mice.
13"Alley Night Opera / Cats of a Different Class"September 19, 2001

Baba and Mama have a heated argument over 5 Dots and Singing. After they settle their quarrel, Wu-Sheng the visiting opera monkey dancer is lacking in helpers for his performance, so the kittens volunteer.

The Magistrates receives a visit from his cousin. Sagwa finds that the four visiting cats are unhappy with their cushy lifestyle. Sagwa grants the best moments they've gotten in their lives.
14"Sagwa, Fu-Fu and the Whistling Pigeon / Princess Sheegwa"September 20, 2001

The Magistrate receives from the Emperor a musical pigeon Ping-Wing. Fu-Fu and Sagwa compete for her attention. When Ping-Wing gets fed up with them, they make up and everyone does Tai-Chi together.

When Sheegwa comes to the pagoda, visitors think she's a Princess due to a star mark. Sagwa is jealous of Sheegwa's royal treatment, but then realises she may not see Sheegwa again. The star mark proves to be only a bit of dirt.
15"Sagwa Rules / Ciao, Meow!"September 21, 2001

An Italian ambassador comes to the city. To the Miaos' horror, the ambassador is willing to accept one of the cats to take back to Italy. Both the kittens and Tai-Tai execute a plan to make the ambassador change his mind.

Tired of their mother's stern rule dictating, the kittens play with the alley cats without any rules. They then realize that a lack of rules would only mean misery for others. After an accident, they head back to the safety of their mother.
16"Explorer's Club / Time for Everything"September 24, 2001

Dongwa takes part of the Alley Cats' club and Sagwa forms her own club. This gets the alley cats' interest. Both clubs work together during a dangerous mountain climb and form a new club.

Dongwa and Ba-Do spend time doing their favourite hobbies instead of their palace duties. They manage to get Baba and Tai-Tai's appreciations after showing great talents in their hobbies.
17"Comic Opera / Not-So-Purrfect Patient"September 25, 2001

Sagwa goes on a difficult journey to give to Zing-Ban a song to sing on Mama's birthday. With Fu-Fu's help, Zing-Ban gets the whole song.

Dongwa sprains his left foreleg and takes advantage of this to get all the attention. Sagwa and Fu-Fu witness that's he perfectly fine and Mama makes him do a long chore, but both Sagwa and Dongwa make up.
18"Panda-monium / Festival of Lanterns"September 26, 2001

The kittens are restricted from the palace rooms due to an important event, but they accidentally chase a baby panda called Ling-Ling inside. The kittens help Ling-Ling to get back to his home and family.

Mama and Baba make a tiger lantern for the Magistrate's lantern contest entry. In a tangle with the sleeve dogs, the kittens ruin it. They manage to crudely fix it and the contest judges are impressed with it.
19"...Snagged by a Thread / Master of Mistakes"September 27, 2001

Sagwa, Mama Miao, Baba Miao, The Magistrate and Tai-Tai go to visit Tai-Tai's snobbish aunt. While there, the cat Gunji is mean to Sagwa, until they both ruin an elegant pillow.

When the difficulties of learning a new skill cause The Magistrate's daughters to give up, he brings in a master of many skills with a unique teaching style.
20"Collar of Time / The Birds, the Bees, and the Silkworms"September 28, 2001

Sagwa is given by Nai-Nai an old collar which makes her a laughing stock and itches her neck. She buries it, but upon hearing it is an ancient family heirloom, Sagwa gets it back from the Sleeve Dogs who found it.

As a great banquet is fast approaching, Tai-Tai orders all birds, silkworms and bees to be driven out, which causes her problems at the banquet. After she fixes the problem, Dongwa finally bids farewell to his moving friend Siao-po.
21"Dongwa the Sailor / Invention by Mistake"February 12, 2002
The Magistrate, the Reader and Dongwa sail in a boat to Kowloon (Hong Kong) to get some pineapple cakes. Dongwa befriends a seawise mouse named Wong-Lo who teaches him how to sail a boat.
22"Cool Fu-Fu / A New Cook in the Kitchen"February 13, 2002
Fu-Fu joins the Bat Rebel Fliers squadron. The Rebel Fliers have Fu-Fu cause trouble in the village and he splits with his Siamese friends. Fu-Fu finally resigns from the squadron before he can steal from the Magistrate's plum tree.
23"Tough Guy Dongwa / The Competition"February 14, 2002
While trying to maintain his reputation with the alley cats, Dongwa helps a downed bird named Haiyo, but he accidentally hurts his feelings. Dongwa makes friends with both Haiyo and Hun-Hun.
24"Precious Gift / Lord of the Fleas"February 15, 2002

Sheegwa finds Tai-Tai's jade necklace, but thinks it is a toy and will not part with it as Sagwa tells it is not hers. The Alley cats swipe the necklace, but when Sheegwa gets it back it breaks. Still Tai-Tai is overjoyed to have it back.

During holiday on an island, the sleeve dogs, Sagwa, Sheegwa, Tai-Tai and the Magistrate explore the forest finding it wonderful and scary. However everyone gets along together back at the beach.
25"My Fair Kitty / The Favorite"February 18, 2002

Dongwa switches places with Mung to impress Mung's cousin Chung-Nee. Meanwhile, Tai-Tai tries hard to impress her visiting auntie. Tai-Tai and Mung eventually realise perfection isn't everything.

Dongwa is coming with Baba to fish and he believes he is Baba's favorite. They haven't caught a thing and Sagwa neglects her duty to have fun of her own. This postpones the festive boat race, but Baba forgives Sagwa.
26"Luck be a Bat / Tea for Two Monkeys"April 1, 2002

Fu-Fu is captured by Tai-Tai so he can be her good luck charm. Sagwa helps him escape. After much searching for Fu-Fu, Tai-Tai decides bats are meant to live free and welcomes their presence in the palace.

Two Tea-Picking monkeys, Wai and Ting-Ping are hired by the Magistrate to pick fine tea. Sagwa and Dongwa are envious of the attention they get and sabotage the monkeys' harvest, but put things right when they see the harm it has for the monkeys' reputation.
27"Sagwa the Stray / ...And Action"April 2, 2002

As Sagwa has time to herself away from bossy Dongwa, she loses her collar and is adopted by a girl who lives on a boat. A stray cat named Nee-Lao rescues Sagwa and takes her place in the boat.

Two French-men come to the village on the Emperor's behalf, to show their latest invention: Moving pictures. Dongwa sees a chance to be a star, but ends up providing amusement when he acts silly instead of doing any actual writing.
28"Ba-Do and the Lantern Festival / Fu-Fu's Full Moon Flight"April 4, 2002

The princesses enjoy the Lantern Festival, but Ba-Do gets dirty, mistaken for a commoner and lost with Sagwa. When they meet a nice old woman, Ba-Do decides to donate her lucky money and enjoy the last of the festival.

Fu-Fu is hoaxed that he is out of his depth. He seeks the wisdom of Master Wu-Fu. At first Fu-Fu finds his lessons a bit odd, but his training pays off, especially when Sagwa is need of help.
29"Wedding Day Mess / A Catfish Tale"April 4, 2002

Tai-Tai's niece Angwan comes to the palace to be wed, Baba reluctant to meet with her. As the kittens try to deliver Angwan a present, a calamity ensues, but Angwan and her groom thought it was very funny and the wedding commences.

Sawga meets Uncle Catfish who tells a tale about a Shen-Shen, a girl cat who didn't respect her grandfather. She fell underwater and lived with a fish Callo for so long, she missed her grandfather. After a dilemma she married Callo.
30"Up, Up and Away / Spreading Rumors"April 5, 2002

Sagwa and Sheegwa find themselves flying in a hot-air balloon with the explorer Sir Richard to a fossil dig site, with Dongwa and Fu-fu in pursuit.

During the "Emotions of the Heart" festival, Sagwa tell lies about Hun-Hun because Dongwa kept breaking promises he made with Sagwa while the palace spreads rumours that Cook is engaged.
31"The Jade Rabbit / Dongwa's Best Friend"April 8, 2002
A new cat called Won-Tom becomes Dongwa's mate to do a lion dance. Dongwa then realizes that Won-Tom used him and took credit for his dancing. He manages to get the alley cat Ling to join in his own dance.
32"The Zodiac Zoo / The Four Dragons"April 9, 2002

Nai-Nai teaches the kittens what their zodiac sign is and tells them the story of the Jade Emperor getting all twelve animals to race to determine who the fastest, resulting in the rat first place.

The kittens are fascinated by Nai-Nai's dragon tales and do a play of one to show to the alley cats. Then the mice join in the performance. By the end of the tale, the alley cats are impressed.
33"Lost and Found / Three Graces"April 10, 2002
The emperor's birthday's coming up. The Foolish Magistrate and Tai-Tai get a gold medal made for the gift of the emperor. Sagwa and Fu-Fu stumble on it and play with it.
34"All Grown Up / The Cat and the Wind"April 11, 2002

Sheegwa tries to act older, while Baba tries to act young again. The kittens, Baba and Fu-Fu go on a treasure hunt, Sheegwa as the leader. When they find the treasure Sheegwa and Baba finally accept their current ages.

Dongwa has no taste for art. Mama tells the kittens a story about the magical artist cat Ming-Yao, who brought life and good from his art. The evil emperor wanted the power of destruction from him, until Ming-Yao banished him on a flagship.
35"Sister Act / Too Close for Comfort"April 12, 2002

The Magistrate's cousin Leyh comes to the palace for a stay over after his palace roof fell off. Sagwa learns to have fun with Ming-Yu, while Huang-Do learns to get along with Leyh's two sons.

Mama's sister, a catrobat named Aunt Chi-Chi is visiting. Sagwa and Sheegwa both learn acrobatics and teamwork. Meanwhile the Magistrate tries to become like Magistrate Chung until he learns to be true to his character.
36"Sick Day / The Name Game"September 21, 2002

Sheegwa is sick so she is begging a story and that's what Mama Miao always does when she is sick. So both Sagwa and Dongwa take turns telling their stories. Meanwhile, the Magistrate's cousins are coming over for a family reunion, which puts the Cook in a bind.

The alley cats ridicule the kittens' names. Nai-Nai tells the story of how they got their names and the kittens accept their names not bothered anymore by the alley cats teasing.
37"Shei-Hu's Secret / Homesick Jun"September 28, 2002
Shei-Hu satisfies Sagwa's curiosity on the Mouse Village. Despite her promise to keep it secret, it leaks to the alley cats who accidentally destroy the village. To make it up to the mice, the kittens aid them in rebuilding.
38"The Return of the Rat / Great Balls of Fire"September 28, 2002

The Rat comes back to the palace on the run from the alley cats. He uses Sheegwa to get what turns out to be a clay cookie. Sagwa makes the rat put it back and then he becomes part of their Zodiac Game.

Uncle Miao takes Sagwa and Dongwa on an Imperial expedition. The two kittens compete to be great helpers, but their hard work pays off and lead to a meteor discovery. Meanwhile Sheegwa tries to make the best of her time by herself.
39"Catsitter / On the Run"October 5, 2002

Auntie Wen looks after the kittens and introduces strange but wise lessons to them. Meanwhile the princesses try out their new bikes.

Sagwa and Fu-Fu hitch a ride with a puppeteer to leave the village. The next village they arrive in is unpleasant, but their saviours the puppeteer and his dog Fang come to the rescue.
40"Cha-Siu Bow Wow / Mutt That Would Be King"October 5, 2002

Auntie Mae-Mae, Uncle Miao and their adopted son Cha-Siu come for a visit. To Dongwa's surprise, Cha-Siu is a puppy. The Sleeve Dogs torment Cha-Siu for catlike behaviour but Dongwa helps him to fit in.

A lost dog gets bullied by Sagwa and the alley cats. Sagwa makes it up to the dog by helping him find his way home.


In 2003, PBS Home Video brought each compilation of individual episodes to VHS and DVD. On VHS, there were eight volumes with each containing three episodes. On DVD, there were four volumes, six episodes each. Each DVD combined episodes from each pair of the VHS tapes. A pair of VHS titles (Best Friends and Family Fun) were renamed for the Feline and Friends and Family DVD. There was also a 6 volume DVD box set, with each disc consisting of 5-6 episodes. Every disc comprises episodes based on themes and were divided in half for those select sections of segments. In 2006, sixteen episodes from the show were released on one disc as part of the PBS Kids pack anthology set, with the two other discs containing episodes from Zoboomafoo and George Shrinks.


July 30, 2002

January 28, 2003

April 1, 2003

July 29, 2003


January 28, 2003

July 29, 2003


  1. "PBS Sagwa". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved September 4, 2014.

External links

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