Essay on Cats


The English word cat (Old English catt) is in origin a loanword, introduced to many
languages of Europe from Latin cattus[14] and Byzantine Greek
κάττα, including Portuguese and Spanish gato, French chat, German
Katze, Lithuanian katė and Old Church Slavonic kotka, among others.[15] The ultimate
source of the word is Afroasiatic, presumably from Late Egyptian čaute,[16] the
feminine of čaus “wildcat”. The word was introduced, together with the domestic
animal itself, to the Roman Republic by the 1st century BC.[citation needed] An
alternative word with cognates in many languages is English puss (pussycat). Attested only
from the 16th century, it may have been introduced from Dutch poes or from Low German
puuskatte, related to Swedish kattepus, or Norwegian pus, pusekatt. Similar forms exist in
Lithuanian puiћė and Irish puisнn. The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may
have simply arisen from a sound used to attract a cat.[17][18]

A group of cats is referred to as a “clowder” or a “glaring”,[19] a male cat is called a
“tom” or “tomcat”[20] (or a “gib”,[21] if neutered), a female is called a “molly”[citation
needed] or (especially among breeders) a “queen”,[22] and a pre-pubescent juvenile is
referred to as a “kitten”. The male progenitor of a cat, especially a pedigreed cat, is
its “sire”,[23] and its female progenitor is its “dam”.[24] In Early Modern English, the
word kitten was interchangeable with the now-obsolete word catling.[25]
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