Cat Words That Irritate Me

Some of the words that cat owners use irritate me. The same applies to other aspects of the world of cats including breeders of cats and even references to wild cats. I realise that I get irritated quite easily so what irritates me is not necessarily a good indication that the word is indeed irritating but I’ll write about them anyway.

A note to regular visitors: If you like some of these words and use them, please don’t be upset with me. It is just me. I’m like that.

Cat Words That Irritate Me

Cat Words That Irritate Me

Here are some cat words that irritate me:

Kitty – this is a well used word. And it is used worldwide. It annoys me. For me, it conjures up an image of an oldish cat caretaker who doesn’t really know that much about cats, does an average job at looking after their cat and sees the cat as a fluffy thing that adorns her home. “Here kitty kitty“..irritates me even more. For me “here kitty kitty” is indicative of some of the things that are wrong in the relationship between cat and human. It is partly because it is a little bit derogatory. It is said in a baby voice indicating that the person treats the cat as a human baby.

Pussy – hmm..this word is a bit old-fashioned because as slang it is now used to describe that part of the human female anatomy that we are not allowed to mention (in the UK anyway). I think the US version is “fanny”. This word doesn’t really irritate me but it is somewhat like “kitty”. “Here pussy, pussy…” comes to mind. For me it is a bit stupid.

Feral cat – I have mentioned this before. This terminology is not good for cats. The word “feral” indicates something out of control and bad. We use the word to describe kids who are criminals and completely out of control. The word applies to kids who have not received any parenting. Feral cat conjures up a mangy, thin cat scavenging for food and which is fair game to be brutalised by people. The problem is that people conveniently forget that they created feral cats. “Community cats” is much kinder and it would promote more kindly and humane behavior towards these generally disliked and even hated cats. Perhaps the word is used to deflect attention away from human responsibility for these cats.

Harvest – no we are not writing about corn or wheat but beautiful wild cats shot for their skins. People in the business of killing wild cats for their skin write of “harvesting”. They decide what degree of harvesting is allowable to sustain populations. I hate this word. It is so disrespectful of nature and these beautiful animals. Sadly even highly educated people who should have feelings about the word use it. I am referring to Mel and Fiona Sunquist the authors of the best book on wildcats, Wild Cats Of The World. Conservationists use the word too. Which brings me to…

Pelt – one those words that is meant to hide the real meaning: skin. The skin and gorgeous fur of a real, live, beautiful, athletic predator that should be left alone to live in the wild. Humans are good at using words that hide what is really going on. Which brings me to..

Euthanasia – this conjures up a beautiful transition from life to death under the most humane of conditions. Sometimes the word is used accurately. A great deal of the time it is not. It just masks the reality and perpetuates the nasty side of life that we prefer to brush under the carpet and try and forget about as it reminds us of our failures.

Alter – this is a word used by people in the cat fancy (breeders and showers) to classify a cat that has been neutered. It is a horrible word. It brings up thoughts of some sort of Frankenstein-type cat who has been altered.

Modified wedge –  bizarre terminology to describe the head and face of a purebred cat in breed standards. It is used often. For me it is almost completely meaningless. A head can’t be entirely wedge shaped so it has to modified. So why use the phrase? And it is very hard to see a head as a wedge.

Break – this refers to the shape of a purebred cat’s nose. I have always struggled with what this word means, which shows you how misleading and misconceived a word it is. These are the words used for the flat-faced Persian nose: NOSE: short, snub, and broad, with “break” centered between the eyes. Go figure what “break” means. The cat associations never illustrate their breed standards (guides for breeders on appearance of a purebred cat).

Queen – description of a mother cat who has kittens or a female cat kept for breeding. Where did this word come from? It’s a bit weird. It is a bit sycophantic and over indulgent. Just say “mother cat’ and be done with it. If a mother cat is a queen why isn’t the father a king? He is called a “tom cat”. This is sexist!  It looks as though this word was devised by women in the breeding business. It is indicative of slight sexism.

Massive – this describes the way the head of a Persian cat should look! Come on, cat fancy. That is a horrible exaggeration and encourages extreme breeding.

Moggie – I find this word OK actually. I use it a lot myself. But it is not quite right for me. It conjures up ideas of average, unrefined, uninteresting etc. It is wrong if the word does that because moggies are just as beautiful as any other cat. They are random-bred cats. They are not “mixed-breed” cats because they are of no breed whatsoever. Although that is a mute point because all cats have some purebred in them. It’s complicated. What might be a better word for moggie? “Non-purebred” is a bit clumsy. Perhaps we should just refer to them as “cats” and when referring to purebred cats we make that clear.

Do any cat words irritate you? Have I missed some? I probably have. Am I just a grumpy old man?

FB comments (see below)


Cat Words That Irritate Me — 15 Comments

  1. Cat “owner” gets on my wick, you don’t own another living creature but “guardian” sounds like someone on duty,”caretaker” sounds like someone who does the menial jobs at a school but is the best of the bunch I reckon.
    Fanny in our neck of the woods isn’t posterior,it’s the same as pussy.
    What I love about PoC is Micheal accepts others points of view and never censors comments,well apart from the spate of jealous and bitter ones over last years Christmas compo from some mean folk whose favourite didn’t win.
    Loved your comments too Mike,interesting blog links.

    • Thanks Rose. I hate “owner” too but have to use it sometimes because mainstream cat keeping use the word “ownership”. I should have included the word in the list and am glad you added it.

  2. If you’re a grumpy old man Michael, then I qualify as a grumpy middle aged woman. You do have a point though, that language drives how people think, and there are some words in the cat world that aren’t helpful to the cat, especially euthanasia when it means killing an animal because it’s more convenient for humans to kill it.
    The double meaning for pussy is exactly the same in the US as in the UK. I hate that word too, actually. It can also be used to denote someone who is wimpy or a coward as well as a synonym for female naughty bits. Fanny just means your backside, as in, “Get off your fanny and help me do the dishes.” I guess I don’t have a real problem with the word kitty. To me it is an affectionate term and cats do actually respond to it, probably because of the ‘k’ and the ‘t’ sounds. I notice Monty learned the word “treat” before he learned snack, food, lunch, or any other word for food. There are certain consonants that seem to catch a cat’s attention, and since kitty is a word they respond well to it doesn’t really bother me. I used to call our cats in with the “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty…” said really fast and really loud. It wouldn’t take long and a cat would appear, running up out of the ravine by my parents’ house in the same way Monty comes running now if I say “Treat.”

  3. What a great article. I agree with you on most of it or all of it. I hate the whole cat fancy thing to be honest and I think they sound awful how they talk about cats and worse still is how they ‘diplay’ them and judge them at shows and the way they sort of hold them up all elongated and look at them like objects – i hate that bit where some fancy cat fancy lady holds the cat up abover her height and sort twirls it a bit for all to see, with this judgemental tone in her actions. Yuk. Yuk yuk yuk. It looks silly. And their jargon is not very nice.
    In Slovenia the word Moggy/Moggie has no meaning its just a word and my slovenian ex girlfriend liked it enough to name her one boy cat by it. How she spells it I dont know, probably with an ‘i’ on the end so ‘Moggi’ since that works in slovenian. Its a nice name. But I agree about the fact that the word insinuates something quite boring which it shouldn’t.

  4. I wouldn’t say grumpy at all. In fact you sound quite mild and benevolent. Do you want grumpy? I can give you lots of grumpy when it comes to the bloody fool things that are said in the cat fancy. How about…..

    “Bettering the breed” – this drivel mantra is blurted out at every opportunity by just about every pedigree breeder trying to justify their existence while doing what they really do. Which is …

    “Cat Producer”. I lied – I actually like this phrase – because it’s the truth. But you’ll never get anyone in the cat fancy to admit it, unless they’re slagging off another breeder (usually someone not in the registered cat fancy). Ho no!

    “Scored according to the SOP” This string of un-meaning is intended to make one think the judge has actually done something objective and scientific while they were whirling the cat around in the air, showing off for the crowd. In point of fact they decide entirely subjectively whether they like the cat (or the owner or breeder) today, and proceed accordingly. And I’ve got that in writing from some of the top cat judges – their opinion is “subjective”. Challenge one of them to judge a cat and record the SOP scores and add them to arrive at a total. See what happens!

    And how could it be anything other than subjective, with the fluffy nonsense in the SOP – designed, I might add, to muddy the waters and deter anyone else from pointing out that the judge is barking (oops!) mad. It’s in the “eye of the beholder” – which is another phrase that irritates me.

    How about “may the best cat win”? GNNNGGHHHH!!! AAAAARGHH!! The meaning of this horrible little lie is “may the person who we have decided in advice will win at this show (who is often the show manager, or the judge who is giving us accommodation) enjoy it, and may all the others smile and continue to support us, because if you don’t we’ll make sure your cat never wins again”.

    A personal unfavourite of mine is “it’s only a hobby – we mustn’t get too serious about it”. A nasty little saying, describing people who get a kick out of breeding to excess and routinely dragging cats out of their crates at home, stuffing them into carriers and then putting them in show cages at the destination – all for their self-gratification and ego. The “not get serious” bit gets mentioned when you raise issues around governance and how odious it looks that a judge is judging the cats of the breeder who is selling them cats (or the judge is the godmother to the child of the exhibitor, or the judge has been entertained and wined and dined by the exhibitor before the show & etc).

    Which brings me to another little pet hate saying “Are you questioning my integrity?”. In a word – yes. Exactly. Couldn’t have put it better myself. What integrity?

    There are many, many more. But I don’t want to frighten you!

    You’ve got me on a roll – I’m going to reblog this – will credit you for the great topic.

    BTW – have a look at


    Or the whole lot if you like…

  5. ‘Kitty’ and ‘fixed’ irritate me too, why not just say cat or kitten and how can you ‘fix’ something not broken?
    Also spay/neuter, neutering covers both sexes, spaying a female, castrating a male, neuters them, so why not just say neuter?
    Desexed also gets on my nerves as if the animal was neutered for being sex mad.
    Euthanasia in place of kill annoys me too, euthanasia is the gentle death of an animal to end suffering, it does not apply to the killing of a healthy animal because he/she is unwanted.
    I hate the word ‘cull’ too, trying to make it sound like it’s not the killing of numerous healthy animals!
    Oh dear I think I qualify for the grumpy old folks club too lol

    • Yes, well done Ruth. “Fixed” is a great one and horrible. It is such a human word for something that is quite major for the cat although sadly necessary. If a man had to be “fixed” he’d fight for his life not to.

  6. Well said Michael, I also dislike “Kitty” which seems to me to be patronising to cats, I hate “fixed” for neutered and it really irritates me when someone says spayed or neutered as though one is female and the other male, it’s ALL neutering. I also dislike all this F1 business with hybrid cats, in fact I hate the way cats have been interfered with and cats that should be wild have been obtained by people and kept in cages.I’m pretty grumpy too.

    • I agree that “f1 and “f2” etc. is sort of treating cats as products. Thanks for reminding me of that Babz. It is a bit like a car. You buy a standard model (“S”) and a luxury model (“SRi”).

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