clowder of cats at a sanctuary

A clowder is a group of cats in the same place1 (see the picture above). I was prompted into researching the word by Shelley, who posted this article recently: I love ferals. The interesting thing about this old fashioned and rarely used word (I presume that it is not obsolete) is its orgins – what are they? In finding out I also bumped into another interesting word, “kindle”. The word would be used like this: I saw a clowder of cats in the shade. It would seem that this word has been superseded to an extent by the word “colony” (in reference to colony of feral cats) as it would usually be used in reference to feral cats, it seems to me.

The word clowder was used more in the past. Here are a couple of examples from some books (now in the public domain) from the early 1800s in Britain. You can also see the variation in the spelling of the word “kindle” (kendel of young cats) :

hunting terms clowder
Above: The sports and pastimes of the people of
England from the earliest period …By Joseph Strutt – 1801

Above: The Monthly review By Ralph Griffiths
George Edward Griffiths – 1802

Clowder is said to be a variation the word “clodder that means a clotted mass from the era 1795–1805. The verb “to clodder” means to clot or coagulate. There is also the word “clotter” that means to huddle together2. Clotter is an obsolete word and the word “clutter” has it origins in the word “clotter” from 1550 – 15603. From 1811 clowder is said to be a variation of the verb “to clutter”4.

An entirely different source5 says that the word originates from the 15th century in reference to “clouder” and then later “crowder” in the book of St. Alban. This word meant crowd, cluster, clotting or coagulating. There is a town named after St. Alban called St.Albans about 20 miles north of London, England,.

Other terms, which have similar meanings are: pride of lions, a colony of ferals cats and a kindle of kittens. As can be seen from the extracts of old books the word “kindle” has been spelled in various ways: kyndyll, kendal, kendel. Kindle today more often means an electronic book. Kindle also means to call forth or to catch fire6. I could not find any reference to the word “kindle” as meaning a group of kittens except at and in the old books above.

From Clowder to Cat History


Link to original Flickr photo







Facebook Discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please try and upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks. Comment rules: (1) respect others (2) threatening, harassing, bullying, insulting and being rude to others is forbidden (3) advocating cat cruelty is forbidden (4) trolls (I know who they are) must use real name and upload a photo of themselves. Enforcement: (1) inappropriate comments are deleted before publication and (2) commenters who demonstrate a desire to flout the rules are banned. Failure to comply with (4) results in non-publication. Lastly, please avoid adding links because spam software regards comments with links as spam and holds them in the spam folder. I delete the spam folder contents daily.