cat, cats

(Greek: katta to Late Latin: cattus)

cat (s) (noun), cats (pl)
1. A small, furry, four-footed, carnivorous mammal ("Felis cats" or "Felis domestics") domesticated since early times as a catcher of rats and mice and as a pet and existing in several distinctive breeds and varieties: When James and Jamie lived on the farm, they always had barn cats that were adept at catching mice and rats.
2. Any of various other carnivorous mammals of the family "Felidae", which includes the lion, tiger, leopard, and lynx: With her binoculars, Mildred could see a large cat, perhaps a lynx, moving across the ridge of hills in the mountains.
3. As an informal application, a woman who is regarded as spiteful: There is always at least one cat among the women gossipers in the town.
4. In slang usagea a man; a player or devotee of jazz music: Hank was a cool cat who played a brass trombone in a band.
5. Etymology: The related words in the Romance languages; such as, Spanish and Portuguese gato, gata and Italian gatto, gatta, came from Medieval Latin gattus, gatta, variants of Late Latin cattus, catta. French chat, chatte came directly from Late Latin cattus, catta. Late Latin cattus and catta are possibly loan words from an African language: Nubian kadis, "cat".

Cats are believed to have been living in close association with humans for thousands of years

The cat, also called the "domestic cat" or "house cat", is a small carnivorous mammal of the subspecies "Felis silvestris catus". Its most immediate pre-domestication ancestor is believed to be the African wild cat, "Felis silvestris lybica".

Cats had a special place in the lives of ancient Egyptians

About 5,000 years ago cats were accepted members of the households of Egypt. Many of the breeds we now know have evolved from these ancient cats. The Egyptians used the cat to hunt fish and birds as well as to destroy the rats and mice that infested the grain stocks along the Nile.

The cat was considered so valuable that laws protected it, and eventually a cult of cat worship developed that lasted for more than 2,000 years. The cat goddess "Bastet"—whose name was also spelled "Bast", "Pasht", and many other ways—became one of the most sacred of all figures of worship. She was represented with the head of a cat. Soon all cats became sacred to the Egyptians, and all were well cared for.

After a cat's death, its body was mummified and buried in a special cemetery. One cemetery found in the 1800s in Egypt contained the preserved bodies of more than 300,000 cats.

The Egyptians had strict laws prohibiting the export of cats, however because cats were valued in other parts of the world for their rat-catching talents, they were taken by the Greeks and Romans to most parts of Europe. Domestic cats have also been found in India, China, and Japan where they were prized as pets as well as rodent catchers, and in China (and other parts of Asia), as meat for meals.

An example of an ancient worship of cats.
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Cats come in all sizes, breeds, colors, and fur styles

There are dozens of breeds of cats, some hairless or even tailless because of mutations, and they exist in a variety of different colors. Cats are skilled predators and have been known to hunt over one thousand different species for food. They are also intelligent animals, and some can be trained, or learn by themselves, to manipulate simple mechanisms, such as lever-handled doors.

Compiled from information located at
"The Cat in History".
cat burglar (s) (noun), cat burglars (pl)
A thief who gets into a building by climbing up a wall and going in through a window without being seen: When Janet arrived home after the party, she was shocked to see that a cat burglar had gotten into her apartment and stolen all of her jewelry and valuable coin collections.
cat fight (s) (noun), cat fights (pl)
An angry fight or argument between two or more women: Corinne and her sister, Jan, were having a cat fight about who would be dumping and resupplying the litter box of their two cats.
Cat got your tongue?
Used to ask a person why he or she is not responding or saying anything: "You have been unusually quiet during the meeting," Monroe said. "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
cat's-eye (s) (noun), cat's-eyes (pl)
A jewel which has a stripe that is not bright going down the middle that makes it appear like the eye of a cat: Jason bought his wife some cat's-eyes to add to her precious rings and necklaces, for which she was very happy.
caterpillar (s) (noun), caterpillars (pl)
1. The larva or a worm with a long soft body, many short legs, and that often has brightly colored or spiny skin: The caterpillar develops and changes into a butterfly or a moth.
2. Etymology: from Latin catta pilosa, "hairy cat".

Literally, "a hairy she-cat", the word being derived from Old (North) French catte (French chatte, "she-cat") and pelue, "hairy".

catfish (s) (noun), catfish (pl)
A kind of fish that has a big head and long thin parts that look something like a cat's whiskers around its mouth: Oliver was successful in catching four catfish for the evening meal.
catnap (s) (noun), catnaps (pl)
A short time of sleeping, a brief snooze: Karl took a catnap after working out at the fitness studio.
fighting like cats and dogs; fight like cats and dogs
To argue a lot or in a very forceful and angry way: Shareen's sister and husband seemed to be always fighting like cats and dogs.
let the cat out of the bag
To tell others about a secret: Jan's parents wanted to have a surprise party for his sister, but he let the cat out of the bag.
look what the cat dragged in
A reference to someone who has come into a room or an area: When Hayden got to the meeting quite late, the chairman said, "Well, look what the cat dragged in."
rain cats and dogs (verb), rains cats and dogs; rained cats and dogs; raining cats and dogs
To rain very hard or heavily: When Jill looked out of the window during the storm, she said, "We can't go shopping now because it's raining cats and dogs!"
A deluge of rain.
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Cross references of word families that are related directly, or indirectly, to: "cat": aeluro-, eluro-; feli-, felin-; galeo-; gato-.