The language of cats … and language about cats. My family has an entire glossary of cat terms. Below are some illustrations. The pictures may illustrate things cats say with their voices or things that they say through their posture, attitude, or actions.
My husband’s family has severe allergies, so he did not have any pets when he was growing up. My family did have pets, but we unfortunately took very few pictures of them. I am therefore posting pictures of the pets my husband and I have had together through the years. Since we have known one another for 34 years and have been married for 27, I guess some of these count as “old” pictures.
CAT POSES (INDIVIDUAL)
Longcat – Maximum extension
Exposed – Like “longcat,” only with tummy on top for maximum tummy-scratching opportunity
Don Martin feet – a phenomenon associated with “exposed.” If you spent a wasted youth reading Mad Magazine, you’ll know what this is.
Flop-n-squirm – Cat approaches person, flops down on floor, stretches and rolls around on floor in various longcat and exposed postures, inviting admiration and affection
CAT POSES (GROUP)
Cat yin-yang, cat spoons, catlick, etc. – Various expressions of cat coziness and affection
Bookends – What it sounds like
Line-o-cats – What it sounds like; the more cats are involved, the rarer it is
Heap-o-cats – What it sounds like
(Below are four kittens that were abandoned at our church; we rescued them and found homes for them over the course of the next several weeks during a very fondly remembered November. For those weeks, we had eight cats in our household ... ah, the good old days.)
Cat-in-a-box (Cat-in-a-basket, Cat-in-a-bag) – Self-explanatory. Cats particularly fond of tight locations.
Catacombs – Cat buried or hidden, or in plain sight but disguised by surroundings
Outitude – Cat gives self bath. Cat forgets to reel in tongue. Used in a sentence: “Oh, look, Pipsqueak has an outitude.”
“Meep-meep!” = “I’m cute. Give me some love.” Second “meep” is more high-pitched and more emphatic. Only one of our cats, Fred, ever uttered this or The Silent Meow, and he is shown below – I can’t remember which one he is doing in this picture.
The Silent Meow – This term may have been coined by Paul Gallico. Cat opens mouth to meow, but nothing comes out except a faint exhalation of air, the equivalent of a cat whisper or sigh.
Beans – Cat’s eyes get square, cat starts to wiggle rear end, then runs around insanely with much spazzing. Unless you are a super-skilled action photographer, you can really only capture “incipient beans” (first two pictures below – notice the eyes and the ears). The third picture is "in medias beans,” a Latin expression which, as Lemony Snicket would say, in this case means “in between beans.” May lead to next item.
“I meant to do that.” – Attempt by cat to look nonchalant after doing something really stupid. Example: Cat runs around insanely (see “Beans”), crashes into wall. Cat then licks shoulder as though nothing happened. Or: Cat launches self off of back of recliner, propels self onto window screen, then hangs there with an indifferent look on its face as though all is cool.
Acting ugly – (Southernism) Cat assumes threatening posture toward another cat, hisses, swats at, chases, scratches, bites another cat. Or cat lies in wait and pounces on another cat. Cat fights in general. Used in a sentence: “R.B., stop acting ugly.” (Sometimes accompanied by “I’m gonna mess U up” = meant to be a threatening sound or utterance, but the voice is so high-pitched, the effect is ridiculous.)
Oogie – Brazenly naughty. Related: To oog = to act in a brazenly naughty manner. Ooginess = brazen naughtiness. Oh, no, I have not been able to find a picture which illustrates this. Those sneaky little stinkers.
Bonk – Head-tap of affection
ODDS & ENDS
Two-headed cat – Self-explanatory
Cat Lovey - Same as a baby lovey; cat's special "security friend"
Cataholics - What we are. We may have more pictures of our cats than we do of our kids. We are close to becoming crazy little old cat people. Dangerously close.
Submitted for the 13th edition of Smile for the Camera: All Creatures Great and Small.