A group of wolves is a pack, a group of cattle is a herd. These are some common groups of animal names. But what is a group of cats called?
Although many of us have more than one cat in our house, we don’t know how to call them. That’s why I’ve done my research to find out. So without further ado, let’s hop in!
What is the Common Name of a Group of Cats?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the word “clowder” is considered to be the right way to call a group of cats.
The word is pronounced in the same way you say “chowder” and the term is used to describe any group that is made of three or more cats.
What is the Origin of the Word “Clowder”?
Despite being one of my new favorite words, I would’ve never guessed the word “clowder” on my own in a million years! That’s because it’s not exactly the kind of word that pops into your head when you see a group of cats.
However, once you know about the origin of the word, you can immediately understand how it came into existence!
According to Dictionary.com, the word isn’t actually that old. It was first recorded between 1795 and 1805 as a dialect of saying the word “clodder”.
Clodder is a Middle English word that was popular in the early eighteenth century, which describes things that are “clotted” or “huddled together”.
With that said, “clotted” is one perfect way to describe how a group of feral cats would be sitting together.
Although this is the only piece of explanation left for the word, it’s quite easy to understand how things went from there.
Even though this is just a speculation, it almost clicks in similarly for anyone once they learn about the origin of the word, which is why this explanation is widely accepted among linguists and English language experts.
Does the Word “Clowder” Apply to All Cats?
One thing you should know about the word clowder is that despite being the most officially recognized word for a group of cats, it’s also a generalized term that doesn’t require specific ties between the cats.
In other words, any 3 or more cats that are present in the same room might be called a clowder, whether they’re actually grouped together or not.
However, there are some other terms that are used to specify the type of relationship or the status of the cats, such as glaring, clutter, and pounce. But more about them and what they mean later.
Do Cats Originally Live in Groups?
If you have 3 cats at home, you might be able to call them a “clowder of cats”. However, that doesn’t necessarily show that the cats are actually forming a group.
Typically, the domestic cats in your house won’t likely form a group unless you have tons of cats living under your roof. This happens because cats, just like the majority of felines, prefer solitary living by nature.
Dogs, on the other hand, tend to live in groups that are called packs. They always have an alpha dog, which is the most dominant dog of the group and the one that leads the pack.
While the tendency of forming groups is embedded in dogs, cats don’t just do that by nature. Despite that, domestic cats can still develop strong bonds with each other, especially if they’re raised together.
Yet, this mainly depends on the personality of your cats. Some cats will just tolerate each other while some others might become seriously connected and tied to one another. But that’s a matter of luck!
What About Feral and Stray Cats?
Although cats aren’t keen on making groups, feral cats in the streets and cats in the wild might opt for that for better chances of survival.
As a rule of thumb, street cats and those in the wild will still likely prefer living and hunting alone. In that case, the cat will establish its own territory where it sleeps, eats, and hunts.
They will even mark the spot with their scent, which is why some domestic cats do that behavior too.
However, when there’s a reliable source of food, such as dumpsters and places where food leftovers are thrown out, they will likely form a group of various sizes and adapt to this kind of living.
Instead of the alpha male, cats will pick a female to lead the clowder, which is also called a queen.
This happens because female cats are more likely to form groups because feral males might be too aggressive to live in a group.
In addition to this type of clowder, the most common cat group you’ll see is a female cat living with its litter of kittens.
So as you can see, while cats are capable of forming a pack in certain situations, they won’t give you the same vibe a pack of dogs does.
What Are Other Names Given to Groups of Cats?
As I’ve mentioned above, there are quite a variety of names that you may use to call a group of cats.
Although these names might not be as officially termed as the word Clowder, they’re usually used to describe the group status or type of cats in them.
Let’s have a brief overview of each one of them.
As you know, “clotter” is the original word that developed into “clowder”.
However, some people prefer to use the term “clutter” instead of clowder because, as the name suggests, it makes a lot more sense to describe a group of cats as being a gathering of “cluttered furballs”!
Speaking of words that make sense, another way to describe a group of cats as you walk by one is “glaring of cats”.
You’d even notice it in the night when you pass by a large group of cats and all you see a dozen shiny eyeballs glaring at you!
A “destruction of cats” might sound like a joke, but it’s actually true! A group of cats, often feral ones, might be also called a “destruction”.
Although not all stray cats are destructive, they’re a little more aggressive than domestic ones, which makes them capable of wreaking havoc if they want to!
A “dout of cats”, also written as “dowt” by some, is an alternative method to call a group of feral cats.
A colony is also an official term used by many to call a group of feral cats (usually a smaller one), especially if there are multiple groups of cats around the area.
A “pride” is the official name given to a group of lions. However, I’ve come across many people that call their group of domestic cats a “pride”.
So, if you hear your neighbor speaking about his “pride of cats”, don’t worry, they’re just domestic cats (hopefully)!
A “kindle” of cats means a group of kittens. The term can be used interchangeably with the more popular term “litter”. Not to be confused with litter boxes!
The origin of the word “kindle’ is believed to come from the old English word “Kindelen”, which means giving birth to. Also, some say that kindle roots from the German word “kinder”, which means little children.
A pounce originally means an animal’s claw or the act of springing the body to jump and catch prey with the claws.
Both of these terms perfectly describe the way cats, especially stray ones, react to each other and to people passing by them, which is where the term comes from.
You probably know where this one came from. People call a group of cats a “nuisance” because they’re notorious for making demonic noises while fighting, e or even playing.
Entanglement is a relatively less common term to describe a litter than a kindle. However, it still has its devoted fans.
They’re used to describe the newborn’s state where they’re so closely packed by the mother that their limbs seem entangled.
Although all cats, in general, are known for being extremely curious, kittens are easily intrigued by just about anything.
For that reason, An “intrigue of cats” is more likely to describe kittens than adult cats. However, the whole term isn’t as commonly used as other terms, such as an “entanglement of kittens” or a“kindle of cats”.
Do Individual Cats Have Names?
In addition to groups of cats, even individual cats have some special names. These names were originally used to describe the different statuses of the cat without having to name each one.
For example, most of the following terms are used to directly give you an insight into the cat’s gender as well as being sexually mature or had their reproductive organ removed.
- Tom (Tomcat): a sexually mature male cat
- Gib: a castrated male cat
- Molly: a spayed female cat
- Queen: a sexually mature female cat (also the leader in feral groups)
Can Domestic Cats Actually Form a Group?
Although you might think that the abundance of food in your house will develop a cat group, this isn’t exactly true.
If you’ve been around a group of stray or feral cats, you’ll notice that they behave a lot different when compared to domestic cats.
Even if you live in a multi-cat household, domestic cats don’t do it the same way. In fact, many multi-cat owners reported that domestic cats are more submissive to a male than a female like in the wild.
Interestingly, What Is the Origin of the Word “Cat” Itself?
The word cat itself has a lot of history, which is not surprising since cats have been around humans for thousands of years.
The modern word “cat” is developed from the Middle English word “catte” and the Old English word “catt”, both of which originate from the Late Latin word “cattus” and the Old Latin word “catta”.
The word “catta” itself is believed to be derived from the Afro-Asiatic word “kaddîska”. According to National Geographic, the Ancient Egyptians might be the first civilization to domesticate cats around 4,000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptians used to call them “caute”, which is where the word “kaddîska” itself came from.
With that said, you now know that a group of cats can have not just one name, but many! However, clowder is the most official one of them, being mentioned in most dictionaries and dates back to over 300 years.