Tuesday 5 May 2009

The Cat Dictionary (So Far) In Full

To flail wildly and absurdly at the air with one's back leg as one's owner attempts to "help" by scratching an itch which, in all honesty, you had perfectly well covered. Some say the air scratch is not as involuntary as it seems, and is actually an obscene gesture whose roots stretch back as far as ancient egypt: a kind of feline version of a two-fingered salute, but much, much ruder. Others just bemoan it as another forlorn symbol of man's increasing interference in cat culture, a debasement of nature that will ultimately send us on a road to a dark place where a word like "natural" no longer even has any meaning.

The noise that accompanies the eradication – or attempted eradication - of an ear mite.

The quality of feline true grit in the face of adversity (e.g. managing to stoically wait out the twenty minutes between the biscuit dispenser becoming empty and your human serf abandoning his overdue, half-finished piece of journalism to hotfoot it down to the pet store for replacement supplies).

The ancient and mysterious social law that governs the cat universe and allows cold-blooded killing machines to live in relative harmony, frequently under the same roof. When is it considered good form to steal an older moggy’s favourite spot on a favourite chair? What exactly makes it ok to virtually insert your nose into a fellow cat’s rear end one day, and it a passing sniff an outright offence less than twenty four hours’ later? In a hungry gaggle of six of Norfolk’s most duplicitous, randomly thrown-together pusses, who decides who gets priority at the dinner table, and how? If you’ve sprayed a microscopic bit of piss on a curtain, why does that make you “well hard” in the environs of that room, but only “a bit of a big girl” as soon as you step over the carpet divider? How does a cat implicitly understand what a “garden” is, and where it begins and ends? Humans remain in the dark about all this, but Catiquette provides the answers.

Feline scholars are split upon estimating when the ancient language of dsdasighgdshsddc first emerged. Some put the date around about 1983, during the rise of the BBC Micro and the ZX Spectrum. Others claim that techno geek cats in San Francisco's South Park district were communicating in it as far back as 1974. Whatever the case, it is generally agreed that dsdasighgdshsddc has been in regular use since the early 90s. While often written off by humans as a random, unintentional series of letters generated by the patter of mischievous paws across a keyboard, what many people don't know is that dsdasighgdshsddc actually forms an entire exclamatory, often insult-heavy, feline language: a kind of profane moggy binary, if you like, being sent to other cats across the globe via a complex email system invisible to the human eye. Popular examples of dsdasighgdshsddc "dissing" include auoagfoylhgo ("Eat my tail scum!") and oiaiuhagiuggghafug ("Your mum was a Griffon Bruxellois!"). Of course, with the rise of the Internet, dsdasighgdshsddc has evolved, mutated and, some would claim, been irrevocably dumbed down. For example, jhjdhjdhdddddddvvvd ("Oh my god! How much do I want my owner to get off this computer and let me pad his stomach!") is now lazily abbreviated by many Generation Y cats to to a simpler, less poetic jhdvvvvd.

The telepathic process which leads a cat to only get properly settled on its owner’s stomach in the moments when that owner is most desperate for the toilet.

The peculiar, tickly sensation experienced whilst swallowing a particularly meaty and recalcitrant bluebottle.

Crunchy yet slightly moist snacks that are passed off as a “treat” because they cost more and come in smaller, very slightly more lavish packaging, but essentially taste just like other more ostenstibly run-of-the-mill crunchy yet slightly moist snacks.

The inarguable mathematical law that states that a cat’s affection will rise and fall in direct proportion to the dirt on its body at the time.

The bits of jellified catmeat that escape from the bowl and weld themselves to hardwood floors and kickboards – sometimes even if you don’t have kickboards.

To offer crucial moral support with while one’s owner is hard at work. More popular examples include “Painting” (brushing one’s tail against some fresh paintwork and leaving a hairy residue), “Carrying” (darting in between one’s owner’s feet when they are transporting a heavy tray of food between rooms) and “Testing For Bacteria” (licking some freshly buttered bread while one’s owner's back is turned).

A perfectly-placed mouse, held between the teeth in a perfectly horizontal manner (preferably with a slight downward droop at each end), so as to make the creature’s captor look particularly dashing. Out-of-vogue variations include “The Zapata Mousetache”, “Sidebirds”, and the rare-but-always-impressive “Handlebat”.

Feeling a bit low? Looking back wistfully to that time all those years ago, when you still had testicles, and you could actually remember who your parents were? Why not stretch your claws, find some mummyfur, and get stuck in? Pretty much any soft, non-shiny, recently laundered surface will do, but slightly damp towels and sheepskin are considered the ultimate delicacies of the mummyfur genre.

The state of bliss created by the perfect friction of an owner’s fingers on a fully-extended chin.

The act of pushing one’s cold wet nose into one’s owner’s hand or knuckle. Largely thought of as a gesture of affection, but sometimes given a bad press, owing to its alternative nickname, “Losing The Snot”.

Essentially a larger version of the nuggin, involving the full upper-head area. Usually employed at times when jellied meat is in the immediate vicinity.

A particularly furious, zen kind of padding session, often, but not always, involving a far-off, determined look in the eye and immense wear and tear on soft human body parts. Also known as: “Marching” or “Cooking The Dough”.

The mysterious force allowing a contented cat to fold its limbs, head and torso into an area a quarter of the size of its usual body mass.

Tissues (preferably Sainsbury’s Rose-Scented).

Those meditative I-should-really-have-a-newspaper-here moments on the litter tray or the freshly hoed soil when one’s hard-set veneer of dignity is momentarily dropped, a certain faraway dreaminess comes over the eyes, and, just for twenty or thirty seconds, all in the world is right.

To urinate in a completely new and innovative place, instigating a trend for such action amongst your fellow felines. Born leaders but also generally kind of snotty, cats who set a pissident know that their originality comes at a price, and, upon seeing others follow lamely in their wake, can often be heard to mutter comments like "here come the mindless vultures, picking over the corpse of my brilliance" and "now I know how The Beatles must have felt when they heard the Marmalade's cover of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."

The mystic force that, without the need for discussion or consensus, will cause numerous cats in the same room all to clean their most hard-to-get regions at exactly the same time.

The particularly contented, lengthy state of REM that occurs after one has clandestinely intercepted one’s owners shopping bags in the wake of their last trip to the seafood counter.

Also known as a “half-whisker” – frequently displayed by feral cats who have been caught in traps by unfeeling farmers and cat rescue officers or in the clutches of bigger, scarier ferals (“I was just a twhisker away from twatting that big-tailed ginger plonker”). Sometimes, Twiskers grow back, Sometimes they don’t. Professors of Catology remain in the dark as to exactly why this is. Often mistakenly thought of as a sign of masculinity or “streetness”, the Twisker ultimately signifies little aside from bad balance and potential undermog status.

The wobbly-lipped noise made by a cat when it looks out of a window and sees a wood pigeon “acting up”.


Teri and her Stylish Adventure Cats said...

I am sure this dictionary will help me at work...at the Cat Hospital. It helps to know what cats are trying to get us humans to comprehend!

Anonymous said...

uh huh. MMMMM. "Puddings" aka "Making biscuits," or "kneading" in the US. No other defintions seem to need (hah) a cross-cultural explanation. Nom Nom!
One Cat Girl

Anonymous said...

So good to see another cat dictionary! I compiled one years ago, from my word-loving family, and a clever friend.
Here's a sample:
Babying: the vulnerable twist of the body a cat makes (belly visible, head back) in order to endear himself to a human. This supports theory that all pets are bred to be eternally young and submissive. Process was only partially successful with cats, of course.
Nubbing: what a cat does when the paws are tucked completely under the chest.
Snoofling: noisy sniffing, usually around person.
Happy paws: ecstatic opening and closing of claws, usually accompanied by loud purring.
Keep up the fight for the felines!Louise
Montreal, Canada

Victor Tabbycat said...

MOL! E.S.Pee! Ok, so whatcha call it that da moment da litter box is clean, we just gots to go?

Mom was werkin too hard in Excel, so I inserted a comment. Den she wanted to know my keyboard shortcut! I's not tellin.
Twitter: @VictorTabbycat

jmuhj said...

Umm, may we respectfully -- or otherwise -- submit that you forgot "yargle".

La Snoopy-Hound said...

Is there a word for a cat that's performing puddings, arse towards person's face, and they get so excited they manage to do a little bit of a squirty poo?
I'm badly in need of that kind of word...

Anonymous said...

In our house we have the familiar ritual of 'Succubussing': like 'puddings', but with a bit of the relevant material (on or off human) firmly held between the teeth, often accompanied with dry (or not so dry) humping.

Anonymous said...

Hempy. Adjective. Of Essex origin. Refers to the state of a cat who is sufficiently disgruntled to leave you talking to the tail (let alone the paw). Usually applied to female felines, although the odd, fouol-miaouwed tom also merits the term.