You Can’t Be A “Cat Lady” Without These Words

Cat lady

One idea for the origin of the cat lady trope roots it in the 1800-1900s, when etchings and cartoons started popping up showcasing unmarried “old maids” and their “unnatural” love for their kitties, including in literature. The cat-lady stereotype heightened in the 1990s (thanks to The Simpsons‘ Eleanor Abernathy) and continued to rise in the 2000s.

Nowadays, cat ladies don’t always have the best reputation, but they are slightly more acceptable—thanks to major cultural events (women standing up for themselves, yay!), a huge online presence, and perhaps Taylor Swift’s love for her cats.

So, maybe you’ve been accused of being a cat lady … or you’re a self-proclaimed one. Of course, there’s room for cat gentlemen, too! Whatever the case, embrace that love of cats by discarding the pejorative connotations—and expand your feline vocabulary as we build the leading Cat Lady Dictionary together. Cat ladies, unite!


When you have cat-titude (cat attitude), you’re acting a lot like your furry friend. That’s right cat lovers, we’re talking to you. These characteristics can range from “acting unimpressed” when a friend says something to “swatting” at a person when you want them to go away. Me-ow.


If you are a true cat lover (and total word-nerd), you know what ailurophile means. But, in case you need a refresher, we’re happy to help. The term dates back to at least 1925 and refers to someone who love cats or, ahem, prefers them over people.


Sure, over the years cat ladies have been associated with the sexist term spinster, since they apparently prefer the company of cats to that of a significant other. However, that doesn’t mean they’re sitting at home doing nothing.

A cat lady may be a connoisseur (“devotee, discerning judge”) of crafts. She has helped bring back the lost pastimes of knitting, crocheting, and quilting. She may not be in a rush to settle and get married because just like her perfect cross-stitch, an average partner just won’t do.


No, we’re not talking about that device you read books on (or igniting an old romantic flame). In the Cat Lady Dictionary, the term kindle refers to a “family of kittens,” and it comes from the words kindelen (“to give birth to,” as a litter), related to kindel (“offspring”).

Recorded as early as 1175, the history of the word seems irrelevant when there are kittens to cuddle.


One necessity every cat lady needs is a lint roller. She may have one in the house, in the car, and even at work to keep the feline fur at bay. And, this habit makes her a total neatnik (“an extremely neat person”). A cat lady may love her cats, but she doesn’t want to shed like one.


Every cat lover enjoys hearing the sounds of a kitty purr. An imitative word, t’s a “low, vibrating sound” made by the “contracting of the laryngeal muscles and the diaphragm.” It apparently means the cat is happy and content, which makes every good owner equally elated.

A cat’s purr might also have health benefits to humans. The “frequencies” in a cat’s purr have been said to help calm the mind and relax the muscles.


A personality trait of cats and their owners, autonomous is a welcome addition to the Cat Lady Dictionary. Embrace that Cat Lady label with pride. You’re independent, you’re focused, and you’re able to do whatever you want because you have an autonomous cat who requires little in the way of caregiving.

We’re reclaiming the term cat lady with this one.


Who are you calling a hoarder? A cat lady may have one or two (or ten) cats running around her house, but there’s no way she considers herself someone who hoards cats.

Instead, she’s more of a bulwark (“protection, strong support”). She will keep those strays safe from harm and will provide support in times of need.


While the expression tomcat once referred to a man who is an avid “woman-chaser,” in the Cat Lady Dictionary we’re talking about something else entirely.

A tomcat also refers to a domestic male cat—one who may or may not be a frisky, female-crazy feline. The term first came about in the 1700s, possibly originating from Tom the Cat in the 1760 children’s book, The Life and Adventures of a Cat.


For the most part, cats are relatively quiet, but when they want to be fed or are in a catfight (or in heat, for that matter) they give off a toe-curling howl that can’t be ignored. This screech is called caterwauling and it’s been a part of feline terminology since the 1350s.

It seems that even centuries ago, cats let out that ear-piercing screech during the most inconvenient times—say, the middle of the night.


If you’re a real cat lover, chances are you know about CatCon. This convention (à la Comic-Con) is also eager to help “debunk” the crazy cat lady image by proving not just old spinsters enjoy the company of a four-legged feline. And, since starting in 2015, it has hosted more than 60,000 people attending each year and helped hundreds of cats find homes.

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Word of the Day

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Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day

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