Help! I Don’t Speak Cat!

Cat-speak, cat vocabulary, words about cats – take your pick. My very supportive and non-cat blog reading husband asked me for this post about all the different cat words or phrases that a non-cat person needs to know when reading a cat blog. Why? Well, let me tell you…

My husband – we’ll call him Ross (because that’s his name) – has been kind enough to proofread several of my posts and of course read the blog as posts go up. After the first couple posts that mentioned “foster fails,” he didn’t say anything. But as we were walking our dog one evening, we were discussing the blog, and…

Ross said, “I have a question for you.”

“Go ahead,” I prompted.

“It’s kind of weird. But why do people talk about their foster fails? It’s like they’re bragging.”

“Yeah, so what?” I responded. “They’re proud of them.”


Hmmm… at this point in the conversation, I figured we weren’t talking about the same thing. So, I asked him, “What do you think a foster fail is?”

And he whispered back, “You know… the cat died.”

“NO! A foster fail is when the foster parent ends up keeping the cat because they can’t part with it!”

“That’s a horrible name. You can see why I thought that, right? It’s the word FAIL!”

And that is when he requested that I make a list to clear up any other cat-speak that may need clarifying for the less-than-fanatical cat person.

To be honest, I’m still coming across words and phrases that are new to me as well. And that’s why I need your help! I’m going to keep a running list that will be housed on a yet-to-be-created Cat Terms page that I can link to on certain words that (my husband feels) need clarifying. But now I need to actually come up with said list. I would like to include actual cat terms – basics that a cat person may know, but perhaps a non-cat person would not. Terms like feral vs. stray, TNR, polydactyl, clowder, etc. But I want to have fun phrases and words as well, like foster fail (the impetus behind this post), cat loaf, MOL, EB, etc.

I’ve started off with a few fun ones below. Please feel free to comment away to let me know what I can add to my list for my future Cat Terms page. My husband thanks you.

Examples of cat phrases the non-cat person may not know

Cat Loaf (a.k.a baking a loaf) – When cats tuck their legs in, they resemble a loaf of bread.

Dexter allows for proper baking time.

Elevator Butt (a.k.a EB) – This was a new one to me and the perfect explanation can be found in this article here called EB Feline Condition—Nature or Nurture? It’s hilarious and truly had me going for a bit. It is a must-read. Thank you to Savannah’s Paw Tracks for sharing!

Foster Fail – When a foster parent fails in their duties and keeps their foster cat.

MOL – Meow out loud, you know, instead of laugh out loud.

Sophie and Olive
MOL as demonstrated by Sophie and Olive.

Making Biscuits (a.k.a. kneading dough, air biscuits) – The motion a cat makes with their paws that resembles kneading dough, very often on a soft surface or on their human’s lap or tummy. Or many times kneading will commence on a fellow kitty. Making biscuits is very common and most cats will do it for life. This demonstration video was made shortly after we found Sophie. Even as a kitten, she was a top-notch biscuit maker!

Please leave any cat terms or fun phrases in the comments that you think should be on my Cat Terms page (yet to be created).

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60 thoughts on “Help! I Don’t Speak Cat!

  1. Thanks! Good to know you aren’t talking about the same thing I am talking about when you use ‘air biscuits’. ;)

  2. MOL! Yep, us cats have a language all to ourselves! You’ve hit on some of the more well known ones. We’ll try to think of some others that you should add to your list.

  3. Haha, as a “Foster Fail” I got a good chuckle out of this post. Don’t forget jelly beans for their beautiful little pads on their paws.

    1. I had told my husband about a purrito before and he thought that was so funny. I need to get a good picture of that to help explain it. :-) I bet The Zoo Rescue has one! My cats wouldn’t stand for that.

  4. What a fun (and true) post! Would you believe it took me *forever* to figure out what MOL meant???

  5. It took me a long time to figure those out when I got started blogging. My problem now is when I write to non-bloggers and put MOL instead of LOL :)

  6. How about “airplane ears”, you know, when their ears go sideways and flat, mostly when they’re irritated or being teased. Another term I like is “shrimping”, when they’re all tightly curled up resembling a shrimp.

  7. There are at least 50 slightly different versions of “meow”. A talented Being can learn ahalf of them. We know many more Being werds than Beins know ours.

  8. POTP = Power of the Paw; stink eye; stinky goodness (canned food); noms (food); nommy (yummy)
    I’d never heard of EB, and I have several cats past and present who do this. What a fun project. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  9. OMC! Yes OMC not OMG. There are a million of them and I know several cat bloggers have made lists. Here are a a few I use. PTU refers to a cat carrier. UTB is under the bed. Burd-tv or Bird-tv is watching birds out the window. Nomming for eating. Horking, yakking for frowing up. Stabby Place for vet. Ladygardenectemy for being spayed. Cat bloggers have a vocabulary of our own. I’m still learning new ones.

  10. Your husband is correct that foster fail sounds like something terrible happened, but once one knows what the term means, it’s something to celebrate. Another furry has a good home.

  11. Yep, we added a Cat Dictionary to our menu fur this very reason. Altho it’s mostly fun terms and terms dat sissy used befur she went to heaven. Me has tried to start using more friendly human terms but will still add purr and fur and paw to words dat start with pr, fr, and pa. And of course da and dat is this and that. MOL Don’t furget OMC and WTC (oh my cat and what the cat).

    Luv ya’


    1. PeeEss: We have to mention dat bein’ in rescue, a furmer vet tech and big time cat lady and furmer foster mommy, mommy didn’t know what a foster fail was either. MOL

  12. OMC, your husband thought that foster fail meant the kitty didn’t live? How terrible and funny at the same time. We’re glad he’s going to have a translation tool. We have slowly trained the manpeep so that he speaks cat, but it takes time. Just assure husband that we’re laughing with him, not at him!

  13. This is so fun!! Last year, I started following cats on FB in earnest, and I have to say I was confused for a while. I didn’t understand what noms were, for example. I finally started catching on. I just recently learned cat loaf. I now use Caturday more than I use Saturday, and I use OMC a lot. I guess I would add frupping for throwing up. Mew for you.

  14. Pawsome post! We have learned to speak cat over time, because English isn’t our native language we had to use our head to overthink what the foreign cats meant by making biscuits…and loafs…MOL…The food is catlishes, maybe you can add that to your list, as it is one of the priorities for our bellies. Now we hardly speak anymore Dutch, we have been integrated purrfectly and I also gave myself an accent :D Grandpaw doesn’t understand a word of it either :D Pawkisses for a Happy Week ahead :) <3

  15. Oh I forgot to mention one I particularly like – “toe floof”. It’s the fluffy fur goodness between their toes. Some cats don’t have much toe floof but Mr Jack has tons! 😹

  16. Thank you for liking my post “Sully’s New Crochet Leash” on OUR RETIRED LIFE. You have a very interesting blog. I think I will stay and sniff around a bit.

    1. Yes, they can bake cat loaves! We say it all the time as in “Scout is baking a grumpy loaf on the couch” or Mr Jack is backing a Caturday loaf” lol

  17. I guess it’s a good thing Ross knows better now! Lol! There’s always lingo when it comes to us animal lovers… Especially in the B-Rat world! I am a massive cat lover and BRat lover… I’m just an outcast over here with my foreign language hehehe!

  18. I love, love, love this post!! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for in my next book about weird cat stuff. This would fall in the category of the weird stuff people do for the love of their cats – i.e., you have to create a special dictionary just so your husband can communicate with you and understand what you’re saying!!

  19. What a great idea! There are many cat speak words and I forget people don’t naturally know what they are and incorporate them into my everyday talking. It’s kind of fun to see the expressions on friend’s faces as I blather on in cat speak. LOL


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