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A Victorian-Era Cat Dictionary

In 1895, Marvin R. Clark published the essential cat dictionary, called Pussy and Her Language. The 150-page guide is full of cat facts, stories, and fanciful prose about felines, in an era when cats didn't get all that much respect. You can learn a lot from this book, about cats or, more precisely, about how Clark felt about cats.

11. There are 17 vital cat vocabulary words

12. Cats have French accents

“The word ‘purrieu’… is a note of self-satisfaction and content… give attention to the number of vowels and the Frenchman’s roll of the liquid ‘r,’ so that it comes to the ear like ‘pur-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rieu,’ with a gradually ascending inflection.”

13. Cats can get very mad

“The word ‘yew,’ when uttered as an explosive, is the Cat’s strongest expression of hatred, and a declaration of war… The word ‘yow’ means extermination from the face of the earth.”

Atlas Obscura selected the twenty most interesting lessons about cat communication from Pussy and Her Language. You can also read the entire book online.

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