George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Jan 13 15:29:20 UTC 2012

The OED has the following definition for "cattery":
 An establishment of cats.
1791    G. Huddesford *Monody Death Dick* in
* 133   Enshrin'd celestial Cateries among, the sable Matron.
1827    R. Southey *Select.
* (1856) IV. 171   All the royal Cattery of Cats' Eden.
*a*1843    R. Southey
* (1847) VII. 587   An evil fortune attended all our attempts at
re-establishing a Cattery.

No doubt this entry was composed when Queen Victoria was hobbling about the
Palace with a walker, and there's been no pressing need to revise it since.
 Still, the quotations are pretty baffling -- Zen, we would have said, 50
years ago.

Anyway, a current meaning of the word is an establishment where kittens are
bred for sale.  Perhaps this is what Southey had in mind?
There may be a distinction in current use between a cattery and a breeder,
in that only a breeder would be able to give a certificate that the parents
of the kitten were pure-bred and registered and that their nuptials were
properly conducted.  A cattery won't give this certificate and without one
the kitten will not be accepted by the Cat Lovers' Vatican as an authentic
representative of the breed.

I've been corresponding with catteries that sell "Siberian Forest Cats".
 If any of you have experience with this breed, I would like to know of it.
 Off-list, of course.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

The American Dialect Society -

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