A group of deer is called a herd. A group of ravens is called a murder. But what is a group of cats called? When you’re talking about three or more cats, is it a herd? A cluster? A flock? What about Clowder?
What is a Group of Cats Called? The Correct Term
In fact, a group of cats is actually called a clowder, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. And if you’re referring to multiple groups of cats? Those are clowders. (Pronounced like “chowder.”)
While “clowder” is the most commonly used term for groups of cats, there are a few other terms that have been used to describe three or more felines:
- Cluster of cats
- Clutter of cats
- Destruction of cats
- Dout of cats
- Glaring of cats
- Nuisance of cats
- Pounce of cats
Plus, if you’re referring to kittens or young cats, you can use the traditional “litter of cats” terminology.
Today, we’ll focus on the term “cluster,” and how that came about.
The Origin of a Clowder of Cats
“Clowder” isn’t really the first thing that you’d think of to describe cats, so how exactly did the term come about?
According to Dictionary.com, Clowder originates from the term, “clodder.” Clodder is a Middle English term that originated in the late 1700s, and was used to describe a “clotted mass.” The term evolved over the years to the current “clowder.”
Using the Term
So, now that you know what to call a group of cats, how should you use the word “clowder?” Chances are that if you throw “clowder” into everyday conversation, your friends aren’t going to have any idea what you’re talking about. It’s not used frequently, but if you’re doing some scientific writing, the term could come in handy. It will also make for a great trivia question.
What to Know About The Cat Animal Group Names
How common are groups of cats, anyway? The answer depends on whether the cats are domestic and living in your home, or if they’re feral or strays living in the wild.
When in your home, cats probably won’t make up large groups unless you happen to own a lot of them. Cats are pretty solitary by nature, but some cats do form strong bonds with each other and choose to sleep, play, and even eat together.
Whether or not your housecats form groups will depend on the number of cats you have, the amount of space in your home, and the individual personalities and preferences of the cats. Some cats will simply tolerate each other, while others can become great buddies.
Things are a bit different when you’re talking about cats in the wild. Traditionally, cats don’t live together in groups, but cats living in the wild may form groups of varying size depending on factors such as the availability of food and the cats’ living situations.
The most common type of group of wild cats that occurs is a feral cat colony. These colonies occur when small groups of females and kittens develop and start to cooperate in order to survive. Though the groups of cats live together, they continue to hunt individually and don’t act like a pack of dogs do.
There’s a complex set of relationships in each cat colony, but the cats don’t create a hierarchy like you would see in herds of horses or in packs of dogs. Some cats in a colony will share close relationships but have much more distanced relationships with other members of that same colony.
Essentially, the cats adapt by forming a social group, but hunting – the activity that’s key to their survival – remains an activity that they only perform alone.
Feral cat colonies work well when the cats don’t have to compete over food, and when they are familiar with each other. Kittens in the same litter may bond closely, and more than one female may nurse kittens in feral colonies.
When it comes to male feral cats, you won’t usually find them within the smaller cat colonies. Instead, males don’t become an integral member of any one group and instead may move in and out of several cat colonies in the same general area. Males usually have a larger territory than females do.
Domestic Cat Relationships
As mentioned above, in multi-cat households, you may find that some cats form strong bonds with each other. While cats’ ancestors were highly solitary, many cats today do just great with other cats in the home. Domestic cats today tend to be more social than their ancestors.
In a multi-cat household, your cats will follow a complex hierarchy. According to studies, cats develop particular buddies that they prefer over others, and cats can become strongly bonded pairs. This is why you’ll sometimes see animal rescues specifying that two cats are bonded and must be adopted together.
In order to establish their hierarchy, cats will rub against each other – and you – to mingle their scent with yours. When a cat rubs against another cat, they’re demonstrating that the other cat ranks higher in the hierarchy.
The more often that a cat is rubbed against by another cat, the higher in the hierarchy that particular cat ranks. You can observe this behavior to get a sense of who’s in charge in your household.
When new cats are introduced to the group, it disrupts that existing hierarchy. This is when fights can occur, and cats may demonstrate different behavior patterns. If a cat dies, this also makes a shift in the hierarchy, and another cat will usually step up into that cat’s behavior patterns.
Keeping the Peace in Your Clowder of Cats
In order to keep your household group of cats peaceful, it’s advisable to feed cats in separate areas of the home. Remember that even in the wild, cat colonies hunt (and eat) alone. Your housecat will have the same instinct, so putting food dishes together can make for unnecessary stress at mealtime.
Remember that your cats have formed their own hierarchy, so if you need to introduce a new cat to the home, do so carefully and gradually. Keep the new cat separated in a room of its own, and gradually allow the other cats to make introductions under the door.
Each cat will need their own food and litter box area, as well as plenty of time to get to know each other with careful supervision, especially at first. Cat-proofing your house is as important as baby proofing.
If you ever run into trouble or have questions about your clowder of cats, be sure to consult your vet or a feline behaviorist.
Lindsay Engle is the pet expert at MedicareFAQ, a healthcare learning resource center for seniors. Lindsay loves working in the senior healthcare industry and writing about the many benefits pets offer our elders. Aside from her job, she has a great passion for animals and loves boating. In her spare time, she enjoys snuggling on the couch with her pets as well as fishing with her boyfriend.