GLOSSARY OF BASIC CAT TERMS
These are the cat welfare/rescue/care terms I am most often asked to define because they are not common in all countries. A specialist genetics glossary is included as part of genetics articles on the Messybeast website.
Alter - neuter (applies to either gender)
Boar Cat- an old term for an unneutered male cat (tom cat).
Caregiver - person responsible for a pet cat or for a feral colony; these days the term "owner" suffers from political incorrectness.
Castrate - to remove the testes (neutering of male cats).
Cat Collector - person who acquires and hoards great numbers of cats but does not provide proper care. They are unaware of their own shortcomings or the distress they cause to the cats they acquire. It is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Cat Hoarder - another term, possibly a better one, for a cat collector.
Desex - neuter (applies to either gender)
Domestic - an animal which has become adapted to humans over many generations, has a genetic predisposition to tameness.
Entire - unneutered, undesexed, unaltered.
Ex-Feral - a feral cat which has been tamed and which now lives as a pet.
Feral - an ex-domestic cat which has reverted to being fully wild or the wild-born (never known domesticity) offspring of stray cats.
Feral-Domestic Hybrid - a misleading term which should really be changed. It means a hybrid between a wild cat species and a domestic cat. Strictly speaking it should be wild-domestic hybrid because a feral cat is not a wild species, it is a domestic cat gone wild.
Full Tom - unneutered male cat; this term is used to distinguish intact males from neutered males now that the term "gib" has largely fallen into disuse.
Gib - a castrated male cat; most people use the term "a neuter" instead.
Guardian - another "politically correct" term for a pet cat's owner or a feral cat's caregiver.
Half-pedigree - a term only used by owners; means a cat with one pedigree parent. In true terms, a half-pedigree cat is still a moggy since a cat either is a pedigree cat or is not one, there are no half-measures. Often used when selling accidentally bred kittens as it sounds more attractive than moggy. Some individuals deliberately breed half-pedigree cats for the pet market.
Household Pet - in cat show terms, any cat which is not registered for breeding or exhibition in a breed category; may be random-bred, purebred (unregistered) or pedigree. There are household pet classes in many cat shows, but most are dominated by pedigree cats or pedigree look-alike cats; only a few shows have classes for genuine random-bred household pet cats.
Hybrid - a cross between two different breeds e.g. Persian and Himalayan (outcrossing) or two different subspecies e.g. Siberian tiger and Bengal tiger (intra-specific hybrid) or two different species e.g. lion and tiger (inter-specific hybrid)
Inbreeding - mating together closely related cats (sibling/sibling, mother/son, father/daughter) to strengthen desirable traits.
Intact - unneutered, undesexed, unaltered.
Kitten - a young cat. Some cat regulatory bodies define a kitten as a cat below a particular age; this is for the purposes of cat show categories. The popular definition of when a kitten becomes an adult is based on when it reaches full size and sexual maturity (5 - 6 months of age).
Moggy (Moggie) - mixed breed, cross-bred or random bred cat, one which is not pedigreed or purebred.
Moggy Breeder - a misguided person who deliberately (irresponsibly) breeds random-bred kittens purely for sale (or to supply pet shops); this person either does not believe in neutering or is simply trying to make money. Unlike the pedigree or purebred breeder they are not attempting to develop or perpetuate a particular "look". Moggy breeders contribute greatly to the overpopulation problem by depriving other (accidentally bred) kittens of homes or by offloading their surplus animals onto shelters.
Mutt-Cat - mixed breed, cross-bred or random bred cat, not pedigreed or purebred.
Neuter (noun) - a castrated tom cat or (less usually) a spayed female cat; vets often use the terms "male neuter" and "female neuter".
Neuter (verb) - to surgically render sterile; applies to males and females but is usually used as euphemism for castration.
Outbreeding - mating unrelated individuals to improve type or vigour.
Outcrossing - mating a pedigree cat of one breed to a cat of a different breed/type in order to strengthen/improve the breed or introduce new traits.
Pedigree - belonging to a particular breed and having a family tree registered with the breed regulatory body. A pedigree cat is not necessarily purebred since some breeds have allowable outcrosses (e.g. can be crossed to certain other breeds to improve characteristics). Some purebreds are bred for a subset of traits within a breed e.g. for their colour and the term indicates that they have not been crossed to same breed cats which are a different colour..
Purebred - having only individuals of the same breed in its family tree; no outcrossings; not all purebreds have pedigrees, some purebreds are unregistered or the variety is not a recognised breed.
Ram Cat- an old term for an unneutered male cat (tom cat).
Queen - an unspayed female cat. Also spelled quean.
Semi-Feral - a non-domestic cat which lives in close proximity to humans and which is accustomed to human presence while remaining wild e.g. a farm cat or barn cat.
Spay (noun) - a spayed female cat; a female neuter. Also spelled spey.
Spay (verb) - to remove the ovaries and womb (ovario-hysterectomy).
Sterilise - neuter (either gender).
Stray - a domestic (tame) cat with no home or owner.
Tame - tamed in its own lifetime, but born wild.
Teaser Tom - a vasectomised male cat; a teaser tom is sterile but behaves like a full tom and will spray, fight and mate.
Tom - a male cat, particularly an uncastrated male cat; also called a "full tom".
Unowned - an ownerless cat; a stray.
Vasectomise - to snip the vas deferentia, but leave testes intact; the cat behaves like a full tom, but cannot make a female pregnant.
Wild - often used to denote a feral cat; a wild cat is strictly a member of a non-domestic species e.g. European Wildcat, Jungle Cat etc.