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Cat Glossary

Glossary of Cat Terms:


Abscess: A localized collection of pus in part of the body, formed by tissue disintegration and surrounded by an inflamed area. In cats, these are commonly the result of bites or scratches occurring from fighting and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Abyssinian: An oriental shorthair with a distinctly ticked tawny coat.

Acinonyx: A genus of Felidae including only one species, the cheetah.

Acquired Immunity: Immunity obtained either from the development of antibodies in response to exposure to an antigen, as from vaccination or an attack of an infectious disease, or from the transmission of antibodies, as from mother to fetus through the placenta or the injection of antiserum. Results in resistance to further infection.

Acute Disease: An illness that manifests rapidly.

Acute Metritis: An infection of the uterus.

Advocate: To speak, plead, or argue in favor of, as in an animal advocate.

Agouti: In a Tabby cat, the color between the stripes.

Ailurophile: One who loves cats.

Ailurophobe: One who hates or fears cats.

Albino: A relatively rare, genetically recessive condition resulting in white hair and pink eyes.

Allele: One member of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.

Allergen: A substance, such as pollen or pet dander, that causes an allergy.

Allergy: An abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances, such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common indications of allergy may include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.

Alley Cat: A non-pedigree cat

Allopathic: A method of treating disease with remedies that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself.

Alter: To neuter or spay (an animal, such as a cat or a dog).

Alternative Veterinary Medicine: Treatment used to complement or supplement traditional veterinary practice, such as acupuncture and homeopathy.

American Bobtail: A relatively new and uncommon breed of cat most notable for its stubby “bobbed” tail about half the length of a normal cat’s tail. They come in both short or longhaired coats and can have any color of fur.

American Curl: A breed of cat with unusual ears that curl inwards like a crescent.

American Keuda Cat: A breed of cat currently under development with some pronounced similarities with the Egyptian Mau cat.

American Shorthair: A breed of cat with a hard, short, close-lying coat.

American Wirehair: A breed of cat with a medium-lengths coat with individual hairs that can be crimped, hooked or bent, lending it a wiry look.

Amino Acids: The component molecules of proteins.

Angora: A very new British cat breed that is an oriental longhaired cat.

Animal Protein: Dietary components derived from meat, fish, and animal products such as milk.

Animal Shelter: An organization which cares for strays and other homeless pets and seeks to find permanent homes for them.

Antibodies: A Y-shaped protein on the surface of B cells that is secreted into the blood or lymph in response to an antigenic stimulus, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite, or transplanted organ, and that neutralizes the antigen by binding specifically to it; an immunoglobulin.

Asthma: A chronic respiratory disease, often arising from allergies, that is characterized by sudden recurring attacks of labored breathing, chest constriction, and coughing.

Asymptomatic: Neither causing nor exhibiting symptoms of disease.

Australian Mist Cat: A breed of cat developed by crossing Burmese cats, Abyssinian cats and domestic shorthair cats, creating a shorthaired cat with a spotted coat.

Auto-immune disease: A disease resulting from an immune reaction produced by an individual’s white blood cells or antibodies acting on the body’s own tissues or extracellular proteins.

Awn Hairs: In a cat’s coat, the secondary hairs with a bristly texture and thickened tips.