Here, Pussy, Pussy, Pussy!
Pussy, Pussy, Pussy!
Here Pussy, Pussy, Pussy!
To a Cat there are no finer words, in any language, than those above...
Especially when spoken by a loving Human companion bearing food, or treats (Just be wary, though, because sometimes your reward for answering the call is a trip to the Vet, or the groomer, and I know that there are some of you, out there, who have serious "issues" with one, or both, not to mention the carrier you travel in to get there.).
Ok, now that I've got the attention of all the Felines, may I ask you all to let your loving Human have access to the screen, too?
You see, the rest of this essay is addressed to them, as well as the "Language Police", not to mention assorted Preverts who may come across it in a Google Search.
I will have something more to say to you, and Cat Bloggers of all varieties, at the end...
There once was a time, up until the last quarter of the previous century, when there was not a Human alive, male or female, who didn't love Cats, that was not ashamed to stand on their front or back porch, or in their yard, and joyfully yell the above at the top of their lungs, day or night.
(See below for Complete Text on Shirt!) You Adore Your Pussy, Admit it! You play with your pussy day and night. You stroke your pussy whenever the mood strikes you. You comb your pussy's hair and check for fleas once a month. You talk to your pussy. You buy things for your pussy at the drop of a hat. You brag about your pussy to anyone and everyone. You even show your pussy off to anyone and everyone as well. You then smile with pride and contentment when folks compliment you on your pussy. Some of you even have more than one pussy. Well, your pussy accepts all this with a sometimes soft, sometimes loud, and very contented Purrr... When it's not ignoring your attentions in the first place, that is! What? YOUR pussy doesn't Purr? To any latecommers, who may not have read the intro, or looked at the pictures, and just focused, with laser-like precision, on the P-word...Um, excuse me, Dearie, but just WHAT in the heck did you think I was talking about here? Huh? :-D I love little pussy, See, see! Even in 1830 you could find something about Pussy that was a little risque, if you are not paying attention. This was an early 19th century nursery rhyme telling a child how to treat his/her pets gently. ;-D
Her coat is so warm,
And if I don't hurt her,
She'll do me no harm.
So I'll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,
But pussy and I,
Very gently will play.
(See below for Complete Text on Shirt!)
You Adore Your Pussy, Admit it!
You play with your pussy day and night.
You stroke your pussy whenever the mood strikes you.
You comb your pussy's hair and check for fleas once a month.
You talk to your pussy.
You buy things for your pussy at the drop of a hat.
You brag about your pussy to anyone and everyone.
You even show your pussy off to anyone and everyone as well.
You then smile with pride and contentment when folks compliment you on your pussy.
Some of you even have more than one pussy.
Well, your pussy accepts all this with a sometimes soft, sometimes loud, and very contented Purrr...
When it's not ignoring your attentions in the first place, that is!
What? YOUR pussy doesn't Purr?
To any latecommers, who may not have read the intro, or looked at the pictures, and just focused, with laser-like precision, on the P-word...Um, excuse me, Dearie, but just WHAT in the heck did you think I was talking about here? Huh? :-D
I love little pussy,
See, see! Even in 1830 you could find something about Pussy that was a little risque, if you are not paying attention.
This was an early 19th century nursery rhyme telling a child how to treat his/her pets gently. ;-D
The history of a word:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, puss was used as a "call-name" for cats in both German and English, but pussy was used in English more as a synonym for "cat": compare "pussycat". In addition to cats, the word was also used for rabbits and hares as well as a humorous name for tigers. In the 19th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning was extended "in childish speech, applied to anything soft and furry", as in pussy willow.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories, which Daddy has on his bookshelf, the word, and its informal short version "Puss", goes back to the very early 16th century and before.
According to Wikipedia it wasn't until years later that the word began to be corrupted by the Vulgarians:
Philip Stubbs, an English pamphleteer, wrote in his 1583 book "The Anatomie of Abuses" that "the word pussie is now used of a woman".
In the Spring 2002 edition of VOICES, The Women's College Magazine of Santa Monica College, there is this from Aura Bogado:
How did the use of this word come about? Which came first, the vagina, the cat or the coward definition? And how are a vagina, a cat and a coward even related? How do we, as women, take the word back and redefine it to mean something strong?
I hardly hear people refer to cats as pussies anymore, but when I do, it makes me wonder, who associated a cat with a vagina or vice-versa? I know from a French friend of mine that "chat" means both cat and vagina in that language, as well. Can I assume, then, that it's a general Western trend to degrade women? Probably so.
Read the whole essay: Pussy This, Pussy That.
In 2003, in a wonderful essay in the Guardian of London, Justine Hankins writes:
There was a time when you could sing, "I love little pussy, her coat is so warm" without fear of innuendo. There was no pun intended when Edward Lear wrote, "O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are." Puss or pussy has been the nursery term for a cat since the early 16th century. For almost as long, of course, it has also been used to denote sexual intercourse, a woman and female genitalia. (It is safe to assume, for example, that the toast, "Here's a health to thee, to Pusse and to good company", recorded in 1664, was not a tribute to Tibbles.) But not everyone was familiar with tavern slang, and pussy remained a term of endearment for women, as well as cats, well into the 19th century.
As she says, nowadays you can't stroke your Pussy without double entendre.
She wonders "why is it that so many animal names have double, often derogatory, meanings?"
Read the full essay: Don't be so Beastly!
In 1901, the NY Times wrote a wonderful review of what has to be one of the earliest books on the History of Cats, and you can read the PDF version for free!
Google Books allows you to read the section on the Domestic Cat from The Illustrated Natural History by John George Wood, from 1865, which uses the word several times on page 198! ;-D
Also on Google Books is a section of A History of Nursery Rhymes by Percy B. Green, from 1899, that uses the word several times in discussing Cat Poetry, on pages 112 -115! ;-D
That is truly sad, if you ask me, especially because they have such a passion about, and love for, all us critters in the Animal Kingdom.
She also suggests that "Perhaps animals should start reclaiming the language."
Daddy used to have a T-Shirt that said "Real Men Admit They Love Cats".
He also says: "Cat Lovers should not be afraid to use the word "Pussy" when talking about their Animal Companion(s)!"
I couldn't agree more...with Justine...and Daddy. ;-D
So I was in total support when Daddy made his T-Shirt, and made me a "Business Card", both of which feature the word PUSSY prominently.
On the day Daddy had his shirt made a 50ish lady in the store recoiled in horror, despite Daddy explaining the point.
2 Hours later, a 20ish young lady, behind the counter at Starbucks, laughed when shown the shirt, understood the message, knew what a blog was, and was genuinely interested in the notion of Cat, Dog, Bird, Ferret, and other critter blogging.
Today Daddy wore the shirt in public, for the first time, on his travels to pay bills, and stop off at Petsmart.
ASK ME ABOUT MY PUSSY!
Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat
I wished him luck, glad he has medical insurance to cover any unforeseen occurances, um, hee, hee! ;-D
The ladies he encountered at the UPS Store, loved it.
One of them, old enough to be his Mother, had an initial startled reaction, then laughed in understanding when all was explained, and took my card to show her daughter who she said would be interested in my blog.
In a Target Daddy wandered to the Pet section, and passed out the card to a young Hispanic lady he met there.
At Petsmart he had a nice chat with the Science Diet Rep, named Brooke, who was not aware of Cat Blogs, and was very amused by the shirt, and accepted one of my cards when offered.
Daddy chatted with her about why an 8 1/2 lb. bag of Sci-Di cost $26, and a 17-20 lb. bag cost only $27 to $30.
The way she explained it shows yet one more example of how Humans can sometimes behave in such odd ways...
Apparently some Humans prefer the smaller size bags of Premium Food, over the bigger bags, even though they'd get twice as much kibble for just a few dollars more, or the same price, if they had a $3 off coupon like the one she gave to Daddy!
Bizarre! With the coupon Daddy got a 20 lb. bag, normally $29, for $26! ;-D
Over 5 hours Daddy rode 7 busses, went to 6 stores, got lots of curious looks, entered into interesting conversations, and lived to tell me all about it!
Not a scratch! ;-D
This is the 3rd variation of this essay that I've written.
The first was years ago, when I was still pretty much unaware of the extent of our blog community, then in its infancy.
The part after the "Adore" section came in 2007, after I did the research to find others as interested in the topic as me.
The intro, this time, is new, as are the 2 pictures and, of course, the report about Daddy to bring the essay to a close.
In the past, reactions were passionate, for and against what I wrote, though small in number, and the Preverts, performing their Google Searches by the hundreds, over the years, fled in embarrassed mortification, I'm sure. ;-D
It is my hope that, with a vibrant, mature, and intelligent, Cat Blogosphere I can encourage others, Feline, and Human, to write their own thoughts on this essay, and how to approach the use of this word, and all its spellings (Pussy, Pussies, Pussys, Pussy's).
If you write such a blog post, linking to this one, send me an e-mail (See my sidebar for the address), leave a comment, with the URL of your post, or do a Trackback.
If I get enough such essays I will do a follow-up post spreading the word about Community response, and update it as warranted, and mention it when I host a Carnival.
1. Dear PETA, May I Have a Word? - A dialog from Jan. 13th to Jan. 26th, 2010.
2. Dear Gazette Newspapers: May I Have a Word? - A dialog from June 22nd to July 5th, 2010.
3. Dear National Organization For Women: May I Have a Word? - Sent Dec. 19, 2010. As yet there has been no response. ;-D