Synonymous with a “litter,” what is the lesser-used term for a family of kittens?

And the answer: a kindle.
Photo credit: Central Midfielder

While most are familiar with the term “litter” to describe a group of kittens, describing them as a “kindle” is just as accurate! A group of adult cats is called a “clowder.”

Gather your clowders and kindles—today is International Cat Day! Thanks to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, cats have had their own holiday since 2002. While the holiday may be relatively new, our adored felines have been celebrated for thousands of years. In fact, the first references to domesticated cats can be found in ancient Egyptian culture, where cats were seen as deities.    

So just when did a “clowder” come to be? Well, in the longstanding, surprisingly unscientific practice of naming groups of animals, it turns out that anything goes. While some group titles are common to everyday speech, such as a “herd” of bison, a “pack” of wolves, or a “school” of fish, some species have more obscure group names. Interestingly, though, some of the strangest names (think: a “murder” of crows) exist due to visual or cultural associations. For example, a “murder” was a poetic term used in 15th-century English literature. Some superstitions held that crows were bad omens, thus the bird earned an association with the dark term, “murder.”

As for a group of cats, there have actually been quite a number of terms applied to them throughout the centuries. For one, a “clodder” is a Middle English term that originated in the late 1700s, and was used to describe a “clotted mass.” Eventually, the term evolved over the years to its current “clowder.” Other group titles include a “cluster,” a “clutter,” a “destruction,” a “dout,” a “glaring,” a “nuisance,” and a “pounce” of cats.

So—just how wild do these names get? Test your knowledge with the following list of animal group names:

  1. A “gang” or an “obstinacy” of buffalo. The buffalo takes its time crossing the Great Plains, earning its apt title of “obstinate,” or stubborn.
  2. A “business” of ferrets. Because they’re on the job.
  3. A “bloat” or a “thunder” of hippopotami. Onomatopoeic, is it not?
  4. A “parliament” of owls. For their wise, stoic nature.
  5. And finally: An “unkindness” of ravens. Not a very kind name at all!

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