We’ve all heard of a herd of cows or a pack of dogs, and you might even be familiar with some of the more unusual nicknames for groups of animals such as a parliament of owls or a murder of crows.
But do you know what the term is for a group of cats? Well, the answer is a clowder. Yes, that’s right, a group of cats is called a clowder (sounds like “chowder”).
A group of three or more cats is most commonly called a clowder. Depending on the context, several other terms are used to describe a group of cats, including a glaring, a colony, or a litter. Cats are naturally solitary animals, even when found in groups, something that's important to bear in mind if you have a multi-cat household.
A group of three or more cats is most commonly called a clowder.
Depending on the context, several other terms are used to describe a group of cats, including a glaring, a colony, or a litter.
Cats are naturally solitary animals, even when found in groups, something that's important to bear in mind if you have a multi-cat household.
Where Does ‘Clowder’ Come From?
The history and origin of words are referred to as etymology. According to Wiktionary.org, the word “clowder” was first used in 1801 and originates from the word “clutter,” which itself originates from the word “clot.” In Old English, this was “clott,” which means “round mass or lump.” So, the word “clowder” has evolved over hundreds of years, although it still isn’t used commonly today.
When you think of a large group of cats together, it’s easy to see why they might be referred to as a clutter or even a lump!
How Many Cats Does It Take To Make A Clowder?
Three or more cats can be termed a clowder. Like most groups of two animals, two cats are referred to as a pair and a single cat is just a cat.
What Other Names Are Given To Groups Of Cats?
The word glaring can be used to describe a group of cats that don’t know each other well. This doesn’t happen often and so the term glaring is rarely used, but it could be used to describe a group of stray or feral cats that are crowding together around a food source but are not actually part of the same colony. This leads us to our next term …
A group of feral cats living in the same place is referred to as a colony. These groups of cats are often related and can quickly become very large as cats continue to breed and produce kittens, which themselves then breed and produce more offspring. And so, the cycle continues and the colony can expand rapidly.
Although these family groups share a territory and sometimes food, cats are far more solitary than dogs and will hunt independently of one another. Most feral cat colonies are primarily made up of female cats and their kittens and so can be described as “matrilinear.” Male cats have a much larger territory than females and will often move in and out of different cat colonies. This helps to reduce inter-breeding, although to some extent this does occur within feral colonies.
Some cats will form close relationships with other cats in the colony, particularly kittens from the same litter, whereas other cats within the colony will not interact at all. As a result, there is no hierarchy in a feral cat colony like there is with a pack of dogs.
A litter is the term most commonly used to describe a group of kittens born to a female cat. Some strict definitions of the word litter require the same father for the entire litter, but female cats are capable of producing a litter of kittens that could have different fathers. This is because female cats are “induced ovulators,” which means that the act of mating causes the ovaries to release eggs.
If a female cat mates with more than one male during a heat cycle, different eggs are fertilized by different males which means that kittens from the same litter can have different fathers. This is called superfecundation.
Although rarely used, this is another term that can describe a group of young kittens from a single mother cat. Kindle comes from the Middle English word “kindelen,” which means “to give birth to young.” It can also be used to describe the act of a mother cat giving birth, in other words, a female cat “kindles” and produces a kindle of kittens.
Also Read: Cat Giving Birth: What You Need To Know?
Other Less Common Names Given To Groups Of Cats
You might occasionally hear other terms given to describe a group of cats depending on the context of the situation. These include:
- Destruction: A group of wild cats (that are often aggressively territorial)
- Dout: A group of feral or wild cats (not used to describe domestic cats)
- Pounce: An uncommon term used to describe a group of cats
- Nuisance: Particularly used to describe nuisance feral cat colonies
- Clutter or cluster: Rarely used to describe a group of cats
What About Big Cats?
Big cats have their own nicknames to describe a group of them:
- A leap of leopards
- A coalition of cheetahs
- A jamboree of jaguars
- A pride, a troop, a salut, or a sowse of lions
- A streak, an ambush, or a hide of tigers
Domestic Cat Groups
As we’ve already learned, cats are generally solitary animals. Cats that live within the same household can form close bonds with one another, particularly if they are siblings, but often cats just learn to tolerate living with another cat. Sometimes cats can take a real dislike to another cat and this can be a major source of stress within a household, both for the cats and their owner.
In multi-cat households, it’s important to remember that each cat needs their own space and their own resources. Even in cat colonies, cats will still hunt and eat alone, so try and feed your cats in separate areas to reduce stress at feeding times. The golden rule for litter boxes is a minimum of one litter box per cat plus one extra, placed in different locations around the house.
It can be difficult to introduce a new cat into the household so always do this slowly and gradually and begin by keeping the new cat confined to a room on its own. Gradually mix scents of different cats by introducing bedding or toys from another cat. When you finally allow the cats to meet, ensure they all have a means of escape and supervise initial introductions very carefully.
If you have a less-than-harmonious clowder of cats in your house, then consult a veterinarian for further advice. They might offer to refer you to a cat behaviorist to help restore the peace and reduce stress for all involved.
Now you know that the technical term for a group of cats is a clowder, but they can also have different nicknames depending on the context. Here’s a quick reminder of when to use each term:
- Glaring: A group of cats that do not know each other well, usually feral
- Colony: A group of feral or stray cats living in the same area
- Destruction or dowt: A group of wild cats
- Litter or kindle: A group of kittens
Most of these terms are rarely used but you never know when you might be able to impress someone by using the correct term for a group of cats or knowing the answer to a pub quiz question!
Also Read: 15 Little-Known Facts About Big Cats
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are cats called a clowder?
Clowder originates from the word "clutter" or "clot," which refers to things that lie around, or a round mass. A group of cats can look like a clutter or a rounded mass!
What’s a group of feral cats called?
A group of feral cats that share the same living area is called a colony. They are often family groups of mother cats and their kittens. A group of feral cats that are not from the same colony is called a glaring.
Is a group of cats called a pride?
A pride refers to a group of lions.
How many is a glaring of cats?
Three or more cats that do not know each other can be called a glaring. Groups of cats that know each other and live together are called a clowder.