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Why is a cat called a cat?:

The English word "cat" is very similar to the word used for our feline pets in other languages spoken in Europe, around the Mediterranean, and indeed, other locations. The table below lists the word for cat and the language:

KatDutch
chatFrench
KatzeGerman
gattaGreek
kotturIcelandic
gattoItalian
qattusMaltese
kattNorwegian
kotPolish
gatoSpanish
kattSwedish
kuskaqYupik (an Eskimo language)

Clearly "cat" is an ancient word that spread into many regions possibly from a single source. The source for Europe and the Med (at least) appears to be Arabic because the oldest use of "cat" in that region is in North Africa where the term is "quttah".

A few other terms relating to cats originate from the Mediterranean. One is the word "tabby", which is derived from the Turkish word "utabi". And the general word for a cat in Turkey is "kedi", which may be the ancestor term for the English word "kitty".

Source: Catlore, by Desmond Morris, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1987, p. 175.