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Is it a “pussy, puss puss or cat?

(24 Posts)
Gizmogranny Sun 19-May-19 10:52:59

About a year ago I told my 5 year old DGD (who is autistic and has ADHD) that I have two pussy cats. DGD did, on a few occasions, say pussy instead of cat. DD was horrified and read me the riot act. I made sure that since that telling off, the word “pussy” did not pass my lips and my cats are referred to as “cats”. Fast forward to yesterday when I received a text from DD telling me that DGD (who is 6 now) used the word “pussy” when referring to a cat soft toy. I have been asked again, not to use the word even though I haven’t seen DGD for months and have certainly not used the word at all. When I was a child our cat was a pussy cat. I used to call her in by saying “here puss puss”. Is the word so bad these days that it can’t be used for our cats? AIBU in thinking that my DD over reacted? Her argument is that DGD will get teased at school because no one calls a cat a pussy. Is it an English term, pussy for a cat? Do any GNs use the word? I’m intrigued to know.

tanith Sun 19-May-19 11:08:34

A few years ago there would be no problem with the word but I do see your daughters point about the teasing. Children are mean and nowadays more knowledgeable of other uses for what were innocent words. I can quite see others making fun of her, such a shame children’s innocence has been spoiled in my opinion.

Alima Sun 19-May-19 11:13:44

No, mine are all cats or sometimes puss. Someone I know refers to theirs as pussy, makes me cringe. (Do not like dogs referred to as doggie either, awful word). How long ago was “Are you Being Served” on, early 70s? Sounds such an out dated word now.

shysal Sun 19-May-19 11:14:20

It may be because these days a woman's pubic area is often referred to as a pussy, which could lead to teasing if your DGD uses the term. I do agree that your DD over reacted, but she is obviously trying to be protective.

Jane10 Sun 19-May-19 11:15:02

It certainly is a shame. Our old boy is referred to as, 'Puss', 'Puss Puss' or cat whichever seems alright at the time. Younger members of the family might snigger but I just look at them!
I can see that it's best for a wee girl with your DGD's problems that it's best not to call the poor puss 'Pussy' in public though.

Jane10 Sun 19-May-19 11:16:10

That area has been known as 'pussy' for centuries. It's nothing new!

callgirl1 Sun 19-May-19 11:42:51

I refer to Mia as a cat, but a strange cat that hangs around I call puss cat, but in an affectionate manner. I get the point though, being old enough to remember Mrs Slocombe`s pussy, but can remember before we married, back in the early 60s, playing a family game at MILs, called Poor Pussy, and nobody thought there was anything wrong with it.

Grandma70s Sun 19-May-19 11:43:41

I’ve wondered about this myself. It seems so sad if we can’t use the affectionate nickname for a cat. I still would, if I still had a cat.

Grandma70s Sun 19-May-19 11:47:53

I didn't get the Mrs Slocombe ‘joke’ when I was well grown up! I could tell there was some other meaning apart from cat, but I didn’t know the term, and when I found out I just thought it was really childish.

seacliff Sun 19-May-19 11:54:36

I get mixed up with my cats' names sometimes (we have 5), and just call "puss puss" out of the back door. Luckily we are quite remote.

I also sing old songs with my Ukulele group, and one word that was used quite a lot "gay" now also has another meaning, so wouldn't ever be used in the original context now.

Sadly I would not use the word puss or pussy to any youngsters now. Times have changed.

MamaCaz Sun 19-May-19 11:54:52

So should I stop reciting the nursery rhymes 'Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, where have you been?' and 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat' to my baby granddaughter?
They are among the many traditional rhymes that I have said to her without a second thought, just as I used to say them to my own children. sad

jura2 Sun 19-May-19 11:55:34

oh my, how ri di cu lous

Charleygirl5 Sun 19-May-19 11:57:13

I have never called Tara puss, it is usually by her name or one of her many pet names and that has never been one of them. If I wanted to talk about her it would be "my cat Tara".

Cherrytree59 Sun 19-May-19 12:14:16

Sad, but I will only say cat now infront of my little grandsons, as I am well aware that children's teasing that can quickly develope into bullying.

I hate the word doggy so will always say dog.

Cat and dog are nice short words for a baby to learn so why make them longer?

Grandma70s Sun 19-May-19 12:20:36

MamaCaz, I wouldn't stop the old rhymes. The Owl and the Pussycat is a classic that every child should know, and they shouldn’t be deprived of it because of some silly irrelevant prudery.

Eleanor21 Sun 19-May-19 12:25:39

As a small child I always referred to one grandmother as pussy cat nanny because she had cats. The other nanny had a dog. Times change!

grannyticktock Sun 19-May-19 12:32:36

I think Pussycat is still safe enough, it's just Pussy that is a bit risky now, and best avoided. It was ever thus: words for the genitalia change regularly as there is a steady need for new euphemisms. We have the same issue in our family with goose grass, which was used to call Sticky Willie. One set of my grandchildren still call it this, while the others say Sticky Weed.

I wouldn't want "puss"or "pussy" to lose their feline connections, as they come from a sound, a word, that cats respond to instinctively. Some other languages have a similar sounding word for "cat". If you meet a cat in the neighbourhood and greet it with "puss-puss!" , the cat.will respond to you.

MamaCaz Sun 19-May-19 12:42:43

I don't plan to stop, Grandma70s. Not unless specifically asked to by DS or DiL, anyway. ☺

Now the issue has been raised, I might ask them what they think, though. My gut reaction is that they will not mind if it is in the context of a traditional nursery rhyme, but probably wouldn't be too keen if I was to say pussy instead of cat in ordinary conversation. That's something I am very unlikely to do, as even when my own sons were little, I preferred to use the proper words for animals.

Now the stubborn part of me is kicking in - I like to keep some old words and expressions going , mainly for fun (my older DGC laugh each time I come out with another weird expression from my Yorkshire childhood), and I might now be tempted to go back to using pussycat for the same reason. Not pussy though.

Btw, we used to know someone called Pussy!

Grandma70s Sun 19-May-19 12:44:44

Dutch has ‘poesje’. It was in a Dutch pop song that I first came across the word used with double meaning. It was apparently a song about a cat, but implied it might mean more. My Dutch friend, who at 30 years old only knew it as in ‘pussycat’, had to ask her much younger brother if the word had another meaning, and he enlightened us. This was in the 1960s.

seacliff Sun 19-May-19 12:56:03

It's true, cats respond to "puss puss" - or is it our tone of voice?

I don't have grandchildren. If I did, I would still want to read them such lovely books as The Owl and the Pussycat etc. I am pretty sure it is still read in schools.

The only thing I would do different these days is avoid pussy and use cat, when teaching animal names to a very young child... purely to avoid them possibly being made fun of.

Eleanor21 Sun 19-May-19 13:01:23

Just listening to radio 4 and someone has said, ‘there are winkles as far as you can see, turned out they were on a beach’.
Well, it made me smile! What’s in a word, it’s all in the context.

grannyticktock Sun 19-May-19 14:05:18

I think it's the high-pitched "Psss" that cats respond to - it's probably a lot clearer to them than our normal growly speech.

ninathenana Sun 19-May-19 14:11:04

We rarely use Bertie's name.
Where is he ?
Yes, alright puss, I'll feed you in a minute.
I would never tell someone I have a puss or pussy though. I'd always say cat. DS2 has a speech impediment and when younger would say noony nat. Now it's Bert smile

Starlady Sun 19-May-19 14:20:47

Yes, Jane, the other meaning has been around a long time. But I think it's used more today and kids are aware of it younger and younger.

Gizmogranny, DD was foolish, IMO, to blame you for GD's recent use of the word "pussy" since you haven't even seen her for months. Probably GD remembered it from the past or just likes that word. Or maybe she heard someone else say it. IMO, DD was just expressing her frustration. But yes, I agree w/ the poster who said she's just trying to protect her child.

Meanwhile, I don't think anyone should stop reading classic nursery rhymes b/c of a change in word meanings or whatever. But if parents have ASKED a GP not to use this/that word, IMO, the GP needs to ask them, in return, if it's ok if they read nursery rhymes w/ that word. Chances are, they'll say "yes." But if they say "no," I'd avoid those rhymes.