Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Russian when we want to call up a cat we say ks-ks-ks. What is the usual way to call it up in English?

share|improve this question
12  
Are you trying to find out whether your cat speaks English? Or did you buy a British or American cat that won't come when it's called in Russian? My advice is, forget language altogether. Just open a can of cat food. Your cat will come. –  Robusto Mar 20 '11 at 15:10
1  
You are right, I've got a British cat and I want to speak to it in its language :) But I'm really interested in how you call up cats. –  Edwin Ross Mar 20 '11 at 15:13
    
I usually call a cat by its name. I know what you are going to ask: and if you didn't give a name to the cat? –  kiamlaluno Mar 20 '11 at 15:39
2  
I think you are wasting your time. The cat will come as soon as it pleases, and not before. –  Brian Hooper Mar 20 '11 at 18:44
1  
@Brian Hooper, let me assure you that you are wrong. –  Edwin Ross Mar 20 '11 at 18:52

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A high-pitched here kitty-kitty is very common.

share|improve this answer
3  
There’s another way that’s fairly common (at least in parts of the UK): a sound made by sucking in air through pursed lips. I don’t know of any common name for it, though, or way to transcribe it in writing. I’ve also heard it used, more rarely, to attract small birds (in the wild). –  PLL Mar 20 '11 at 16:03
    
Thank you Callithumpian and PLL, it is really interesting. –  Edwin Ross Mar 20 '11 at 16:07
    
@PLL Is it a kind of whistling sound? (As a somewhat random point of reference, when I learn to whistle as child (as in "whistle a tune"), I first learned to do so by sucking in air as opposed to blowing it out.) But it is very easy to produce bird-like sounds this way. –  jbelacqua Mar 20 '11 at 19:28

In keeping with @Robusto's comment on opening a can of cat food, the most reliable way to get our recalcitrant kitteh to return to the house is to say the cat's name (or a familiar diminutive thereof), followed with "cheese!" in a high-pitched voice. Kitties seem to love high-pitched voices mentioning food. The "cheese" vocalization is in fact an offer of food -- sometimes literally a tiny piece of cheese, sometimes actual "cat food". Imagine a trained dolphin receiving a fish after performing a trick, and you will have imagined a situation which is not completely unlike this one. This trick also works for our other cat who was not brought up with cheese as either an offer or a reward. I think it's the high-pitched voice, with the likely reward of food that does it.

share|improve this answer

Puss-puss (or other variations, e.g. here puss, etc) is also common in some parts.

share|improve this answer

(reprise...) I know at least one person who attracts his cat by making the sound we generally write as tsk-tsk or tut-tut. That's the clicking sound made by pressing tip of tongue to roof of mouth, then releasing it sharply to draw air inwards (again, with throat closed). Drifting slightly off-topic, I've long been fascinated by the corresponding "non-vocalised" sound made using the side of the tongue, which has particularly strong associations with horses (i.e. - it means "giddy-up, horse!")

share|improve this answer
1  
Thank you, I did not even think there could be so many variants of calling up a cat. I will try them all ^..^____? –  Edwin Ross Mar 20 '11 at 18:54
1  
Horse, lateral click; cat, palatal click; girlfriend, something like a bilabial click. (Mwah!) –  Jon Purdy Mar 20 '11 at 21:10
    
I think this is called a dental click: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_clicks –  Mitch Mar 20 '11 at 22:42

Whilst it's not uncommon, I think here kitty kitty is a bit twee & self-concious. The most common sound I hear people making is a sort of "squeak" produced by placing the bottom teeth loosely against top lip and drawing air inwards across the gap by moving the tongue backwards (with throat closed). I know at least a couple of people who call this non-vocalised sound a "tweet".

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.