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The 1950's song Fever (covered, among others, by Elvis Presley) contains the following lines:

Now you've listened to my story
Here's the point that I have made
Cats were born to give chicks fever
Be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade
They give you fever when you kiss them
Fever if you live and learn
Fever till you sizzle
What a lovely way to burn

How normal is it nowadays to refer to guys as cats, and where does it come from?

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Even amongst [jazz] musicians, I doubt you'd hear "cat" very often these days. Certainly not likely to be used by the under-50s. – FumbleFingers Aug 21 '11 at 17:57
up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to etymnonline:

Slang sense of "fellow, guy," is from 1920, originally in U.S. Black Eng.; narrower sense of "jazz enthusiast" is recorded from 1931.

Today, you generally do not hear the term used when referring to a man. Guy, dude, bro, man, buddy and pal are more commonplace today.

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This answer makes you one cool cat. – Jeremy Aug 21 '11 at 13:19
Cool cat, looking for a kitty. – Hackworth Aug 21 '11 at 13:25
Can you call a female jazz enthusiast a cool cat? – GEdgar Aug 21 '11 at 13:40
@GEdgar: I suppose you could, though I'd think "cool chick" would be more commonplace. – RGW1976 Aug 21 '11 at 13:47
Yes, you can call a female jazz enthusiast a cool cat. I've played in jazz ensembles and the 'old school' guys refer to EVERYONE as a 'cat'. – Darwy Aug 21 '11 at 18:44

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