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?

  • 1
    Even amongst [jazz] musicians, I doubt you'd hear "cat" very often these days. Certainly not likely to be used by the under-50s. Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 17:57
  • I thought cats meant as women, and to teach each other.
    – Big Cat
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 2
    This answer makes you one cool cat.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 13:19
  • Cool cat, looking for a kitty.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 13:25
  • Can you call a female jazz enthusiast a cool cat?
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 13:40
  • @GEdgar: I suppose you could, though I'd think "cool chick" would be more commonplace.
    – RGW1976
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 13:47
  • 2
    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
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 18:44

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