What Is the Name for a Litter of Newborn Kittens?

by Jeff Katz, Demand Media
    There are a number of colorful terms used to describe a group of newborn kittens

    There are a number of colorful terms used to describe a group of newborn kittens

    A word used to describe a group is called a "collective noun." In the animal world, there are some pretty wild ones, such as "murder of crows" and "gaggle of geese." As it turns out, a collection of kittens can be described in a number of colorful ways!

    Litter

    In truth, the most common collective noun for a group of newborn kittens is "litter"! This term began as a reference to the many offspring produced by certain animals, such as pigs and cats, in a single birthing -- "littering" the bed with babies. The term also derived from the bedding prepared for animals about to give birth -- straw strewn on the floor of a barn was the "litter." Eventually, "litter" became the collective noun for piglets and kittens!

    Kindle

    Another collective term used for newborn kittens is "kindle." Today, the word "kindle" is associated most often with the electronic book reader produced by Amazon. However, for many years, particularly in the United Kingdom, "kindle" was used to describe a group of kittens. British author Rumer Godden, in fact, produced a children's book in 1978 titled "A Kindle of Kittens."

    Intrigue, Clowder and Brood

    Various sources, including the U.S. Geological Survey and Enchanted Learning, cite "intrigue" as another collective noun used to describe a litter of kittens. "Clowder," a relative of the word "clutter," is also a term that can be used in connection with kittens, although it is more common for a group of older cats to be referred to as a clowder -- a clowder of cats. "Brood," too, can be used to refer to a cat's offspring.

    Kaboodle

    A common misconception is that the word "kaboodle," an alternate spelling of the British term "caboodle," meaning "group" or "bunch," is linked to the word kitten by way of the term "kitten kaboodle." Many people believe that this term refers to a group of kittens. The correct term, though, is "kit and kaboodle," which can be used as a slang for "everything." Kitten Kaboodle was the name of a character in the comic strip, "Peanuts"!

    About the Author

    Jeff Katz has been a professional librarian, educator, historian, writer and editor for almost 20 years. He holds a Master of Library Science degree from the University of British Columbia and a BA degree in Classical Studies from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

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