Wildlife of Cascadia

Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Puss-Puss

PUSS-PUSS

[puss'-puss] general, [pish'-pish] Puget Sound — noun.

Meaning: A cat. Also used for cougar, lynx, bobcat, etc.

Origin: English, An informal term of address for a cat. From a common Germanic word for cat, perhaps ultimately imitative of a sound made to get its attention.

While the term for a house cat in ‘standard’ Chinook Wawa was “puss-puss”, occasionally it was shortened to just “pus”, while in some localities along the Puget Sound region it was pronounced “pish-pish”. A young kat was called a “tenas puss-puss” (kitten; kittycat), while "hyas puss-puss" (a cougar; big cat) was used for the mountain lion (Puma concolor couguar), and was even used on the Canadian comedy-drama television series ‘The Beachcombers’. This term could be conceivably used for a lynx or a bobcat, but probably in the context of a large one.

It is worth noting that the St'at'imcets and Nlaka'pamux First Nations of British Columbia used their own word for cougar, “swaawa”.