I need an explanation of the poem "Cat!" by Eleanor Farjeon.Cat!Atter her, atter her,Sleeky flatterer,Spitfire chatterer,Scatter her, scatter herWuff!Wuff!Treat her rough!Git her, git her,Whiskery...

I need an explanation of the poem "Cat!" by Eleanor Farjeon.

Cat!
Atter her, atter her,
Sleeky flatterer,
Spitfire chatterer,
Scatter her, scatter her

Wuff!
Wuff!
Treat her rough!
Git her, git her,
Whiskery spitter!
Catch her, catch her,
Green-eyed scratcher!
Slathery
Slithery
Hisser,
Don't miss her!
Run till you're dithery,
Hithery
Thithery
Pfitts! pfitts!
How she spits!
Spitch! Spatch!
Can't she scratch!
Scritching the bark
Of the sycamore-tree,
She's reached her ark
And's hissing at me
Pfitts!Pfitts!
Wuff! Wuff!
Scat,
Cat!
That's
That!

Asked on by treksh

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Step one in understanding "Cat!" is to find out what "atter" means! According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary available at Dictionary.com, the word "atter" refers to poison or venom other corrupt biological matter. If you combine this information with the last five lines of the poem,

Wuff! Wuff!
Scat,
Cat!
That's
That!

things begin to make a bit of sense. Instead of a human speaker, the poetic voice is that of what is accustomed to articulating "Wuff! Wuff!"--a dog. So "Cat!" is the reaction and experience of a dog encountering a cat.

The first stanza describes the dog's opinion of the cat, which is that it is poisonous venom--not a good opinion, at all. Line 4 clearly states what the dog wishes to accomplish in this encounter: "Scatter her! Scatter her!" Again, not good for the cat. The next 6 lines describe the dog's efforts in the chase culminating in "Catch her, catch her!"

What follows is the dog's reaction to their encounter. He defines the cat in terms of its green-eyed scratching, pfft-ing, escaping, and running. With "Pfft! Pfft!" the dog has the cat cornered again, which deserves another comment from the dog on its scratching: "Can't she scratch!"

The cat then claws its way to safety up a sycamore tree,

Scritching the bark
Of the sycamore-tree,
She's reached her ark
And's hissing at me

This, the dog is willing to accept as a victory and ends with a "Wuff! Wuff!" and a "Scat cat!" then leaves with a triumphal "That's that!" It's lovely the way that Farjeon reinvented English words to come out of the dog's consciousness, like scritiching, spitch, hithery and thithery.

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