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How do you call a cat?

In the United States, we make kind of a psss psss psss psss sound. I often make a more of a clicking sound, which one time in Cuernavaca, in Mexico, I was told by a groundskeeper, is how you call a rabbit. Which seems odd, because though cats may seldom come when you call them, rabbits tend to be terribly indifferent to people, unless they are pets. At any rate, just like how animals say different things in different languages, or are at least spelled differently, looking at you meow and miau, and woof and guau guau, the things you say to call them are different, too.

For example, if you say pssss psss to a cat in Chile, he or she will not pay you any mind. Or will look at you once to see if you seem dangerous and then look away. The thing you want to say in Chile is, coincidentally (or not), the name of this cat food:


Though it turns out, it’s not quite as easy as that. It’s not cu-CHEE-tow. It’s c-ch-tu, or c-ch-t-c-ch-tu. It took me alot of practice to be able to say this semi-correctly, and the thing that finally solidified it for me, believe it or not, was Dub FX, specifically, this video:

In which he explains that beat boxing starts with words, (start at :57) such as bouncing cats, or baboons and pigs, where he emphasizes breath and consonants, eventually mainly dropping the vowels, just like cuchito. He, of course, sounds like a musician when he does these, and I vaguely sound like a person that may or may not have a cat turn around, or also a bit like the sound on my printer when it is trying to find paper in the paper tray and there is none. As it happens, cats don’t really pay that much attention to humans anyway, but on occasion, they have been known to stop and look at me with my new found c-ch-tu. Your mileage may vary, on a recent trip to Argentina, I had mixed success with c-ch-tu.

But what about dogs? Dogs in Chile (when they are not biting you) are so friendly, that you don’t really need to call them, as in, request that they come close. But there is still something to be learned from supermarket wares re: dogs. The generic salutation for an unknown dog, of course, seen here:



You don’t say c-ch-pn for a dog, so much as when you see one, you can greet it by saying “hola cachupín,” or “que lindo que eres, cachupín.” Though sometimes you will greet a stranger’s dog on the street, calling it “cachupin” and you will be corrected by the owner who tells you “es cachupina.” Dog gender politics. Looking forward to the google searches on that.

And speaking of correcting, and things that are made for dogs, consider this food, available at the market in bulk, to be bought and brought home, cooked and fed to dogs:


Although I believe that technically, those should be “fideos para perros,” unless you think that a) the dogs are the owners of the pasta/noodles or b) the noodles are made of dogs. I may only recently know how to call a cat in Chile, but I’m pretty sure that pasta is not made of dogs, though depending on what you feed them, your cachupín may be made (at least partially) of pasta. And now I find myself trying to say “fideos para perros” as fast as I can and see what I come up with. So far, nothing good. I wonder where Dub FX stands on the trilled r.