Meaning Behind the Lusty Song “Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent

It’s not controversial to say that Ted Nugent is a controversial rocker. But before we get into that, let’s dive into a little medical jargon. Let’s talk about Cat Scratch Fever.

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While some have said the affliction isn’t real, according to experts, “Cat Scratch Fever” is an actual disease, though a rare one. Doctors say it is an infection of the lymph nodes after receiving a scratch or bite from a cat. It is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae. Symptoms can include red skin bumps and effects on vital organs. The disease largely heals on its own, though it can have serious complications.

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Now, the song of the same name, that’s a whole other story.

The Song

Written by the polarizing Nugent in 1977, the song was released on May 13 of that year.

It boasts a rambunctious, even party-like electric guitar riff, which is what helped make the recording famous. Nugent comes in sounding like a stadium rock band singer in the style of AC/DC. His voice hypnotizes and the guitar riffs do, too.

But beyond the musicality, the song, of course, is about sex—the cat being a thinly veiled concept for a woman and the fever being lust. As Nugent plays shrieking guitar leads, he sings:

I make the pussy purr with the stroke of my hand
They know they gettin’ it from me
They know just where to go
When they need their lovin’ man
They know I do it for free

The song, which scratches all the itches of rock, so to speak, came out on the multi-platinum album of the same name. It hit No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, and in 2009, VH1 called it the 32nd-best hard rock song ever. But, today, while the track is considered a classic, it cannot be separated from its controversial composer.

Ted Nugent

Today, the 74-year-old, Michigan-born Nugent is very active on Twitter, with more than 650,000 followers on the social media platform.

In a recent interview with American Songwriter, Nugent said, “I’m a lightning rod because truth, logic, and commonsense is Kryptonite to the politically correct, braindead, soulless cult of denial fleebs. Could I be any cooler?”

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And just before that, he said, “It’s all so simple, it’s stupid. Courtney Love is a drug-abusing liar, guns and the 2nd Amendment are perfect, drugs are for weak losers, politics are supposed to be driven purely by the U.S. Constitution, gay people are just people, the very concept of animal rights is a dirty scam, too many Islamists are murderous, homophobic devils, Covid-19 will go down in history as the biggest scam known to man, Kyle Rittenhouse displayed the perfection of good over evil, Obama was an America hating prick, nearly everything Trump did benefited America and mankind, and Joe Biden is the manifestation of cultural deprivation.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Born on December 13, 1948, Nugent has long held strong opinions that ruffle many. He is a board member of the National Rifle Association and was even investigated by the Secret Service for comments he made about former President Obama. Indeed, polarizing.


No matter your feeling about Nugent, his song remains part of the classic rock canon.

“Cat Scratch” was covered by the heavy metal group Pantera on its Detroit Rock City album, hitting No. 40 on BIllboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Though Nugent said of the cover, “It was exceedingly white. No soul, no balls, no feel. Caucasian all the way.”

The song was also covered by Motörhead for the 1992 LP, March ör Die, and rearranged by The Replacements for their 1984 LP, Let It Be.

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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