Cat Scratch Fever (song)

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"Cat Scratch Fever"
Single by Ted Nugent
from the album Cat Scratch Fever
Released May 1977
Recorded 1977
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal, blues rock
Length 3:38, 3:04 (Single)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent singles chronology
"Dog Eat Dog"
"Cat Scratch Fever"
"Home Bound"

"Cat Scratch Fever" is a rock song by Ted Nugent that appears on the album of the same name. The song is well known for its signature riff, which is a 3-tone minor-key melody harmonized in parallel fourths. In 2009, it was named the 32nd best hard rock song of all time by VH1.[1]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 37
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 30


The song is about a man chronicling his long history of promiscuous sex, and lamenting (or perhaps, celebrating) his inability to control himself or the women he has sex with, and vice versa. The main reason for his lament is that his active sexual lifestyle results in him getting "Cat Scratch Fever"; however, the narrator does gleefully and explicitly (if somewhat resignedly) describe the pleasure he gets from the sex. The song makes heavy use of cats and their claws scratching things and people as sexual metaphors. The meaning of "Cat Scratch Fever" is more or less left open to the listener's interpretation, but general consensus is that the line refers to the sexually transmitted disease syphilis, as "cat scratch fever" was a common street slang term for the disease in the '70s and the song mentions "[going] to the doctor" and that "you know you got it when/you goin' insane/It makes a grown man cry". Nugent has vehemently protested this interpretation, explaining in 2012 "Are you fucking kidding me? I never had syphilis! It's about the disease of boys craving girls".[2] Nugent had occasionally introduced the song onstage as "Can't Scratch Her Beaver". Some of the lyrics may refer to cat-scratch disease (often also called "cat scratch fever") and some of its symptoms.

Pantera cover[edit]

"Cat Scratch Fever"
Single by Pantera
from the album Detroit Rock City soundtrack
Released 1999
Genre Heavy metal
Length 3:48
Label Polygram
Writer(s) Ted Nugent
Pantera singles chronology
"Where You Come From"
"Cat Scratch Fever"
"Revolution Is My Name"

The tune was covered by Pantera for the Detroit Rock City CD soundtrack.[3] Their version peaked at 40 on the Mainstream Rock chart.[4] Nugent criticized the version claiming, "It was exceedingly white. No soul, no balls, no feel. Caucasian all the way."[5] Nugent later released more positive comments on the group and even mourned the death of Dimebag Darrell saying, "It's a heartbreaker."[6]


Chart (1999) Peak
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 40

Covers and in other media[edit]


  1. ^ "Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs". January 1, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ Classic Rock magazine, Summer 2012, issue 173
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Detroit Rock City - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Pantera". AllMusic. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  5. ^ "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - TED NUGENT Says PANTERA's Version Of 'Cat Scratch Fever' Had 'No Soul, No Balls'". Roadrunner Records. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Blabbermouth.Net - Ted Nugent: Dimebag Darrell'S Death Is A 'Heartbreaker'". Roadrunner Records. Retrieved February 9, 2012. [dead link]
  7. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Gary's Got a Boner - The Replacements". AllMusic. Retrieved October 23, 2012.