Tip-cat (also called cat, cat and dog, one-a-cat, pussy, or piggy) is a pastime which consists of tapping a short billet of wood (usually no more than 8 to 15 centimetres (3 to 6 in)) with a larger stick (similar to a baseball bat or broom handle); the shorter piece is tapered or sharpened on both ends so that it can be "tipped up" into the air when struck by the larger, at which point the player attempts to swing or hit it a distance with the larger stick while it is still in the air (similar to swinging at a pitch in baseball or cricket, etc.).
There are many varieties of the game, but in the most common, the batter, having placed the billet, or "cat", in a small circle on the ground, tips it into the air and hits it to a distance. His opponent then offers him a certain number of points, based upon his estimate of the number of hops or jumps necessary to cover the distance. If the batter thinks the distance underestimated he is at liberty to decline the offer and measure the distance in jumps, and score the number made.
In Walsall in the 1950s, an alternative version required a set of stumps and bails, similar to those used in cricket; unlike cricket, these stumps were leant against a convenient wall, as the game was played in the street. The aim was to tip up the cat and then strike it towards the stumps with the object of dislodging the bails. Opposing fielders were allowed to catch the cat in flight.
The game is very similar to Gillidanda which is still popular among rural youth in southern Europe and the Indian subcontinent, and which is also known by several other names, see Gillidanda#Similar games.
A similar game is also played in South Korea, known as "jachigi" (자치기). It is played by young children.
In West Yorkshire the similar game is known as knurr and spell.
In Galicia there is a tip-cat league called Liga Nacional de Billarda.
In Lancashire a version called piggy is played in which the billet or "piggy" is only tapered on one side, like the snout of a pig.
In popular culture
Italo Calvino has written a short story "Making Do" (in English, "Chi si contenta" in Italian), published in the collection "Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories" in which the only thing left legal for the citizens to do is to play Tip-cat (Lippa in the Italian), which they do all day, even after that is then forbidden to them, too. A variant of the Italian 'lippa' is 'lizza'.
- Shoemaker, Alfred L. "Let's All Play Nipsi," The Pennsylvania Dutchman, volume 1, no. 3. Lancaster, PA, Thursday, May 19, 1949, p. 2. https://dspace.fandm.edu/bitstream/handle/11016/24033/Vol1No.3.pdf?sequence=1