The man page for mandb refers to stray cats:

-s, --no-straycats
       Do not spend time looking  for  or  adding  information  to  the
       databases regarding stray cats.

There is no explanation of what a stray cat is. What's up?

2 Answers 2


From the Glossary in /usr/share/doc/man-db/man-db-manual.txt (source is manual/glossary.me):

cat page
A formatted manual page suitable for viewing on a vt100-type terminal.

stray cat page
A cat page that does not have a relative manual page on the system, i.e. only the cat page was supplied or the manual page was removed after the cat page had been created.
  • 2
    That explains the catman command too
    – Andy
    Feb 21, 2015 at 2:02
  • I don't understand. A "cat page" is a manual page (as per your answer). Then (also per your answer) a "stray cat page" is "a cat page that does not have a relative manual page". The answer affirms that a "cat page" is a manual page (with some specific characteristic). What is the meaning of a cat page (that is a manual page) not having a relative manual page? Dec 11, 2019 at 22:39
  • You missed the word "formatted".
    – JdeBP
    Jan 11, 2020 at 18:28
  • Probably "related" (corresponding, matching) would be a better word than "relative."
    – x-yuri
    Jan 22, 2021 at 18:07

A cat page is a particular type of man page. It is faster to display than a normal man page, but requires more hard drive space. They are created by using the catman command. This reads the 'regular' man pages and produces new pages with a different internal structure, called cat pages. If you create cat page(s) and then remove the original man page(s), you'll have "stray" cat page(s).

  • For the sake of completion, cat pages are usually written in 'pure' ASCII and reside on a directory structure similar/mirroring the one of man, also with the extension corresponding to the section (e.g. ffmpeg.1). Aug 24, 2021 at 11:37

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