I recently discovered that, in addition to man 👨 pages, some UNIX documentation is also available as cat 🐈 pages. (Cf. this question: What is the deal with mandb and stray cats?)

From man catman:

       catman - create or update the pre-formatted manual pages

       catman [-d?V] [-M path] [-C file] [section] ...

       catman  is used to create an up to date set of pre-formatted manual pages known as cat pages.  Cat pages are generally much faster to display than the
       original manual pages, but require extra storage space.  The decision to support cat pages is that of the local administrator, who must provide  suit‐
       able directories to contain them.

       The  options  available  to  catman are the manual page hierarchies and sections to pre-format.  The default hierarchies are those specified as system
       hierarchies in the man-db configuration file, and the default sections are either the colon-delimited contents of the environment variable $MANSECT or
       the  standard set compiled into man if $MANSECT is undefined.  Supplying catman with a set of whitespace-delimited section names will override both of
       the above.

My question is: what are the commands available to display cat pages?


1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a command available to display cat pages: man!

From the manpage:

Once a manual page has been located, a check is performed to find out if a relative preformatted ‘cat’ file already exists and is newer than the nroff file. If it does and is, this preformatted file is (usually) decompressed and then displayed, via use of a pager. The pager can be specified in a number of ways, or else will fall back to a default is used (see option -P for details). If no cat is found or is older than the nroff file, the nroff is filtered through various programs and is shown immediately.

If a cat file can be produced (a relative cat directory exists and has appropriate permissions), man will compress and store the cat file in the background.

To view a raw cat file, use a tool such as less or morecat files are simply pre-rendered man pages. (You’ll need this for stray cats.)

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