Cats have featured in stories, poems and proverbs over the centuries. Some are obvious in their meaning, other perhaps not so. Here is a selection of some of the more amusing ones:
Curiosity killed the cat
This is one of the most famous sayings related to cats dating back to the 1500’s and generally taken to mean mind your own business. If you don’t and you’re nosey, you could get hurt. Most cat owners will know the outcome of this well, having cats who have been shut in cupboards or garden sheds for a few hours or days due to their inquisitiveness.
No room to swing a cat
The meaning of this phrase is clear. It means a small confined space. The most likely source of this is the ‘cat’ being a cat o’ nine tails which was a whip which had many tails and was used as a naval punishment in the 17th century.
The cat’s pyjamas
This is a delightful expression which conjures up all sorts of images of cats in a multitude of different nightwear. Its origin is recent, though to have been first used in the 1920’s to describe something that was wonderful. Some people prefer to use ‘the bees knees’ or ‘the tiger spots’.
A cat in gloves catches no mice
Again, this expression paints a lovely picture in one’s mind! The meaning behind this is that if you’re too polite then you don’t always get what you want. The supposed link between cats and gloves is that a cat who is superior and parades around wearing gloves will not be able to catch any mice and so will actually accomplish nothing.
One of my favourite quirky quotes guaranteed to raise a wry smile is from Faith Resrick a writer and cat lover, who said ‘People who hate cats will come back as mice’ – so you have been warned!