Cat Idioms | Golden Skate

Cat Idioms

CrazyKittenLady

Moskvich - Stable of Dark Horses
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Country
Austria
Well, I like cats obviously and I am also constantly striving to improve my Russian skills, so here goes:

Do you have any cat idioms in your native language?

In German for example if we have a (usually unpleasant) surprise for someone we "let the cat out of the bag". You can also "buy the cat in the bag", in that case the condition of the purchased item is quite unclear. If something is close by it's "just a cat's jump away", if something is useless it's "for the cat", and if something is redundant or even contradictory then "the cat bites its own tail".
 
Last edited:

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
What a great idea for studying another language. :)

In English, we also let the cat out of the bag, but it's not unpleasant, it just means you spoiled the surprise. You could let the cat out of the bag that you were buying a new house or getting engaged or whatever. But we use pigs for buying unknown items (buy a pig in a poke)

An old fashioned way of saying something is good (it's still used, but usually by people my age or older ;)) is to say "It's the cat's meow".

I'm sure there are more.
 

anonymoose_au

Insert weird opinion here
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Country
Australia
That's so cute!

We have some of the German idioms too (in English obviously) but there's also

"You/It look like something the cat dragged in" (For when someone or something looks really bedraggled or messy)

"Not enough room to swing a cat" for a very tiny space

And the British Eurosport Uncles favourite "Let the cat amongst the pigeons" for when someone or something really shakes things up!
 

CrazyKittenLady

Moskvich - Stable of Dark Horses
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Country
Austria
"You/It look like something the cat dragged in" (For when someone or something looks really bedraggled or messy)
Lol, this is great. I'll use it as soon as the next opportunity presents itself. :biggrin:
Of course we also have "It's raining cats & dogs," meaning it's raining very hard.
We say that in German too!

Another one that came to my mind: back in school, when our regular teacher was on sick leave we used to get a substitute and of course he didn't have as much authority, so we weren't always on our best behaviour. The other teachers used to say: "When the cat is out of the house, the mice are having a party." 🐈🐁🍾
 

Jeanie19

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 20, 2017
Country
United-States
Lol, this is great. I'll use it as soon as the next opportunity presents itself. :biggrin:

We say that in German too!

Another one that came to my mind: back in school, when our regular teacher was on sick leave we used to get a substitute and of course he didn't have as much authority, so we weren't always on our best behaviour. The other teachers used to say: "When the cat is out of the house, the mice are having a party." 🐈🐁🍾
In the US, when the cats away, the mouse will play.
 

CaroLiza_fan

EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA
Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 25, 2012
Country
Northern-Ireland
When somebody refers to a female as just "she" rather than by their name, it is common for the following to be snapped back in reply:

"Who's she? The cat's mother?"

It's implying that by not specifying who you are talking about, you are being disrespectful to that person.

You know, I never thought about it before. But, since this thread appeared, it has made me realise just how many phrases there are that involve cats.

But, thank goodness this thread is just about cats, and hasn't diversified into other pets. Because there are a lot of very dodgy phrases involving dogs...! :p :laugh:

CaroLiza_fan
 

CaroLiza_fan

EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA
Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 25, 2012
Country
Northern-Ireland
Oh, if you're "the cat's meow," you are really special & kind of viewed as a favorite.

Cat's meow?

I beg to differ; it's "cat's pajamas!"

I don't know if it's a regional thing, but in the Philadelphia area, we say "the cat's meow." I've actually never heard of the expression "the cat's pajamas" until very recently!

It might be a Northeast thing, because we say the cats meow in Boston.

Sorry @iluvtodd and @Jeanie19. I still love both of you, but I'm with @NanaPat on this one.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, it's "the cat's pyjamas" that is used. This thread was actually the first time I had heard the phrase "the cat's meow".

CaroLiza_fan
 

CrazyKittenLady

Moskvich - Stable of Dark Horses
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Country
Austria
This is so interesting, thanks for all your replies thus far!
1618850035935.png

Keep those cat idioms coming! Maybe some speakers of other languages (apart from English and German) want to chime in as well?
 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
Another one that came to my mind: back in school, when our regular teacher was on sick leave we used to get a substitute and of course he didn't have as much authority, so we weren't always on our best behaviour. The other teachers used to say: "When the cat is out of the house, the mice are having a party." 🐈🐁🍾
We say something similar in Dutch: When the cat is out of the house, the mice are dancing.

There are more in Dutch as well: doing something for the cat's violin (doing it all for nothing). Both bag variants: buying a cat in a bag (which would mean you've bought something unexpected in a negative way) as well as 'the cat is out of the bag' for a surprise. But also: 'cat in the cup' (kat in't bakkie) meaning that something is easy to do.

And another one about cornering someone: a cat in a corner makes strange jumps.
Or 'if it's not the pussycat that bites you, it will be the tomcat' (meaning: it doesn't matter who, but somebody's going to put you at a disadvantage).
Being able to see like a cat in the night (meaning you can see well in the darkness).
They forgot to feed the cat (meaning: bad weather on a wedding day. And no, I don't get this one really, it's a very old saying).
She let the cat get the cheese (she got pregnant).
 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
Even my name on this forum has to do with cats: 'Lady Jane' was my first Russian Blue cat, and she was named after the sad 9-day Queen in Tudor times Lady Jane Grey. To include a picture of one of my current Russian Blues (I used to have them as my avatar too):
96564785_3003949659652819_773846634499932160_o.jpg
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
I encountered one on the news just then! "It's like herding cats." Which I think we can agree is an amusing image. :laugh:

I had forgotten that one. "Like herding cats" is very common phrase in the US, and I've heard it my whole life. I don't think this one is limited to the Northeast.

In fact a famous commercial in the US was based on the concept:

 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
I had forgotten that one. "Like herding cats" is very common phrase in the US, and I've heard it my whole life. I don't think this one is limited to the Northeast.

In fact a famous commercial in the US was based on the concept:

This video is really very funny. It really had me laughing out loud. The problem is that you'll remember the commercial but not what it's actually advertising. Something complex....
 
Top