Ben has held a life-long interest in language and has a particular interest in the expressions, phrases, and idioms that contribute to it.
Feline Proverbs and Sayings: What Are They?
All languages use proverbs, many of which started life as a wise saying or as advice. These smart snippets from the past, created to be memorable, provide guidance from previous generations' learning about all the essential aspects of our lives. These proverbs cover every topic we can imagine.
A proverb can carry its message and be understood immediately without the need for further explanation or examination. This article explores proverbs and sayings that involve the characteristics of the cat.
What is a Proverb?
Proverbs are used to connect us to other people and the wisdom of the past.
— BBC Global News Ltd, November 21, 2016
The Cat Is King
A Cat’s View of Its Place in Life
1. A cat's a cat, and that's that.
An American proverb. Short, succinct, and to the point.
2. In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats.
An English proverb that confirms what all cat owners already know only too well.
3. I gave an order to a cat, and the cat gave it to its tail.
A Chinese proverb that sums up the two sayings above quite nicely.
4. A cat knows you are the key to their happiness—a man thinks he is.
It seems the cat knows your place better than you do yourself.
What Is A Proverb?
A proverb is a short sentence that people often quote, which gives advice or tells you something about life.
— Source: Collins English Dictionary
Cats and Their Interaction With People
A much-discussed and much-argued topic is the relationship between humans and their cats. It is oft said that you are either a dog person or a cat person as if it is impossible to be both at the same time. I can tell you from experience that it is. I can also say that my relationship with a cat is different from my relationship with a dog. They are different but still equally as valued and beneficial. This conflict of views led to many related proverbs and sayings:
5. Happy owner, happy cat. Indifferent owner, reclusive cat.
A Chinese proverb. Snappy, to the point, and accurate.
6. If you want to know the character of a man, find out what his cat thinks of him.
As the proverb suggests, the cat is the shrewd judge of character, not easily fooled and able to see past outer pretence.
7. Beware of people who dislike cats.
This Irish saying suggests something dubious about a person who cannot bring themselves to like cats.
8. Cats have an amazingly keen sense of hearing but go conveniently deaf when you call.
I can confirm the validity of this saying. I have yet to find a cat that answers to a command in the way a dog would. They much prefer to do things in their own good time.
9. When I am in the doghouse, my cats still come to visit.
10. I got rid of my husband. The cat was allergic.
This statement says it all—know your place.
Cat People Will Understand This Video
Cats Know Who Is in Charge—Do You?
Every cat owner learns only too quickly how the hierarchy will be once the cat moves in.
11. The purity of a person's heart can be immediately measured by how he regards cats.
I have often thought that this was a vicious rumor put out there by those sneaky cats.
12. Everyone knows cats are on a higher level of existence. These silly humans are just too big-headed to admit their inferiority.
I have never heard my cat say this, really—but somehow, I know that he means this.
13. A cat knows precisely what you are and treats you accordingly.
You should be in no doubt about this.
14. Blessed are those who love cats, for they shall never be lonely.
A chance for a bit of peace would be fantastic—even if only for a minute.
15. For a man to truly understand rejection, he must first be ignored by a cat.
One of the first lessons a cat teaches you.
A proverb expresses a truth based on common sense or experience.
Cat Proverbs Continued
16. A person who manages to understand a cat is qualified to understand almost anything else.
There is no denying it; cats are complicated things.
17. Those who dislike cats will be carried to the cemetery in the rain.
A Dutch saying which confirms what all cats want you to believe.
18. Cats are so unpredictable. You never know how they'll ignore you next.
19. Cats leave paw prints on our hearts.
How very true.
20. There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats.
You should never be in any doubt about it.
An Explanation of What Proverbs Are
Proverbs About Cats in Your Home
Those of us with a cat in the home soon realize that it will never be the same again.
21. It's the cat's house. I just pay the mortgage.
A simple truth that clarifies a cat's relationship with those who share its home.
22. Books and cats and fair-haired little girls make the best furnishing for a room.
A French proverb. A saying in an idyllic tone.
23. A house without a dog, a cat, or a little child is a house without joy or laughter.
A proverb from Scotland that supports the accuracy of the previous French version.
24. Free to a good home—female cat or husband.
Please don't say I didn't warn you!
25. Happy is the home with at least one cat.
An Italian proverb—obviously created by a cat lover—but with a semblance of truth within it.
26. We have a friend who hates cats. Every time he comes to the house, the cat sits on his knee.
Just the cat letting him know that he knows, that you know, that he knows—cat mind games afoot.
27. A cat will wait until you've read your morning paper before tearing it to shreds.
It must have been a more polite cat than mine!
28. A cat makes all the difference between coming home to an empty house and coming home.
It is true—you are never alone once the cat moves in.
29. Never feed your cat anything that doesn't match the carpet.
How very true - I would opt for laminate flooring if I were you.
30. Anything on the ground is a cat toy. Anything not there yet, will be.
Cats and Their Association With Luck
There is a great deal of folklore surrounding cats (mainly black cats). While many cultures consider a black cat to be a sign of good luck, others think them to be the opposite and a symbol of impending bad luck. Here are a few proverbs associated with cats and success:
31. You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.
An American proverb.
32. A cat assures its owner of good luck.
A Chinese proverb.
33. The cat is magical and the bringer of good luck.
An Indian proverb.
34. To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck.
An Irish proverb. Even though these proverbs cover a massive part of the globe, they all view the cat as being an indication of good fortune.
Cats and Their Association With the Supernatural
Cats have a long association with the supernatural. Exactly why this is is still something of a mystery. Some say it is because cats have a highly tuned sense of sight and hearing and that this allows them to sense energies and auras that we can only imagine.
35. If you stared deep into a cat's eyes, you would be able to see into the world of spirits.
An English proverb. People have always found a cat's eyes to be "unnatural" and somewhat disturbing. It is hardly surprising then that we often make an association with the supernatural world.
36. My soul feels as disturbed as if a cat were treading my heart.
A Chinese proverb.
37. If you take even one of a cat's nine lives, it will haunt you forever.
Another version of proverbs and sayings that remind us it is wrong to consider hurting a cat.
38. Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.
Cats at Night
Cats are creatures of the night, and consequently, some proverbs and sayings are related to this association:
39. After dark, all cats are leopards.
40. It's always blackest just before you step on the cat.
Beware—you will never see this predator coming.
41. All cats look grey in the dark.
42. In the dark, all cats and all girls are beautiful.
A proverb from Hungary.
Cats and Dogs—Like Chalk and Cheese
The difference between cats and dogs is often used to highlight variations in opinion or arguments.
43. Dogs remember faces, cats places.
An English proverb. It perfectly describes the difference between the canine and the feline.
44. The dog for the man, the cat for the woman.
This English proverb says more about people than it does about the dog and the cat.
45. The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry.
This French proverb is very elegant in its description.
46. In the long run, even a dog will compromise with the cat.
This Hungarian proverb recognizes the superior creature.
47. Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God.
It seems the cat has a higher aspiration.
48. Dogs have owners; cats have staff.
No point in arguing. We all know it.
49. Having done wrong, the cat will always try to make it look like the dog did it.
Sneaky, these cats.
50. When I'm in the doghouse, my cats still come to visit.
51. Buy a dog a toy, and it will play with it forever. Buy a cat a present, and it will play with the wrapper for 10 minutes.
A true statement. Try it for yourself.
52. Every dog has its day—but the nights are reserved for the cats.
53. After a time, even the dog begins to compromise with the cat.
Cats and Mice
Cats love to hunt. It is just the way it is, and many cats seem to want you to see their prowess as a hunter for yourself. After all, why would they keep bringing home their haul of small beasts to show you? If you are thinking of taking in a cat as a pet, you had better prepare yourself for the sight of a mouse or little bird on the living room floor.
54. When the cat's away, the mice will play.
55. It takes a good many mice to kill a cat.
56. A cat with gloves never catches mice.
A Greek proverb—even a cat needs its tools (the claws) to correctly do the job.
57. A cat is a lion to a mouse.
58. When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby.
A proverb from Nigeria. I hope for the mouse's sake; the hole is very, very close.
59. It is not from the love of God that the cat catches mice.
A proverb from Iran.
60. The cat who frightens the mice away is as good as the cat who eats them.
A German proverb.
61. It is better to feed one cat than many mice.
A proverb from Norway. Sound advice for those plagued by mice.
62. An old cat likes young mice.
A Greek proverb. The wily old cat knows how to take advantage of the young mouse's inexperience.
More Proverbs Relating to The Cat's Ability to Hunt
The ultimate predator. Its stealth, speed, and determination in hunting prey are unsurpassed. There are many proverbs and sayings from around the world that relate to this aspect of the cat.
63. A cat in the grass is a tiger in the jungle.
This English proverb tells of the cat's prowess as a hunter.
64. A cat is a lion in a jungle of small bushes.
Like the English proverb above, this Indian version relates to a cat's prowess as a hunter.
65. When rats infest the Palace, a lame cat is better than the swiftest horse.
From China, this proverb confirms that the right tool for the job is a necessity.
66. If cats had wings, there would be no ducks in the lake.
An Indian proverb. A frightening thought: a cat with wings.
67. All cats love fish but fear to wet their paws.
I have yet to see a cat that enjoys getting wet.
68. If you can't feed the cats, then you must feed the rats.
69. Cats don't catch the old birds.
70. A cat always knows whose meat it eats.
The Wariness and Curious Nature of the Cat
71. A cat with a straw tail keeps away from fire.
An English proverb. Know your weaknesses.
72. A cat bitten once by a snake dreads even rope.
An Arabian version. We all need to learn from our experiences.
73. That cat that has its mouth burned by drinking hot milk will not drink even buttermilk without first blowing upon it.
This Indian proverb has a similar message to those above.
Cats Are Like This
74. Cats are like potato chips. You can never have just one.
75. Cats are like a pygmy lion who loves mice, hates dogs, and patronizes human beings.
76. Cats are like a thing of beauty, strength, and grace that lies behind that whiskered face.
Phew! Last Proverb! This Cat Is Exhausted
77. The cat has nine lives—three for playing, three for straying, and three for staying.
Rab on September 20, 2018:
You keep a dog but you feed a cat !