77 Cat Proverbs and Sayings

Updated on July 10, 2019
Ben Reed profile image

Ben has held a life-long interest in language and has a special interest in the expressions, phrases and idioms that contribute to its use.

Proverbs and Sayings: What Are They?

All languages use proverbs, many of which started life as a wise saying or as advice. These wise snippets from the past, created to be memorable, provide advice from the learnings of previous generations about all the important aspects of our lives. In fact, these proverbs cover every topic we can imagine. The message of a proverb can usually be understood immediately without a need for further explanation or examination. This article explores proverbs and sayings that involve characteristics of the cat.

Proverbs are used to connect us to other people and the wisdom of the past.

— BBC Global News Ltd, 21st November 2016

The Cat Is King

If there is a single theme among most Cat Idioms and Phrases, it's that the cat believes himself king.
If there is a single theme among most Cat Idioms and Phrases, it's that the cat believes himself king. | Source

A Cat’s View of Its Place in Life

Often considered aloof and superior, the cat is usually portrayed as being in charge and unforgiving of others' mistakes.

1. A cat's a cat and that's that.

An American proverb that is 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 which sums up the two proverbs above quite nicely.

4. A cat knows you are the key to his happiness—a man thinks he is.

It seems the cat knows your place better than you do yourself.

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 often 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 that of my relationship with a dog…different, but still 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 that is snappy, to the point and very true.

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 pretense.

7. Beware of people who dislike cats.

An Irish saying suggesting that there is something dubious about someone who cannot bring themselves to like cats.

8. Cats have amazingly keen 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.

Says it all really...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 quickly measured by how he regards cats.

I have often thought that this was a vicious rumour 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.

Never heard my cat ever say this really—but somehow I know that he means this.

13. A cat knows exactly what you are, and treats you accordingly.

You should be in no doubt of this.

14. Blessed are those who love cats, for they shall never be lonely.

A chance for a bit of peace would be nice—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.

— Wikipedia

Cat Proverbs Continued

16. A person who manages to understand a cat is qualified to understand most anything else.

Complicated things, these cats.

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 just 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 doubt it.

An Explanation of What Proverbs Are

Cats in Your Home

Those of us with a cat in the home soon come to realise that it will never be the same again.

21. It's really the cat's house. I just pay the mortgage.

22. Books and cats and fair-haired little girls make the best furnishing for a room.

A French proverb with an idyllic note.

23. A house without a dog, a cat or a little child is a house without joy or laughter.

A Scottish proverb that really confirms the above previous French version.

24. Free to a good home—female cat or husband.

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, very true - I would opt for laminate flooring if I was 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 (particularly black cats). Whilst many cultures consider a black cat to be a sign of good luck, others consider them to be the opposite and a sign of impending bad luck. Here are a few proverbs associated with cats and luck:

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 huge 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 been long associated 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 cats 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 tell 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 at Night | Source

Cats at Night

Cats are often cast as creatures of the night and consequently, there are proverbs and sayings that relate to this association:

39. After dark all cats are leopards.

American proverb.

40. It's always blackest just before you step on the cat.

Suggests that 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

The difference between cats and dogs is used a great deal to highlight differences, usually variances at opposite sides of an argument or opinion.

43. Dogs remember faces, cats places.

An English proverb. Describes perfectly the difference between the canine and the feline.

44. The dog for the man, the cat for the woman.

An English proverb that says more about people that it does about the dog and the cat.

45. The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry.

A French proverb that is very elegant in its description.

46. In the long run even a dog will compromise with the cat.

A Hungarian proverb that recognises the superior creature.

47. Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God.

It seems the cat has the greater 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 as if 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 he'll play with it forever. Buy a cat a present, and he will play with the wrapper for 10 minutes.

This is very true. Try it for yourself.

52. Every dog has his day—but the nights are reserved for the cats.

53. After a time, even the dog begins to compromise with the cat.

A cat on the hunt.
A cat on the hunt.

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? Thinking of taking in a cat as a pet? You had better be prepared for the sight of a mouse or small 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 do the job properly.

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 and good advice.

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 grass is a tiger in the jungle.

An English proverb telling of the cat's prowess as a hunter.

64. A cat is a lion in a jungle of small bushes.

An Indian version of the previous English proverb.

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 fearsome 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 cat just can't resist the temptation.
The cat just can't resist the temptation.

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. Learn from your experiences.

73. That cat that has its mouth burned by drinking hot milk will not drink even buttermilk without first blowing upon it.

An Indian proverb with a similar message to those above.

Cats Are Like...

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

An Exhausted Cat
An Exhausted Cat

77. The cat has nine lives—three for playing, three for straying, and three for staying.

Questions & Answers


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        12 months ago

        You keep a dog but you feed a cat !


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