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Cat Quotations, Proverbs, Sounds, Fables, and History
Here are a few cat tales of European folklore, and proverbs and quotations about cats.

What Does the Cat Say?

Algerie - Arabic: miaou miaou
Mandarin - Chinese: miao miao
Danish: mjav
Esperanto: miaw
Finnish: miau, kurnau
German: miau
Hebrew: miyau
Hindi: mya: u, mya: u:
Icelandic: mjá
Russian: myau
Swedish: mjau
Turkish: miyauv, miyauv

Secret mystery sound

'Miao' is a Chinese term for the secret, innermost mystery, says Dr. Lin Yutang in The Wisdom of China [p. 31n].

Cat Quotations

The cat in gloves catches no mice. [Benjamin Franklin]

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her. [Michel de Montaigne]

The smallest feline [cat] is a masterpiece. [Leonardo da Vinci]

The mice which helplessly find themselves between the cats' teeth acquire no merit from their enforced sacrifice. [Mahatma Gandhi]

Aristocracy is catlike. [Cf. Wendell Phillips]

Nothing is quite similar to the voice of the cat we love. [Cf. Jean de La Bruyère]

Cat bathing is a martial art.

Interesting Cats

One cat in a thousand is said to be able to draw, which can be very healthy and rewarding in many other ways for men in general.

Watch a cat paint (2 videos) etc. When a cat can paint, why shouldn't you?

From the art of stroking and patting cats

Know the do's and don'ts of approaching and touching a cat. Petting in the wrong spot or using too much force or speed can agitate some cats, causing them to bite or scratch. Pet the cat on its own terms: seek permission to touch her and let the cat have control over the interaction. Knowing where to touch, and when to stay away can help ensure that both of you enjoy a little cat-human contact.

  1. Let the cat sniff you before you pet it so it can become comfortable with you.
  2. Wait for the cat to bump her head against you, for then she would like some attention . At least pet her once or twice, to let her know you aren't ignoring her.
  3. Pet the cat once if she jumps into your cosy and warm lap and lies down. If she doesn't fidget, you can go on and lightly stroke her spine or some other parts that suit both of you.
  4. Pet a cat when she's on her side. Cats love to be petted when they are on their sides. Lightly stroke the side that is facing up. If the cat meows or purrs, it may be communicate enjoyment. Avoid the belly, though
  5. Let the cat give you some low audible sounds (called purring). Purring is one way a cat signals that it feels sociable and wants attention. The louder the cat purrs, the happier she is. Excessively loud purring means over-excessive happiness, which can sometimes switch quickly to annoyance, so be careful.
  6. Avoid getting hurt: Watch for signs that the cat does not want to be petted anymore, particularly much repeated petting. Pay attention to the signals the cat gives before biting a bit to show that she does not want to be petted anymore. If you see these, stop petting: (a) Ears flattening against the head; (b) Tail twitching; (c) Fidgeting; (d) Growling or hissing.

[◦Extracted from WikiHow, "Pet a cat", where there is more]


Cat Proverbs

A. British Proverbs

Beliefs like "Woe to them that kill a cat" could have save many an old cat.

When the cat's away, the mice will play. [Dp 1]

Well knows the mouse when the cat's out of the house. And fairly often it's murdered by it for that reason. [See Dp 1]

The cat is absent, the mice prance.*

In old age even a cat can expect death.

He who plays with a cat must expect to be scratched.

When the weasel and the cat make a marriage, it is a very ill presage. (No good can come of an alliance between two bad people). [Dp 13]

Woe's to them that have the cat's dish, and she aye mewing. [Dp 19]

It is a bold mouse that breeds in the cat's ear. [Dp 42]

There are more ways to kill a cat than choking it with cream. [With variants: Dp 62-3]

There is more than one way to skin a cat. [Dp 62]

A bashful cat makes a proud mouse. (A lenient parent or master makes impertinent children or servants). [Dp 66]

Ale will make a cat speak. [Dp 67]

A cat may look at a king. [Dp 84]

A scalded cat fears hot water. [Dp 86]

Let the cat wink, and let the mouse run. [Dp 87]

Never was cat or dog drowned, that could but see the shore. [Dp 125]

The cat shuts its eyes while it steals cream. [Dp 128]

How can the cat help it, if the maid be a fool? (If the cat steals a food processor or causes some other damage, it is the maid's fault for not putting things out of the animal's reach). [Dp 207-8]

The cat would eat fish and would not wet her feet. [Dp 133]

A cat has nine lives. (It refers to the cat's apparent ability to escape death, either through agility or sheer good luck). [Dp 151]

No playing with a straw before an old cat. [Dp 172]

He who saves for tomorrow saves for the cat. [Dp 237]

Put an old cat to an old rat. (Experience of the old can outwit the wiliness of certain contemporaries). [Dp 172]

A cat in gloves catches no mice. (Warns against overcautiousness). [Dp 206]

B. American Cat Proverbs

The following are American cat proverbs - presumably they reflect attitudes in America. If not, they would hardly been incorporated as proverbs.
A heraldry cat
Anger improves nothing but the arch of a cat's back.

A bad cat deserves a bad rat.

The cat may look at a king, they say, but would rather look at a mouse any day.

The cat may look at the queen.

A cat's courting is noisy.

A cornered cat becomes as fierce as a lion.

A lost cat always comes back.

A singed cat dreads the fire.

All cats look alike in the dark.

Cats after kind sweet milk will lap.

If you can't feed the cats, you must feed the rats.

It is in his own interest that the cat purrs.

Keep no more cats than will catch mice.

Let every cat cover up his own stink.

One of the most startling differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.

Scalded cats fear even cold water.

Sleeping cats catch no mice.

Handle your tools without mittens: the cat in gloves catches no mice.

The cat is a good friend, but she scratches.

The cat is honest when the meat is out of her reach.

The cat would eat fish, but ... not wet her feet.

There's just one way to rub a cat's fur.

There are more ways than one to kill a cat.

There are more ways to kill a cat besides choking him to death.

To a good cat a good rat.

Wait till we see how the cat jumps.

Rats will play while the cat's away.

Who'll bell the cat?.

Selfishness is harder to kill than a cat.

C. A Few Additions to Consider

Cats and mice usually do not stroll together.

Great diversity of cat ways could help.

Decent living and humanity can be schooled by taking care of lots of animals.

The friendly cat spirit has no money in the bank!

Cats learn too, as they discharge energy in different walks of life.

Cats are great beings in many myths and folk tales.

Those who help the remaining free cats in the world, need to know more than animals.

Diversity is much to go for.


Cat History and More


Few animals are as endearing as cats. They are finely coordinated in movement, remarkably powerful for their size, and far more self-reliant than dogs.

The domestic cat has a history that dates nearly 3,500 years to ancient Egypt. Present-day tabbies may be descendants of the sacred cats of Egypt.

Cats come in small sizes and large sizes. The largest is the tiger. In Scandinavia and other parts of Europe and the world the modest and very shy lynx is the largest wild cat in nature.

One group of cats - most of the big cats - can roar, but not purr, and the pupils of their eyes are round. Another cat group of smaller cats, including the domestic cat, can purr but do not roar. Their pupils are usually vertical. Some of these cats may like to be stroked. And kitten's play is a prelude to adult behaviour of preying and killing.

All cats are predominantly night hunters, so their eyes are extra sensitive to light.

The Council of Mice

The mice gathered to decide how they might best get warned when the cat approached, for they were afraid of him. Among the many plans they came up with, the one that found most favour was the idea of tying a bell to the neck of the cat so that the mice could be warned by the sound of the tinkling, and then run away and hide themselves in their holes. But when the mice further debated who among them should put a bell on the cat, they found no one to do it.

The Fox and the Cat

A fox was boasting to a cat of its clever devices for escaping its enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks," he said, "yes, I know a hundred ways of escaping enemies."

"I use only one trick," said the cat; "but I can generally manage with that."

Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming towards them. The cat at once scampered up a tree and hid herself in the boughs. "This is my solution," said the cat. "What are you going to do?"

The fox thought first of one way, then of another, and while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer, and at last the fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen.

Pussy, who had been looking on what happened, said: "Better one safe way than a hundred which you can't really reckon on."

From Cat Observations

Advancing on and on unlike a little cat is not the big thing it seems to be to some.

Attain to warm and solid frankness; besides there is warm, sound and brilliant humour.

A good joke can count a whole lot among well educated people too.

We don't thrive by being a lot alone.

You should not sulk. Besides, non-morbid items are best.

One should make a mindful response, and perhaps maintain an artful response ever so often. You don't have to be servile and at odds with all and sundry.

Good things may be learnt, just as being clean and tidy in the house, but perhaps not on the scaffold.

Great thought is also laid bare through how trees, bees, animals, and people live - such great "languages"."

Attain to warm and stout humour, and also a solid, good look into nature, free from distress.

To drink eagerly - "every cat" knows that's the neat way to do it.

Attain to ladylike elegance you too. "Aristocracy is catlike." [Cf. Wendell Phillips]

One should not venture too far. [T+ 4.1]

Cats like to be surrounded by sweet-smelling flowers. Good conclusions to flourish by are smooth and delicate like flowers, and very well rounded. They can be terse. Art is fairly often figurative too.

Advancing on and on is much like roving around - not safe enough for a little cat and child.


Cats, kittens, cat sounds, cat proverbs, Literature  

Yutang, Lin. The Wisdom of China. London: New English Library, 1963.

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