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Presented by State Library Victoria

Cat idioms


If you saw the dog idioms post last week, you’ll remember that an idiom is ‘a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words’ – eg over the moon, see the light. Here are some idioms about cats.


cat and mouse

A series of cunning manoeuvres designed to thwart an opponent.

the cat’s whiskers

An excellent person or thing.

cat got your tongue

Said to someone who remains silent when they are expected to speak.

let the cat out of the bag

Reveal a secret carelessly or by mistake.

like herding cats

Used to refer to a difficult or impossible task, typically an attempt to organize a group of people.

like the cat that got the cream

Self-satisfied, having achieved one’s objective.

look like something the cat dragged in

Look very dirty or dishevelled.

A cat may look at a king

Even a person of low status or importance has rights.

All cats are grey in the dark.

The qualities that distinguish people from one another are obscured in some circumstances, and if they can’t be perceived they don’t matter.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

People will naturally take advantage of the absence of someone in authority to do as they like.

have kittens

Be extremely nervous or upset.


Cats or dogs?




Cats by a factor of ten although I do have a dog so I can't openly disparage dogs otherwise he will assassinate me in my sleep.

8th Apr, 19

Inky's going to bust the door down like the Duolingo bird when I don't practise Spanish

8th Apr, 19

In reply to bookwithbane

Now that is a quality simile.

9th Apr, 19
inky Centre for Youth Literature

Dogs...well, naturally!

11th Apr, 19

Naturally indeed. But Inky, do you ever feel hostile or competitive towards cats?

12th Apr, 19