Cat. Called a "Familiar", from the mediaeval superstition that Satan's favourite form was a black cat. Hence witches were said to have a cat as their familiar. The superstition may have arisen from the classical legend of Galenthias who was turned into a cat and became a priestess of Hecate.
In ancient Rome the cat was a symbol of liberty and the goddess of Liberty was represented with a cat at her feet. No animal is so opposed to restraint as a cat.
In Ancient Egypt the cat was held sacred. The goddess Bast, representative of the life-giving solar heat, was portrayed as having the head pf a cat, probably because that animal likes to bask in the sun. Diodorus tells us that in Egypt whoever killed a cat, even by accident, was punished by death. According to tradition Diana assumed the form of a cat, and thus excited the fury of the Giants.
"Cat" is also a term for a spiteful woman, a spiteful remark is said to be "catty" and "Cat" was once a slang term for a harlot.
A Cat has nine lives. A cat is more tenacious of life than many animals, it is careful and hardy and after a fall generally lands on its feet without injury, the foot and toes being well padded. Shakespeare used this in "Romeo and Juliet" as below:
Tyb: What wouldst thou have with me?
Mer: Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, III, i.
A cat has nine lives, and a woman has nine cats' lives. - Fuller: Gnomologia.
A Cat may look at a king. An impertinent remark by an inferior, meaning, "I am as good as you." There was a political pamphlet published with this title in 1652.
All Cats love fish but fear to wet their paws. An old adage said of one who is anxious to obtain something of value but does not care to incur the necessary trouble or risk. It is to this saying that Shakespeare referred in Macbeth, I, vii: Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would", Like the poor cat i' the adage.
Before the Cat can lick her ear. Never; before the Greek Calends. No cat can lick her ear.
Enough to make a Cat laugh. Incongruously ridiculous.
Enough to make a Cat speak. Said of something (usually good liquor) that will loosen one's tongue.
Come on your ways; open your mouth; here is that which will give language to you cat; open your mouth. - Shakespeare: Tempest, II, ii.
Hang me in a bottle like a Cat. (Much Ado about Nothing, I, i). In olden times a cat was for sport enclosed in a bag or leather bottle, and hung to the branch of a tree, as a mark for bowmen to shoot at. Percy in his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) mentions a variant of the "sport": It is still a diversion in Scotland to hang up a cat in a small cask or firkin half filled with soot; and then a parcel of clowns on horseback try to beat out the ends of it, ln order to show thelr dexterity ln escaping before the contents fall upon them.