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Cat Sayings & Proverbs Part III

Cat Sayings & Proverbs Part I  Cat Sayings & Proverbs Part II
Cat Sayings and Phrases  More Cat Sayings and Phrases

Touch not a Cat but a glove. The punning motto of the Mackintosh clan, whose crest is a "cat-a-mountain salient guardant proper", with "two cats proper" for supporters. Their clan was the clan Cattan or Chattan, thus "touch not the clan Cattan". The meaning of "but" here is "without" or "except with".

What can you have of a Cat but her skin? Said of something that is useless for any purpose but one. The cat's fur was used for trimming cloaks, etc., but the flesh was no good for anything.

When the Cat's away the mice will play. Advantage will be taken of the abscence of the person in authority. A proverb found in many languages. It is given in Ray's Collection.

Cat and Fiddle. There are several fanciful derivations for this inn sign but it most probably comes from the nursery rhyme: Heigh diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, etc. There is a possible reference to the once popular game of tip-cat or trap-ball and the fiddle for a dance that were provided as attractions for customers. The second highest English inn is the "Cat and Fiddle" near Buxton, Derbyshire, United Kingdom.

Cat and Kittens. A Public-house Sign alluding to the large and small pewter pots in which beer was served. Stealing these pots was called "cat and kitten sneaking".

Cat and Mouse Act. Popular name for the Prisoners "Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act" of 1913, passed during the Suffragette disturbances to avoid the imprisoned law-breakers from achieving martyrdom through hunger strikes. They were released on licence when necessary, subject to re-arrest if need arose.

To play cat and mouse. To do what you like with someone in your power.

Cat-call. A kind of whistling noise sometimes used by theatre audiences, etc., to express displeasure or impatience. I was very much surprised with the great consort of cat-calls, to see so many persons of quality of both sexes assembled together in a kind of caterwauling. - Addison: Spectator, No. 361.

Cat-eyed. Able to see in the dark.

Cat Ice. Very thin, almost transparent ice, from under which the water has receded; unable to bear the weight of a cat.

Cat-lap. A contemptuous name for tea, or other "soft" drink such as a cat would drink; non-alcoholic liquor. A more accomplished old woman never drank cat-lap. - SCOTT: Redgauntlet, ch. xiii.

Cat o'mountain. The wild-cat; also the leopard, or panther; hence a wild, savage sort of man.

Cat-o'-nine-tails. A whip with nine lashes used for punishing offenders, briefly known as the "cat". Once used for flogging in the Army and Navy and not formally abolished as a civil punishment for crimes of violence until 1948. Popular superstition says that the nine tails were because flogging by "a trinity of trinities" would be both more efficient and more efficacious.

Cat Stane. Certain monoliths in Scotland (there is one near Kirkliston, Linlithgow), so called from the Celtic cath, a battle, because they mark the site of a battle. They are not Druidical stones.

Cat's-brains. This curious name is given to a geological formation of sandstone veined with chalk. It is frequently met within old agricultural deeds and surveys.

Cat's Concert. A noisy jangle, a discordant din; like the caterwauling of cats at night.

Cat's Cradle. A game played with a piece of twine by two children. It has been suggested that the name is a corruption of cratch-cradle, or the manger cradle in which the infant Saviour was laid (cratch is the Fr. creche, a rack or manger), but this is no more than surmise.

Cat's Eye. A gem, which possesses chatoyancy, or a changeable lustre. The true or precious cat's eye is a variety of Chrysoberyl. The semi-precious kind is a form of quartz. It is also the name of a reflector embeded in the road as a guide for motorists after lighting-up time or in fog.

Cat's Paw. A light air, seen afar off, indicated by a ripple on a calm sea, and often heralding the end of the prevailing calm (so called by sailors). It is also a nautical term for a loop formed in a rope for attaching a hook, etc.

To be made a Cat's Paw of. The tool of another, to do another's dirty work. The allusion is to the fable of the monkey who wanted to get some roasted chestnuts from the fire, and used the paw of his friend the cat for the purpose.

Cat's Whisker. In the old fashioned "crystal" wireless sets, this was the name given to the very fine wire that made contact with the crystal.

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