9 Cat Idiomz From 11 Different Languages

In this video two savvy felines, Cool Cat and Fat Cat, share some of the cat-themed idioms they’ve picked up from humans.
9 Cat Idiomz From 11 Different Languages

Cats sauntered into human civilization thousands of years ago, and we’ve been catering to their every whim ever since. They can be stingy with their affection, and tend to be bad gift givers (“a dead bird in my bed – again?”), but we still love and admire our arrogant, aloof, irrepressible feline companions. After so many years of cohabitation, it’s no wonder they’ve infiltrated the way we speak.

1

To have nine lives like a cat

English

Meaning: to have a talent for getting out of bad situations

dokuz canlı kedi

Turkish

Translation: cat with nine lives

Avere sette vite come i gatti

Italian

Translation: to have seven lives like a cat

Turkish, English and many Slavic languages assume cats have eight extra, mystical lives. Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese give cats two fewer chances to defy mortality.

2

Retomber comme un chat sur ses pattes

French

Translation: to land like a cat on his feet

Meaning: to be lucky or successful after being in a difficult situation

Similar English expression: to land on one’s feet

3

Cat got your tongue?

English

Meaning: do you have nothing to say?

Donner sa langue au chat

French

Translation: to give one’s tongue to the cat

Meaning: to give up

Similar English idiom: to throw in the towel

¿Se te ha comido la lengua el gato?

Spanish

Translation: did the cat eat your tongue?

Meaning: why aren’t you talking?

4

Gato escaldado tem medo de água fria

Portuguese

Translation: a scalded cat fears cold water

Meaning: to be traumatized by a bad experience

Similar English idiom: once bitten, twice shy

5

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

English

Meaning: when an authority figure is away, those under them enjoy some freedom

Quando il gatto non c’è, i topi ballano

Italian

Translation: when the cat’s not here, the mice dance

Wenn die Katze aus dem Haus ist, tanzen die Mäuse auf dem Tisch

German

Translation: when the cat’s out of the house, the mice dance on the table

Kad mačke nema, miševi vode kolo

Croatian

Translation: when the cat’s gone, the mice lead the kolo

Meaning: when the boss is away, someone under them calls the shots

The kolo is a traditional Balkan dance popular at weddings and other social gatherings. It involves a large group of people dancing in a circle while holding hands. One person tends to lead the dance.

6

नौ सौ चूहे खाके बिल्ली हज को चली (Nau Sau Choohey Khakar Billi Hajj Ko Chali)

Hindi

Translation: after eating 900 rats, the cat goes on a pilgrimage

Meaning: to veil a lifetime of wrongdoing with a few token expressions of virtue later in life

7

Nu arunca pisica în curtea altuia

Romanian

Translation: don’t throw the cat in someone else’s yard

Meaning: don’t blame someone else

Similar English expression: don’t point the finger

8

All cats are grey in the dark

English

Meaning: the differences don’t really matter

Om natten är alla katter grå

Swedish

Translation: at night, all cats are grey

À noite, todos os gatos são pardos

Portuguese

Translation: at night, all cats are brown

9

Avoir un chat dans la gorge

French

Translation: to have a cat in the throat

Meaning: to have a phlegmy, hoarse throat

Similar English idiom: to have a frog in the throat

Bonus

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

English

Meaning: there are many different ways to solve a problem

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