14 Cat Idioms & sayings: Intermediate-advanced level

Idioms are a part of everyday language: Here are 14 cat idioms and sayings!

Fight like cat and dog

 = Argue aggressively

‘The two brothers fought like cat and dog when they were small. Now they are the best of friends.’

Grinning like a Cheshire cat

= Smiling a really wide smile like the Cheshire cat from the book Alice in Wonderland.

‘Have you had some good news. You’re grinning like a Cheshire cat!’

alice in wonderland theme elements

Look like something the cat dragged in

(dragged = pulled with force)

= When someone or something looks terrible.

‘What happened to you? You look like something the cat dragged in!’

‘I fell off my bicycle.’

‘Don’t bring that into the house! It looks like something the cat dragged in.’

 Like a cat with nine lives

= Cats are said to have nine lives as they often survive difficult situations.

‘My cat fell from the tree last week. I don’t know how he survived but I think he’s only got eight lives left now.’

‘Tom has so many accidents playing sports but he never gets hurt. He’s like a cat with nine lives.’

Raining cats and dogs

An idiom showing a rain with cats and dogs

= Raining very heavily

‘We had a terrible day at the beach. It was raining cats and dogs all day.’

Cat’s whiskers

= Something or someone that is impressive or fun

‘That new Italian restaurant on King’s street is the cat’s whiskers!’ 

Cat got your tongue? (usually adults say to children)

= Question for someone who is quiet.

‘You’re very quiet. Has the cat got your tongue?’

Let the cat out of the bag

= Tell a secret by mistake

Jane did not know about the surprise party. Unfortunately, her husband let the cat out of the bag the day before. 

Like a cat on a hot tin roof

= Someone is nervous and fidgety (moving a lot; especially hands or feet)

‘He is going on a first date with Maria tonight. He’s been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day.’

Not enough room to swing a cat

= A small place 

‘I’ve just bought a flat. There’s not enough room to swing a cat but I don’t care. It’s all mine.’ 

Curiosity killed the cat

= Said to someone who is interfering; being nosy 

‘Don’t look in there, it’s private. Curiosity killed the cat!’ 

Put the cat among the pigeons

= Do or say something that makes other people worried or angry 

‘Our company announced that they will shut two of our factories. It’s really put the cat among the pigeons. No one knows which factories will be shut.’ 

While the cat’s away the mice will play

= When the boss is not there everyone else does what they want.

‘I would never leave my teenagers at home alone for a week. While the cat’s away the mice will play.’ 

‘The boss is away tomorrow. I’m going to have a long lunch! When the cat’s away the mice will play.’  

Like the cat that has got the cream

= Someone is very pleased with themselves because of something they have done

‘What have you done? You look like the cat that’s got the cream!’

‘I’ve just been promoted to manager!’

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