This section is from the book "The Book Of Cats", by Charles Henry Ross. Also available from Amazon: The Book Of Cats: A Chit-Chat Chronicle Of Feline Facts And Fancies, Legendary, Lyrical, Medical, Mirthful And Miscellaneous.
THESE are some of the best known Proverbs about Cats: -"Care will kill a Cat," one says, and yet Cats are said to have nine lives. Let us hope that poor Pussy will never be put to a worse death. "A muffled Cat is no good mouser." "That Cat is out of kind that sweet milk will not lap."
"You can have no more of a Cat than her skin." This proverb seems to refer to the unfitness of her flesh for food. Formerly the fur of the Cat was used in trimming coats and cloaks. The Cat-gut used for rackets, and for the fine strings of violins, is made from the dried intestines of the Cat, the larger strings being from the intestines of sheep and lambs.
"Fain would the Cat fish eat, but she is loth to wet her feet."
"The Cat sees not the mouse ever."
"When the Cat winketh, little wots the mouse what the Cat thinketh."
"Though the Cat winks a while, yet sure she is not blind."
"Well might the Cat wink when both her eyes were, out?"
"How can the Cat help it, if the maid be a fool?" Which means how can it help breaking or stealing that which is left in its way?
"That that comes of a Cat will catch mice."
"A Cat may look at a king."
"An old Cat laps as much as a young kitten."
"When the Cat is away, the mice will play."
"When candles are out, all Cats are grey." Otherwise," Joan is as good as my Lady in the dark."
"The Cat knows whose lips she licks."
"Cry you mercy, killed my Cat." This is spoken to those who play one a trick, and then try to escape punishment by begging pardon.
"By biting and scratching, Cats and Dogs come together."
"I'll keep no more Cats than will catch mice;" or no more in family than will earn their living.
"Who shall hang the bell about the Cat's neck." The mice at a consultation, how to secure themselves from the Cat, resolved upon hanging a bell about her neck, to give warning when she approached; but when this was resolved on, they were as far off as ever, for who was to do it? John Skelton says: "But they are lothe to mel, And lothe to hang the bel About the Catte's neck, Fro dred to have a checke"
"A Cat has nine lives, and a woman has nine Cats' lives."
"Cats eat what hussies spare." "Cats hide their claws." "The wandering Cat gets many a rap." "The Cat is hungry when a crust contents her."
"He lives under the sign of the Cat's foot;" that is to say, he is hen-pecked - his wife scratches him.
Here are some French proverbs: "Chat echaude craint l'eau froide." (A burnt child dreads the fire.)
"Ne reveillons pas les Chats qui dort." (Let sleeping dogs alone.)
"La nuit tous Chats sont gris." Moliere says: "Vous etes-vous mis dans la tete que Leonard de Pourceaugnac soit un homme a acheter Chat en poche." (To buy a pig in a poke.)
"Ce n'est pas a moi que Ton vendra un Chat pour un lievre." (Don't think you can catch an old bird with chaff.)
"Elle est friande comme une chatte." (She's as dainty as a Cat.)
"Payer en Chats et en rats." (To pay in driblets.)
"Appeler un Chat un Chat." (Call a spade a spade.)
"Avoir un Chat dans la gorge." (Something sticking in the throat.)
Shakespeare says: "Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,' Like the poor Cat i'the adage."
Again: "Let Hercules himself do what he may, The Cat will mew, and Dog will have his day."
The wisdom of our forefathers teaches us, that if a Cat be carried in a bag from its old home to a new house, let the distance be several miles, it will be certain to return again; but if it be carried backward into the new house this will not be the case.
A Cat's eyes wax and wane as the moon waxes and wanes, and the course of the sun is followed by the apples of its eyes.
The brain of a Cat may be used as a love spell if taken in small doses.
If a man swallow two or three Cat's hairs, it will cause him to faint. As a cure for epilepsy, take three drops of blood from under a Cat's tail in water.
The horse ridden by a man who has got any Cat's hair on his clothing will perspire violently, and soon become exhausted. If the wind blows over a Cat riding in a vehicle, upon the horse drawing it, it will weary the horse very much.
To preserve your eyesight, burn the head of a black Cat to ashes, and have a little of the dust blown into your eyes three times a day.
To cure a whitlow, put the finger affected a quarter of an hour every day into a Cat's ear.
The fat of the wild Cat (Axungia Cati Sylvestris) is good for curing epilepsy and lameness. The skin of the wild Cat worn as coverings, will give strength to the limbs.
Now about dreams: If any one dreams that he hath encountered a Cat, or killed one, he will commit a thief to prison and prosecute him to the death, for the Cat signifies a common thief. If he dreams that he eats Cat's flesh, he will have the goods of the thief that robbed him; if he dreams that he hath the skin, then he will have all the thief's goods. If any one dreams he fought with a Cat that scratched him sorely, that denotes some sickness or affliction. If any shall dream that a woman became the mother of a Cat instead of a well shaped baby, it is a bad hieroglyphic, and betokens no good to the dreamer.
Stevens states, that in some counties of England, it used to be thought a good bit of fun to close up a Cat in a cask with a quantity of soot, and suspend the cask on a line; then he who could knock out the bottom of the cask as he ran under it, and was nimble enough to escape its falling contents, was thought to be very clever. After the first part had been performed, the Cat was hunted to death, which finished this diverting pastime. They were full of their fun, once upon a time, in merrie England.