Cat Idioms: A Guide for English Learners

Have you ever noticed how cats seem to have a certain mystique about them? They’re graceful, mysterious, and sometimes even a little aloof. It’s no wonder that moggies have made their way into the English language, featuring prominently in many idioms and expressions. Understanding these cat-related idioms can help you communicate more effectively in English and show off your feline appreciation. In this article, we’ll explore some common cat idioms and their meanings, so you can talk about your love of cats with confidence.

Cat burglarA thief who specializes in breaking into buildings to steal. “The police have been looking for the cat burglar who’s been stealing from jewellery stores.”
Cat got your tongue?Used to ask someone why they’re not talking or to break an awkward silence.“Why are you so quiet? Cat got your tongue?
Cat napA short sleep during the day.“I’m just going to take a quick cat nap before dinner.”
Cat on a hot tin roofTo be nervous, restless or agitated.“Ever since he lost his job, he’s been like a cat on a hot tin roof.”
Cat’s meowThe best or most impressive thing.“This new car is the cat’s meow!”
CopycatA person who copies someone else.“Look at Steve, he’s bought a hat and a coat just like mine. He’s such a copycat!”
Curiosity killed the catBeing too curious can lead to trouble.“You don’t need to know everything. Remember, curiosity killed the cat.”
Grinning like a Cheshire catTo smile widely and often mischievously.“Every time he talks about his new business venture, he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat.”
Let the cat out of the bagTo reveal a secret. “I accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.”
Look what the cat dragged inA way of saying that someone looks messy or dishevelled.“Wow, look what the cat dragged in. You look like you’ve been up all night.”
Not enough room to swing a catA small or cramped space.“The studio apartment was so small that there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat.”
Play cat and mouseTo play with someone by teasing or manipulating them.“The kidnapper was playing cat and mouse with the police.”
Raining cats and dogsRaining very heavily.“It’s raining cats and dogs outside.”
Scaredy-catSomeone who is easily frightened.“Don’t be such a scaredy-cat. It’s just a harmless spider.”
There’s more than one way to skin a catThere are many ways to achieve the same goal.“We may have failed with our first attempt, but remember there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
When the cat’s away, the mice will playWhen the person in charge is not around, people will misbehave.“Let’s wait until the boss goes on vacation. When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

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