Théophile A. Steinlen (1859-1923)
Cat and Full Moon (ca. 1880)

Quotes on Cats

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

An old mouse got up and said: "Who is to bell the Cat?"
It is easy to propose impossible remedies.
— Aesop (620-550 BC), Aesop's Fables: Belling the Cat

It has been the providence of Nature to give this cat nine lives instead of one.
— Bidpai or Pilpay (circa 326 BC), Fable 3: The Greedy and Ambitious Cat

The mouse had fallen in with evil cats.
— Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Inferno 22.58 (Mandelbaum)

The cat would eate fish, and would not wet her feete.
— John Heywood (1497-1580), Proverbes (1546), I.10

A woman hath nine lives like a cat.
— John Heywood (1497-1580), Proverbes (1546), II.4

When I play with my cat, who knows whether
I do not make her more sport than she makes me?
— Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Essays,
     Book II, Ch. 12, Apology for Raimond Sebond

Those who'll play with cats must expect to be scratched.
— Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1615), I.3.8

There is a cunning which we in England call "the turning of the cat"
in the pan; which is, when that which a man says to another,
he says it as if another had said it to him.
— Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Essays: Of Cunning (1612)

A harmless necessary cat.
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Merchant of Venice (1598), IV.1.55

What though care killed a cat,
thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Much Ado About Nothing (1598), V.1.135

Let Hercules himself do what he may.
The cat will mew and dog will have his day.
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Hamlet (1601), V.1.313

While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er
Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Description of a City Shower (1729)

I know Sir John will go, though he was
sure it would rain cats and dogs.
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Polite Conversation, Dialogue II (1729)

She watches him as a cat would watch a mouse.
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Polite Conversation, Dialogue III (1729)

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
Mother Goose, "Hey Diddle Diddle" (1729)

Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives, How many were there going to St. Ives?
Mother Goose, "As I Was Going to St. Ives" (1729)

Mephistopheles to Faust:
And I've a little of the tom-cat?s art,
That creeps around the fire escape,
Then slinks along the wall, a silent shape,
I'm quite virtuous in my way,
A little prone to thieve, and stray.
The splendour of Walpurgis Night,
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Faust (1808), Part I, XIX.3655-3660

There wasn't room to swing a cat there.
— Charles Dickens (1812-1870), David Copperfield, Ch. 35 (1850)

But do cats eat bats, I wonder? And here Alice began to get rather sleepy,
and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, Do cats eat bats?
Do cats eat bats?' and sometimes, 'Do bats eat cats?'
— Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Ch. 1

she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat
sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice.
— Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Ch. 6

"All right", said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly,
beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin,
which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
— Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Ch. 6

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Me-ow!"
— Eugene Field (1850-1895), The Duel, Stanza 2

When there was room on the ledge outside of the pots and boxes for a cat,
the cat was there— in sunny weather— stretched at full length, asleep
and blissful, with her furry belly to the sun and a paw curved over her nose.
— Mark Twain (1835-1910), Pudd'nhead Wilson, Ch. 1 (1894)

One of the most striking differences between a cat
and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
— Mark Twain (1835-1910), Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, Ch. 7 (1894)

I've got a little cat
And I'm very fond of that.
— Joseph Tabrar (1857-1931),
     "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow", stanza 4 (1892)

The Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.
— Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Just So Stories (1902),
     "The Cat That Walked by Himself" (1998 Russian film)

The fog comes on little cat feet.
— Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), "Fog" (1916)

The Cat on your hearthstone to this day presages,
By solemnly sneezing, the coming of rain!
— Arthur Guiterman (1891-1943), "The First Cat", Stanza 7


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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter(at) (5-26-2011)