Throughout much of literary history, the feline has been both subject, and inspiration in literary art.
The furry muse has inspired countless works, including poems, fables, myths and legends.
These select cat quotes, sayings and references to felines in literature include proverbs and sayings from around the world.
Sometimes the references were positive ones, and other times negative.
As we know, cats are mysterious, and were once associated with the rise of Christianity, witches, warlocks, and demons.
This has given rise to the use of the feline in many literary works and art as either an evil spirit or some type of demonic force.
"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat."
-Edgar Allan Poe
But cats have also been used as a force of good, such as Dr. Suess's The Cat in the Hat. Or, as a harmonizer or a bridge between concepts, story lines, or people.
"A pox upon him!"
Many sayings, expressions, and quotes used today in modern conversation come from the works of William Shakespeare. Some of the phrases or sayings originate much earlier, but it's often Shakespeare's version that we quote.
According to the book, For the Love of Cats, Shakespeare referenced cats over 40 times in his many pieces of literature, but none of them were in a positive light.
That may not be entirely true, however, as a reader of the New York Times pointed out as far back as 1901 that Shylock did mention the "harmless necessary cat" in the Merchant of Venice. One could argue that even that quote is negative, though. Shakespeare is a complex beast.
"I could endure anything but a cat. And now he's a cat to me... A pox upon him! For he is more and more a cat."
-William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well
"Who will bell the cat?"
-William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman
I've looked at several online versions of William Langland's work, which is alternatively called The Vision Concerning Piers the Plowman
among other variations. I can't find one that shows the exact text "who
will bell the cat?" which comes from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 17th edition:
The phrase "belling the cat" comes from a fable, known as "The Bell and the Cat."
It's attributed to Aesop, and also referred to as "The Mice, the Bell, and the Cat" or simply "Belling the Cat."
In Bartlett's, the quotation is "Who shall bell the cat?" and the fable is "The Rat and the Cat" so take your pick.
The fable is also often summarized under the title of "The Mice in Council."
In Langland's piece, he's retelling the story his own way.
The story involves a community of mice who are trying to figure out how to protect themselves from their enemy, the cat.
It's suggested that they should place a bell on the cat's neck, which seems like a good idea.
One mouse, however, wants to know who will actually perform the dangerous and difficult task of placing the bell on the cat.
In other words, the task was "easier said than done!"
"In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods; they have never forgotten this."
Here are some quotes submitted by visitors:
Posted by someone calling themselves Weirdo... "cats are amazing creatures."
Posted by Elizabeth from NY... "She was a one person cat and I was her one person."
Would you like to share a cat quote or poem with your fellow cat lovers? Type it in and share your favorite poems or quotes with us!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
My Friend With the Big Green Eyes
I have a friend with big green eyes, Who knows when I'm happy or sad, She's always there by my side, And for that I'm so very glad. When I'm upset …
He's a Brillo he's a Cat
He's a Brillo, he's a cat, he's a Brillo Cat!
Thing about Cute Brillo
The thing about cute Brillo is that he is like a pillow (fluffy!)
Samantha and Misty
Not a quote or poem but an anecdote For most of my life I have had cats. I would normally look in the ads for free pets and then go to where my new …
Lovely whiskers long and black elegant and cute cat gently sleeps on my lap while he takes a long resting nap :)
Cat Love Quote
"LOVE ME..... LOVE MY CAT ! "
My Poem for Spooky Girl
My Poem for Spooky Girl May 22, 1993 – June 23, 2010 I cry myself to sleep tonight Because I had to let …
Kind and Sharing
My SPOOKY cat was always kind and sharing--- allowing me to sleep in HER king size bed and eat from HER cereal bowl with her. Poem for Spooky …
A Tribute To Frugal Dougal
This is a tribute to @FrugalDougal whose charity fund raising efforts for animal causes through #pawpawty events held on Twitter are now legendary. This …
Quote by Martha Curtis
Cats come and go without ever really leaving.
There are many proverbs about cats from all over the globe. Some are worth repeating.
"When the mouse laughs at the cat, there's a hole nearby."
You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats."
"Happy owner, happy cat. Indifferent owner, reclusive cat."
"I gave an order to a cat, and the cat gave it to its tail."
"The cat who frightens mice away is as good as the cat who eats them."
"A cat may go to a monastery, but she still remains a cat."
"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats."
Myths and legends about felines are, well, legendary! There are tons of them.
There's a Polish legend about a group of kittens who were happily chasing butterflies along the banks of a river when they fell into the water. When the mother cat saw what had happened to her kittens, she started crying.
Hearing her cries, the willow trees along the edge of the river dipped their branches into the water, allowing the kittens to grab on to the branches, and pull themselves out of the river to safety.
In honor of the kittens, the willows sprout little buds of fur on their branches each spring.
Sayings about cats roll off the tongue, often even for non-cat lovers. Many of us don't know their origins, or when they became common usage, and some are regional in nature.
"When the cat's away, the mice will play."
"Honest as the cat when the meat's out of reach."
"The cat that swallowed the canary" or "the cat that ate the canary" is a common saying, referring to someone who is very satisfied (usually with him or herself). It's often used to describe someone who has done something forbidden or sneaky.
"The cat is mighty dignified until the dog comes by."
Here are some of my thoughts on cats.
"Even when perfectly still, cats appear fluid. The constant illusion of continuous motion."
"Cats are ever confident that their mere presence will enhance any situation. And they are not wrong."
meowing doesn't get their attention, meow louder. If meowing louder
doesn't get you anywhere, howl. If howling is ineffective, quietly move
into their blind spot, and jump in a lap."
Felines of all variety have inspired poetry and prose for many years. Start with this description of a cat's love of milk, appropriately called "Milk for the Cat" by Harold Monro.
You can move on to this collection of cat poems, including nursery rhymes, like this one:
There Was a Crooked Man
There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.