15 Cat Metaphors, Similes and Idioms (2021)

We share our homes and lives with cats. So, it’s little wonder that we have come up with a range of sayings and expressions to talk about them. In this article, we’ll look at 15 creative expressions about cats.

These metaphors, similes, and idioms about cats can be used to talk about cats, to compare people to cats, and to simply describe common activities through comparisons to cats.

Metaphors to Describe Cats

1. The Cat is a Lion

If you say a cat is a lion, you’re saying it’s a bigger, scarier, and braver animal than it might look. We can consider this a metaphor because we’re saying the cat is something that it clearly isn’t!

You might say this about a cat who is courageous and, perhaps, a good predator! Your cat might come home with a mouse in its mouth and you might say to your cat: “you’re a courageous lion!”

Related: Metaphors for Home

2. The Cat is a Statue

Cats will often sit perfectly still staring down at everyone. They will also often do this from a high vantage point like on top of a bookshelf.

Because they sit so still looking down at everyone, we could even mistake them for statues. Of course, they’re not statues, so when we say they are statues, we’re using metaphor as a literary device.

3. The Cat is a Sentry

A sentry is someone who guards something. You might call your cat a sentry if it’s stalking around the outside of your property.

You’ll often see cats, for example, sitting on your footpath leading to your house or sitting on your fence. You might also see them sitting inside staring out the window. It can be easy to think that the cat is keeping an eye out like a sentry.

Here, we’re using metaphor because the cat really isn’t a sentry, but we’re saying it is because it acts like one.

4. The Cat is Man’s Best Friend

Usually, we say a dog is a man’s best friend. But, we can mix up our metaphors by saying a cat is man’s best friend.

You might use this metaphor if you (or someone you are talking about) just love your cat. You might sit together and watch TV like best friends.

Mixing metaphors can create a great literary effect, so long as you’re aware you’re mixing up your metaphors and using them ironically.

5. My Cat is my Therapist

Cats can offer a lot of peace and comfort to people who have had a bad day. You might get home to your cat and let off some steam by playing with it or just lying on the bed and having a cuddle.

So, while the cat isn’t literally your therapist, it can have similar effects. It might calm you down, let you talk to it without judgement, and make you feel better.

Related: Cat Symbolism in Literature

Cat Similes

6. He is Introverted like a Cat

A simile doesn’t say is but rather like to achieve comparison. It’s literal and not figurative.

So, to say someone is introverted like a cat, you could imagine they’re a person who might not like strangers, likes to stay home on rainy days, and is perfectly happy entertaining themselves.

7. Like Herding Cats

This saying is both a simile and idiom. We use it to describe a situation where it is difficult to coordinate a group of people.

For example, if a teacher needs to get all the students onto a bus, but they’re running around and playing, the teacher might say: “getting you all onto the bus is like herding cats!”

This saying comes from the idea that you can’t get a cat to do what you want it to. So, imagine trying to get 30 cats to all go in the same direction!

Related: A List of Dog Metaphors

Cat Metaphors to Describe Others

8. You’re a Black Cat

To call someone a black cat is to imply that they have some magical powers. Black cats have throughout history been seen to be mystical and even devious sorcerers.

Usually this would be a negative thing to call someone. Black cats are predominantly seen as bad luck as well as mystical. For example, it’s believed that seeing a black cat could lead to bad ulck.

9. You’re a Pussy Cat

To call someone a pussy cat is to say they’re harmless, kind, and even cuddly! This metaphor implies a contrast between a lion, who is scary and harmful, and a tiny cat, who is not going to cause much harm to anyone.

This metaphor is commonly used when talking about someone who is gentle and kind. For example, you might say “my husband is a pussy cat, he would never ham anybody.”

10. You’re a Sly Cat

We can use the adjective ‘sly’ before talking about cats because cats seem to be cunning and deceitful creatures.

So, if a friend of yours is being cunning and a little sinister, you might turn them and say, “aren’t you the sly cat today!”

This is a typical metaphorical device, where you imply someone is something else to draw comparison between the person and the traits of the thing being metaphorically referenced.

Related: 47 Best Animal Metaphors

Common Cat Idioms

11. You Let the Cat out of the Bag

To let the cat out of the bag means to accidentally give away a secret. In our minds, we could picture a cat in a hessian bag. You’re trying to keep it in the bag, but at any opportunity it gets, it slips out and runs away.

Similarly, if you’re holding a secret inside, you need to be careful to keep it contained, or else it will slip out of your mouth and you won’t be able to take it back!

12. It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

The phrase “raining cats and dogs” is an idiomatic expression. It means that it is raining really heavily.

Unfortunately, no one really knows where this idiom originates from. When we’ve lost the origins of a metaphor, we refer to it as a type of metaphor called a dead metaphor.

One potential explanation is that it is based on the idea that cats and dogs raining down from the sky is unbelievable. So, you can say it when the rain coming from the sky is so heavy that it’s unbelievable.

Others think it’s linked to the Norse god of storms, who was often seen with cats and dogs.

So if a storm is coming you could say it’s raining cats and dogs to refer to the idea that the Norse god of storms is nearby.

13. Cat got your Tongue?

The phrase “has the cat got your tongue?” is used when someone is struggling to say anything. They might be lost for words or refusing to answer. Instead of saying “are you struggling to find the right words?”, you can say “has the cat got your tongue?”

We don’t know the origins of this idiom either, but it may have to do with the idea of old kings who would cut off the tongue of liars and feed it to their cats.

14. Curiosity Killed the Cat

This phrase relates to the idea that cats can be overly curious creatures. This curiosity can get them into trouble. A good example of this is when a cat climbs a tree chasing a bird, then is too scared to get out.

But we use this phrase when warning someone not to be curious. You can say: “don’t look too far into this, because as you know, curiosity killed the cat.” In other words, you shouldn’t be seen to be too curious or you might find yourself in some trouble.

15. You’re a Scaredy Cat

To call someone a scaredy cat is to laugh at them for their fear of something. This is a simple idiom (and, also, a metaphor!) that we use to tease someone. You can say: “You won’t go on the rollercoaster? You’re such a scaredy cat!”

Conclusion

The above cat metaphors, similes and idioms are just a sampling of the ways you can use cats in figurative language.

And in fact, the sky’s the limit. Create your own metaphors by thinking about similarities between the thing you are describing and something different. But instead of saying something is like something else, say it is something else!

Skip to content