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Most popular pet-related sayings and their origins

There are plenty of idioms, sayings and expressions related to cats and dogs some with peculiar origins while others have stayed the same over the centuries and mean exactly what you think they might. Here are our favourite pet-related sayings and where they come from!

Raining cats and dogs

Meaning: It’s raining very heavily.

Origin: We’ve all probably said this at some point in our lives, and let’s be honest it probably didn’t originate because cats and dogs started to fall from the sky. Or at least we hope not!

The truth is, no one’s sure where the saying came from. It could be because of cats and dogs seeking shelter with families during heavy rains in the 16th century, or maybe something to do with the recorded cases of small animals, like frogs and fish, raining down from the skies.

Let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning: To leave things as they are.

Origin: An expression that’s had a few meanings along the centuries. From the literal warning about the risk of waking a napping dog to a cautionary phrase not specific to our canine friends, and sometimes used as an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” alternative.

Can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Meaning: It’s hard to get a person to try a new way of doing something.

Origin: The origin of this phrase is quite literal and was offered as advice for shepherds in 1534 to train their dogs while they are young as it’ll be harder to teach them as they get older.

Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: To be wrong about the reason for something.

Origin: Another phrase with a literal meaning, relating to hunting dogs barking at the bottom of trees where they mistakenly think their prey is hiding. Oops!

Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: To reveal facts that were previously hidden.

Origin: An idiom with a rather implausible explanation as some think it might have originated from a time when sellers trading at livestock markets sometimes sold piglets in bags. Some unscrupulous sellers would swap the piglets for a cat when the buyer wasn’t looking, which led to “letting the cat out of the bag” once they checked on their purchase when they got home, and they’re met with a wriggling cat.

Some are sceptical about this explanation, as cats miaow and pigs oink, so the buyer is sure to notice that they’ve been conned before it’s too late?

Look what the cat dragged in

Meaning: Used to announce someone’s arrival, usually in a negative sense.

Origin: Now, this idiom’s origin might be the most obvious at all. We all know how cats love to come home from their nightly hunts bearing gifts (usually dead ones) for their owner. So, that’s basically it.

What’s your favourite idiom? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page.


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Hello, lovely readers, I'm Catrin George. I'm a treat dispenser and walk giver to Marvel, the border collie. I'm here to give you the latest updates and low downs on anything and everything pet related, whether they miaow, woof, or neigh. The blogs will be filled with news, reviews, and charity visits with some discounts and giveaways squeezed in-between. So, keep your eyes peeled here!

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