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This entry is about the domestic animal. For the musical, see Cats (musical).
In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this. ~ Terry Pratchett

The cat, also called the domestic cat or house cat, is a small feline carnivorous mammal of the subspecies Felis silvestris catus. It has been living in close association with humans for between 3,500 and 8,000 years.

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I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there's a saucer of milk in it for them. ~ Douglas Adams
If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, you end up with a non-working cat. Do not try this. ~ Douglas Adams
Cats don't have friends. They have co-conspirators. ~ Darby Conley
Pete the Cat, of Texas


  • I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there's a saucer of milk in it for them.
  • Nothing divided people more deeply than how they felt about cats.
    • Kingsley Amis, Difficulties with Girls (London: Hutchinson, 1988), p. 274.
  • A cat which dares to scratch me while we're at peace, no matter how many times it may then caress me, shall never be allowed to be close enough to me to scratch me again.


  • The cat is, above all things, a dramatist; its life is lived in an endless romance though the drama is played out on quite another stage than our own, and we only enter into it as subordinate characters, as stage managers, or rather stage carpenters.
    • Margaret Benson, The Soul of a Cat and Other Stories (London: William Heinemann, 1901), p. 157.
  • CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, "why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;" and then, as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, "but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed."


  • Meow
    • Cat
  • Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
    And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
    And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
    Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
    And every deyntee that is in that hous,
    Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.


  • A cat is the ideal literary companion. A wife, I am sure, cannot compare except to her disadvantage. A dog is out of the question. It may do at a butcher's – it would be out of place in a bookseller's. A cat for a bookseller is a different creature temperamentally from the same animal at a fishmonger's or a baker's. In these shops the cat is a useful animal – I suppose it is employed to eat fish entrails or to keep down rats and mice – but in my shop its function is that of a familiar. It is at once decorative – contemplative – philosophical, and it begets in me great calm and contentment.
Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~ Robertson Davies
  • Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.
  • Perhaps God made cats so that man might have the pleasure of fondling the tiger...
The kitten has a luxurious, Bohemian, unpuritanical nature. ~ Robertson Davies
  • The kitten has a luxurious, Bohemian, unpuritanical nature. It eats six meals a day, plays furiously with a toy mouse and a piece of rope, and suddenly falls into a deep sleep whenever the fit takes it. It never feels the necessity to do anything to justify its existence; it does not want to be a Good Citizen; it has never heard of Service. It knows that it is beautiful and delightful, and it considers that a sufficient contribution to the general good. And in return for its beauty and charm it expects fish, meat, and vegetables, a comfortable bed, a chair by the grate fire, and endless petting.
  • Cats — by day the most docile of God's creatures, every one of them in the night enlisting under the devil's banner — took the place by storm after the human voice had ceased.
    • W. H. Davies, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908), Ch. XXV
  • In Greenville, South Carolina, I had the honor of knowing a magnificent tom, weighing eight pounds, who opened doors by leaping up, seizing the knob forcibly between his fore-paws, and turning it, his only defect in the matter being that he could not close the door after him. Some years ago a family residing in New Haven, Connecticut, was alarmed by what the servants supposed to be a ghost, and the lady of the house, a thief. An outside door was repeatedly opened, no one entering but the cat. In spite of watching, nobody was discovered, and the mystery grew to be frightful. At last the ghost was caught, and it proved to be pussy. She had observed, she had reflected, she had drawn an inference; in other words, she had performed three distinct intellectual operations. The result was that she knew how to open doors by leaping up to the latch and pressing her paw on the thumb-piece.


It is a very distinct tribute to be chosen as the friend and confidant of a cat. ~ H. P. Lovecraft
  • The Naming of cats is a difficult matter;
    It isn't just one of your holiday games.

    You may think at first, I'm as mad as a hatter
    When I tell you a cat must have three different names.


  • Nothing's more playful than a young cat, nor more grave than an old one.


  • All cats can see futures, and see echoes of the past. We can watch the passage of creatures from the infinity of now, from all the worlds like ours, only fractionally different. And we follow them with our eyes, ghost things, and the humans see nothing.
  • If enough of us dream, if a bare thousand of us dream, we can change the world. We can dream it anew! A world in which no cat suffers from the malice of humans. In which no cats are killed by human caprice. A world that we rule.
  • Dream the world. Not this pallid shadow of reality. Dream the world the way it truly is. A world in which all cats are queens and kings of creation. That is my message. And I shall keep moving, keep repeating it, until I die. Or until a thousand cats hear my words, and believe them, and dream, and we come again to paradise.
  • Little one, I would like to see anyone — prophet, king or God — persuade a thousand cats to do anything at the same time.
    • Neil Gaiman, depicting a cynical cat, in Sandman #18: "A Dream of a Thousand Cats".


  • One cat just leads to another.
    • Ernest Hemingway, letter to his first wife Hadley Mowrer (25 November 1943), in Hemingway, Selected Letters 1917–1961, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: Scribner, 1981), p. 555.


  • Cat, I'm a kitty-cat, and I dance, dance, dance, and I dance, dance, dance.
    • Steve Ibsen, "The Kitty Cat Dance".
  • Tous les chats sont mortels. Socrate est mortel. Donc Socrate est un chat.
    • Translation: All cats are mortal. Socrates is mortal. Therefore Socrates is a cat.
    • Eugène Ionesco, Rhinocéros (1959), Act I.




  • Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.
  • Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many different ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.
  • ... I think ... of a young cat I once introduced to the joys of catnip.
    He took only the preoccupied, casual, dutiful sniff which was the routine response to any new object presented to his attention before he started to walk away. Then he did what is called in the slang of the theater "a double take." He stopped dead in his tracks; he turned incredulously back and inhaled a good noseful. Incredulity was swallowed up in delight. Can such things be? Indubitably they can. He flung himself down and he wallowed.


  • I like a cat because it does not disguise its selfishness with any flattering hypocrisies. Its attachment is not to yourself, but to your house. Let it but have food, and a warm lair among the embers, and it heeds not at whose expense. Then it has the spirit to resent aggression. You shall beat your dog, and he will fawn upon you; but a cat never forgives : it has no tender mercies, and it torments before it destroys its prey.
  • It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroe and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle's lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.
  • We own a dog — he is with us as a slave and inferior because we wish him to be. But we entertain a cat — he adorns our hearth as a guest, fellow-lodger, and equal because he wishes to be there. It is no compliment to be the stupidly idolised master of a dog whose instinct it is to idolise, but it is a very distinct tribute to be chosen as the friend and confidant of a cat.
  • The cat is a wild animal that inhabits the homes of humans.
  • Yes, it is strange that anyone should dislike cats. But cats themselves are the worst offenders in this respect. They very seldom seem to like one another.
    • C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (31 July 1962)
  • "A cat will never make friends with someone who is unable to love him.
    • leli "Wait no cat" (14 February 2002)


  • "What I like about cats is the way they ignore you. There's no telling what way they feel. If I want to be popular all I have to do is rattle the tin opener and he's all over me, purring and sharpening his back on my shins."
    • Bernard MacLaverty, short story, "Words the happy say" in The Great Profundo and other stories, Penguin Books, 1989, p. 14
  • The cat does not merely experience contentment, he exudes it. You cannot be in the presence of a contented cat and not have some of that contentment rub off on you. Which surely is a good part of the reason we love cats so.
  • Unlike a human smile, purring cannot be, as far as anyone knows, faked.
  • Many people feel more complete with a cat in their life, and I would not be surprised if cats felt the same way about us. I know that if I disappeared from the lives of my five cats, they would not be as happy as before. I know, because they wait for me to go on walks along the beach, though they could perfectly well go on their own. When I am with them, they react in such a strong way, gamboling, racing ahead of me, and then flopping down in my path, that it is obvious they derive great pleasure from my company. I find it hard to believe, though, that they could possibly enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. This is not surprising: we domesticated cats for our benefit. While they get something from it, we probably got the better deal.
  • I have no faith in cats: they are a cold-blooded race; they are the politicians among domestic animals; they care little who is master, or what are the over-turnings, so their pickings are secure; and what are their midnight caucuses but primary meetings?
  • Tout ce qui s'agite devient pour eux un objet de badinage. Ils croyent que la nature ne s'occupe que de leur divertissement.
    • Translation: Anything that moves becomes for them an object of fun. They believe that nature exists only for their amusement.
    • François-Augustin de Paradis de Moncrif, A History of Cats (Histoire des Chats, 1727), eleventh letter.
    • Version by Agnes Repplier: Wisely has Moncrif observed that a cat is not merely diverted by everything that moves, but is convinced that all nature is occupied exclusively with catering to her diversion.
      • Agnes Repplier, "Agrippina", in Essays in Idleness (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1893), p. 16.
  • Quand je me joue á ma chatte, qui sçait si elle passe son temps de moy plus que je ne fay d'elle.
    • Translation: When I play with my cat, who knows whether she isn't amusing herself with me more than I am amusing myself with her?
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays (1580), Book II, Ch. 12.






  • Don't want a cat
    Scratching its claws all over my
    Giving no love and getting fat
    Oh, you can get lonely
    And a cat's no help with that.
  • In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
    • Terry Pratchett is credited as author of this, as quoted in Chicken Soup for the Soul : What I Learned from the Cat (2009) by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark; also in Ghost Cats : Human Encounters with Feline Spirits (2007) by Dusty Rainbolt, p. 7
    • Variant: In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods. They have never forgotten this.
      • Quote attributed to unknown author, in Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Cats : And the People Who Love Them (2004) by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Sharon J. Wohlmuth, p. 1.




  • Le chat ne nous caresse pas, il se caresse à nous.
    • A cat doesn't caress us, it caresses itself on us.
    • Antoine de Rivarol, Rivaroliana, ed. Charles-Yves Cousin d'Avallon (Paris: J. M. Davi & Locard, 1812), p. 127


  • For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
    For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
    For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
    For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
  • I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor’s yard or crossing the highways is a public nuisance. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming.
    • Adlai E. Stevenson, as governor of Illinois, veto message (April 23, 1949), reported in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, ed. Walter Johnson (1973), vol. 3, pp. 73–74.
  • Moreover, cats perform useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combating rodents — work they necessarily perform alone and without regard for property lines.
    • Adlai E. Stevenson, as governor of Illinois, veto message (April 23, 1949), reported in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, ed. Walter Johnson (1973), vol. 3, pp. 73–74.


  • J'ai beaucoup étudié les philosophes et les chats. La sagesse des chats est infiniment supérieure.
    • Translation: I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.
    • Hippolyte Taine, epigraph for his book, Vie et opinions philosophiques d'un chat (1858). Paris: Rivages poche/Petit bibliothèque, 2014, back cover.
  • Cats, no less liquid than their shadows,
    Offer no angles to the wind.
    They slip, diminished, neat, through loopholes
    Less than themselves.
  • 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. Then that house was complete, and its contentment and peace were made manifest to the world by this symbol, whose testimony is infallible. A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
  • Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
    • Mark Twain, in Mark Twain's Notebook, prepared by Albert B. Paine (1935, reprinted 1972), pp. 236–37.
  • When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.
    • Mark Twain, "An Incident" from "Who Is Mark Twain" by Mark Twain
  • If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
  • ... a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever going to grow dim or doubtful.
  • A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.


  • We loitering in the garden—from her post
    Of purview at a window, languidly
    A great Angora watched his Collieship […]
    She seemed the Orient Spirit incarnate, lost
    In contemplation of the Western Soul!
    • William Watson, "A Study in Contrasts", Part II, lines 2–4, 14–15, in Odes and Other poems (London: John Lane, 1895), p. 58
In the eyes of a cat, all things belong to cats.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 91.
  • A cat may look at a king.
    • Title of a Pamphlet. (Published 1652).
  • Lauk! what a monstrous tail our cat has got!
  • Mrs. Crupp had indignantly assured him that there wasn't room to swing a cat there; but as Mr. Dick justly observed to me, sitting down on the foot of the bed, nursing his leg. "You know, Trotwood, I don't want to swing a cat. I never do swing a cat. Therefore what does that signify to me!"
  • Confound the cats! All cats—alway—
    Cats of all colours, black, white, grey;
    By night a nuisance and by day—
    Confound the cats!
  • The cat would eat fish, and would not wet her feet.
  • It has been the providence of nature to give this creature nine lives instead of one.
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