Grinning Like a Cheshire Cat

Do you remember how in the first part of my pet story I told you how I dreamed of a dog, how I begged my parents and how I finally got my lovely puppy? Well, none of those feelings accompanied the arrival of the two cats that now live with me in my apartment.

So how did they get there, you might ask. I would say I thought of them, at first, as a necessary evil.  My old flat mate was moving to another city to study and I needed to find someone to replace him. The problem was, I felt I was too old to share my flat with someone I didn’t know. I mean, of course, I considered that possibility but I was really hoping to find someone among my friends and acquaintances. We had a nice apartment and I really didn’t want to have to move out either.

That’s how I came across my current flat mate. He was interested, willing to give up his old apartment, I’ve known him for a while so I knew we should get along pretty well and he said he liked vacuum cleaning. What more could you want? Everything would have been perfects had it not been for the cats. The ideal candidate for my new roomie came as an inseparable double… no, triple pack! He had two male cats, each the size of a monster.

I needed a night or two to sleep on it. How would I, a resolute dog person, survive under one roof with two giant cats? I was quite desperate, though – the date when my current flatmate was moving out was imminent.  So I reluctantly agreed to take on the cats and the new flat mate, and that’s how I ended up living with two cats.

So I decided to wait and see which way the cat would jump. Whereas one of the cats (the fatty, named Ernie) turned out to be merely the cat version of a dog – gentle, soft and utterly unaware of the fact that he could use his teeth and claws to attack, the other one (a tiger-like creature called Bert) is evil and treacherous. He would climb on my lap, lie down and demand me to stroke him and once he had become bored he would just stand up and show his impatience or discontent by biting my elbow or (even worse) scratching my hands. Needless to say, we fight like cat and dog, which brings me to the linguistic part of my article. Here are some of my favourite ‘cat expressions’ –

it was enough to make a cat laugh (it was very, very funny)
to be like a cat on a hot tin roof or on hot bricks (so nervous or anxious that you cannot keep still or keep your attention on one thing)
to grin like a Cheshire cat (to smile broadly, especially in a self-satisfied way – to smile or grin inscrutably)
to let the cat out of the bag (to tell someone a secret, especially without intending to)
to look like something the cat brought or dragged in (to look very dirty or untidy)
to rain cats and dogs (to rain very hard)
there’s hardly enough room to swing a cat (used humorously to say that an area or room is not very big)
to think one is the cat’s whiskers GB or pajamas US or meow US (to think one is something very special)
when the cat’s away, the mice will play (a proverb used to say that people will not behave well when the person who has authority over them is not there)

[Polski]

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6 thoughts on “Grinning Like a Cheshire Cat”

  1. Pingback: Pierwsze koty za płoty - Lexiophiles

  2. Pingback: Grinning Like a Cheshire Cat – Lexiophiles

  3. We had a Danish landlady in Germany who was very taken with my younger son and his love for chocolate. She said they had a phrase to describe a kid like him — “Chocolate Cat”. (not sure if the expression was Danish or German in origin)
    Much later, I realized that we would say “Chocolate Puss”. Not quite the same, but an interesting similarity!

  4. Pingback: It’s a Dog’s Life - Lexiophiles

  5. very funny article – I live in natwich in cheshire and there is a hotel there called the cheshire cat! allthebest mark

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