Muffled Cats catch no mice. Italian: Gatta guantata non piglia sorce. Said of those who work in gloves for fear of soiling their fingers.
Not room to swing a Cat. Used to indicate that a space, room, house, etc., is very restricted and small. There are various suggested origins of the phrase. Swinging cats by their tails as a mark for sportsmen was once a popular amusement.
Cat. Cat was an abbreviation for Cat-o'-nine-tails and in view of the restricted space in the old sailing ships where the cat was often administered, it is most likely derived from swinging this particular kind of cat. Cat is also an old Scottish word for rogue, and if the derivation is from this, the "swing" is that of the condemned rogue hanging from the gallows.
See how the Cat jumps. See "which way the wind blows"; await the course of events, see what is going to happen before you pass an opinion, support a course of action or commit yourself. The allusion is either to the game of "tip-cat", in which before you strike you must watch which way the "cat" has jumped up.
Sick as a Cat. Cats are very prone to vomiting. Hence one is said to "cat" or "to shoot the cat" when vomiting.
The Cat's pyjamas. Something superlatively good; first rate; attractive. An American colloquialism in use by 1900 and current in England in the 1920s and 1930s. The cat's whiskers is used in the same way and with the same meaning.
To Cat the anchor. To secure the anchor on the cathead, a fitment on the ship's side near the hawse-pipe. It is used to hang the Bower Anchor, when the hawse-pipe is needed for the cable in securing to a buoy.
To fight like Kilkenny Cats. To fight till both sides have lost their all; to fight with the utmost determination and pertinacity. The story is that during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 Kilkenny was garrisoned by a troop of Hessian soldiers, who amused themselves by tying two cats together by their tails and throwing them across a clothes-line to fight. When an officer approached to stop the "sport", a trooper cut the two tails with a sword and the two cats bolted. When an explanation of the two bleeding tails was asked for, he was told that two cats had been fighting and devoured each other all but the tails.
To grin like a Cheshire Cat. An old simile popularized by Lewis Carroll: "please would you tell me," said Alice a little timidly, "why vour cat grins like that?" "It's a Cheshire cat," said the Duchess, "and that's why." - Alice in Wonderland (1865). The phrase has never been satisfactorily explained, but it has been said that Cheshire cheese was once sold moulded like a cat that appeared to be grinning. The waggish explanation is that the cats know that Cheshire is a Country Palatine and find the idea a source of perpetual amusement.
To lead a Cat and Dog life. To be always snapping and quarrelling, as a cat and a dog.
To let the cat out of the bag. To disclose a secret.
To live under the cat's foot. To be under Petticoat Government; to be henpecked. A mouse under the cat's paw lives but by sufferance and at the cat's pleasure.
To put the cat among the pigeons. To stir up trouble, to cause dissension. The allusion is obvious.
To turn cat-in-pan. To turn traitor, to be a turncoat. The phrase seems to be from the French: tourner cote en peine (to turn sides in trouble).