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Having Kittens

This is the origin of the English phrase, "having kittens". It is used like this. "She'll have kittens when she finds out about it". So the phrase is intended to tell us that the person in question will be distraught and upset when she finds out about something. For example, she may have been away on holiday and her neighbor discovers that her home has been burgled and speaks to a friend about it and uses the phrase in the conversation.

At first sight there is no obvious connection between having kittens and being distraught. The only possible connection is the case of a pregnant women having a miscarriage because she is very upset, emotionally distressed and possibly angry. But why kittens? {note: In the English language the verb "to have" can be used to mean to give birth to, "She's going to have twins, you know"}

Surprisingly as recently as the 17th century a women might cite that she had, "cats in the belly", as a reason why she needed an abortion. And she would have meant it, it seems. This was a throwback to medieval times when people believed in witches and when black cats were seen as witches "familiars" (companions).

During, what seems now like a dark period of English life, if a pregnant women was in pain it was sometimes believed that she was bewitched and that she had kittens inside her and the kittens were clawing at her womb. It was also thought that as she was a witch she could destroy the kittens to terminate the pregnancy.

The connection then is made between being in great discomfort, emotional distress and pain to the subject of giving birth to kittens ("having kittens").

This is the real thing! No humans, no superstition. Just plain simply kitten birth. You know cats in medieval times didn't have ridiculous superstitions which caused untold misery to people (witches were burnt). Today in part of Africa some people still believe in withcraft and it still causes untold suffering and criminality:

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