Skip to main content

Sailor's Jargon "Cat's Paws"

Our long association with the domestic cat has resulted in a lot of sayings and superstitions based on the cat. This may, in part, be due to people's perception of the cat as slightly mysterious and aloof. One saying is "cat's paws". Sailors used this phrase to mean flaws or ripples on the surface of water.  When the surface of the water was disturbed for a long time it was referred to a "cat's skin".

I am not sure where the "cat's paws" term came from except for the obvious: a cat will paw at water and disturb it causing it to ripple.

Apparently there is an old Hungarian proverb, "as a cat does not die in water, its paws disturb the surface" which is mean to be the origin of "cat's paws". Also this Hungarian phrase is meant to have led to sailors throwing cats in to a dead calm sea as a charm to change the weather.

On the subject of weather, an old phrase from some parts of England is a "cat's nose", which was a reference to a north-westerly wind. There are other associations between cat and weather for some strange reason.

For example, in Germany if it rained when women were putting the washing out to dry it was a sure sign that a cat had been ill-treated.

There are many other sayings that incorporate the cat. You can read about some at cat history.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cat Ear Mites

Brown gunge. Yes, I know this is a ferret! It does show the build up of dark brown to black ear wax caused by the presence of the cat ear mites in the outer ear canal. This parasite is not restricted to the domestic cat, which makes this photo valid and a useful illustration (I was unable to find a suitable photo of a cat with the condition). Photo Stacy Lynn Baum under a creative commons license. Ear mites (minute crab like creatures) are one of the causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal (scientific term for this inflammation is Otitis externa ). The outer ear canal is the tube that runs from outside to the ear drum (the pathway for the reception of sound), which can be seen when looking at the ear. Otitis externa affects humans and often swimmers as it is called "swimmer's ear" in humans. This YouTube video show ear mites under a microscope. They are not actually in the ear in this video. There are many possible causes of Otitis externa in c

Feline Mange

I'll write about three types of feline mange (a) feline scabies or head mange (b) demodectic mange and (c) sarcoptic mange. The source material is from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the best on the market . Generalised feline mange? Puerto Rico - Photo by Gotham City Lost And Found Feline Scabies - head mange Head mange or feline scabies, is a fairly rare condition in cats, which is caused by the Notoedres mite (head mite) that only reproduces on cats. The female mites burrow a few millimeters (that is a lot) into the skin around the head, and neck to lay eggs, which hatch and lay their own eggs. Their presence and activities causes intense itching that in turn causes the cat to scratch. The scratching will obviously be noticed and it will cause the skin to become red, scratched and worse infected. Symptoms: hair loss and scabs, thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching. Feline mange (head mange) is contagious and tr

Cat Anatomy

Cat Anatomy - Photo by Curious Expeditions . The picture above was taken at Wax Anatomical Models at La Specola in Florence, Italy. The photograph is published under a creative commons license kindly granted by the photographer. I am sorry if it is a bit gruesome. It is pretty well all I could find as an illustration that was licensed for publication. Cat Anatomy is a very wide ranging subject. The anatomy of a cat is very similar to human anatomy. If you were writing a biology book for students of biology you would go through every part of the a cat's anatomy in some detail. It would be similar to writing a book about the human anatomy. It would be a thick book and pretty boring for your average internet surfer. So, how do you limit such a big subject and make this post meaningful? The answer I think lies in doing two things: Having a quick general look at cat anatomy - an overview and; Focusing on the areas of cat anatomy that are particular to the cat and of parti