Cat among the pigeons

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2008, 12:00am

Last week, we looked at phrases to do with man's best friend, the dog. Now let's look at the cat, another favourite friend.

Has the cat got your tongue?

Do you know the meanings of the following cat phrases?

1 There's not enough room to swing a cat

a. This space is very small

b. This place is very untidy

2 You don't have a cat in hell's chance

a. You have no chance of achieving what you intend to do

b. You will get that done easily and quickly

3 To put the cat among the pigeons

a. To open the door so the cat can go outside

b. To say or do something that causes trouble or makes a lot of people very angry

4 To play cat and mouse

a. To behave in a very childish way

b. To try to get the better of someone by tricking them into making a mistake so that you have an advantage over them

5 To look like something the cat's brought in

a. To look really glamorous

b. To look very untidy, dishevelled and dirty

6 To let the cat out of the bag

a. To give a secret away without intending to do

b. To go out and buy a new kitten

7 To act like a cat on a hot tin roof

a. To behave very bravely

b. To behave very nervously

8 Has the cat got your tongue?

a. Why are you not saying anything?

b. Why are you shouting so loudly?

Catty conversations

Complete these conversations with a cat phrase.

9 What's the matter with you? Why haven't you answered my question? Has ______________________________?

10 Oh, sit down and stop walking around the room! There's nothing to be nervous about. Stop acting like ______________________________. You're getting on my nerves.

11 The boss isn't pleased we know it's his 50th birthday next week. He'll blow his top when he finds out who has ______________________________.

12 I don't like the kitchen in her new flat. It's tiny. There isn't ______________________________.

13 You've really put ______________________________ by telling Jenny you saw her boyfriend last night. He was supposed to be in Shanghai visiting his parents.

14 You don't have a ______________________________ of getting through all that work by the end of the week. You should have started it earlier.

Cat words

What do these cat words mean?

15 a cat burglar

a. a thief who only steals domestic animals

b. a thief who enters a building by climbing over the roof

16 a cat o' nine tails

a. a cat with a very short tail

b. a whip made of nine pieces of rope or leather

17 a fat cat

a. a company boss who gets an enormous salary

b. a person with an enormous appetite

18 a marmalade cat

a. a child who loves to eat jam

b. a cat whose fur is dark orange with small stripes of brown or yellow

19 a scaredy-cat

a. someone who is easily frightened

b. someone who is afraid of animals

20 the cat's whiskers

a. a type of hat

b. an excellent person or thing

21 a catcall

a. a loud bang

b. a whistle or a shout expressing disapproval

22 a cat flap

a. a small flap in an outer door that allows a cat to go in and out of a flat or house

b. a gate in a park

Choose the correct word

Choose the correct word to complete these sentences.

23 The pianist played so badly there were (catcalls / fat cats) from the audience at the end of his performance.

24 Why won't you come into the haunted castle with me? Don't be such a (scaredy-cat / fat cat).

25 If we do get a kitten, we'll have to put a (cat burglar / cat flap) in the front door. I don't want to open the door every five minutes to let it in and out.

26 I'm selling all my shares in this company. All the (fat cats / scaredy-cats have got massive salary raises and that has cut down the profits for shareholders.

27 Have you seen the new Johnny Depp movie? It's brilliant. It really is the (cat's whiskers / cat burglar).


1. a; 2. a; 3. b; 4. b; 5. b; 6. a; 7. b; 8. a; 9. the cat got your tongue; 10. a cat on a hot tin roof; 11. let the cat out of the bag; 12. room to swing a cat; 13. the cat among the pigeons; 14. cat's chance in hell; 15. b; 16. b; 17. a; 18. b; 19. a; 20. b; 21. b; 22. a; 23. catcalls; 24. scaredy-cat; 25. cat flap; 26. fat cats; 27. cat's whiskers