Today, August 8, is International Cat Day. Why do cats have an international day? Because they've been a big part of human life for centuries! They've even had an influence on the English language, so we've picked out eight feline phrases to mark the occasion.\r\n1. Cat Got Your Tongue?\r\nSaying "Has the cat got your tongue?" is a light-hearted way to ask why someone is being quiet or not saying much:\r\nYou\u2019re very quiet, John. Cat got your tongue?\r\nSome theorize that this comes from the "cat o\u2019nine-tails," a multi-tailed whip once used in the navy (and certainly one way of making someone quiet down). But the ultimate origins of this feline phrase remain a mystery.\r\n2. Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat\r\nWe use this phrase to describe a very small or cramped space:\r\nThere wasn\u2019t enough room to swing a cat in my hotel room.\r\nThe first evidence of this phrase comes from 1665, although it was already in common use. It possibly originated as naval slang \u2013 another one that may come from "cat o\u2019nine-tails" \u2013 but, again, we don't know this for sure.\r\nOne thing we do know, though, is that real cats don't like to be swung around, so please don\u2019t try this phrase at home (even if you have the space)!\r\n3. Curiosity Killed the Cat\r\nThe proverb "curiosity killed the cat" means that being curious can get you into trouble. People therefore use it as a warning against inquisitive behavior or to stop someone asking unwanted questions.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_45296" align="aligncenter" width="582"] A curious cat, hopefully not in mortal danger.\r\n(Photo: Basile Morin)[\/caption]\r\n\r\nAn older version of this phrase is "care killed the cat," where "care" means "worry" or "sorrow," suggesting that worrying too much is bad for you. However, the "curiosity" version became more common in the 19th century.\r\n4. Cat Burglar\r\nA "cat burglar" is a thief who is also a skilled, agile climber (like a cat):\r\nThe cat burglar entered the building via a second-floor window.\r\nThe phrase was first used in 1907 to refer to Arthur Edward Young, a London thief who became known as the "cat burglar" because of his excellent climbing skills, which he used to break into several houses.\r\n5. Let the Cat Out the Bag\r\nIf you "let the cat out the bag," you reveal a secret, usually accidentally:\r\nWe planned a surprise party for Laura, but Kate let the cat out the bag.\r\nIt\u2019s sometimes (but wrongly) believed that this phrase comes from a scam where farmers would pretend to sell someone a pig in a tied bag, only for the buyer to get home and find a cat inside instead!\r\n6. Put the Cat Among the Pigeons\r\n"Put the cat among the pigeons" is a British idiom that means "cause trouble, anger or controversy." For example, we could say:\r\nThe teacher put the cat among the pigeons when he told the students they all had to stay behind after school.\r\nAnother version of this saying is "set the cat among the pigeons," but the meaning is the same. In either case, it should be obvious where this phrase comes from: if you put a cat among a group of pigeons, there will be a big disturbance as the birds try to escape the feline interloper!\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_45307" align="aligncenter" width="518"] Trouble brewing...[\/caption]\r\n\r\n7. Like the Cat That Got the Canary\r\nIf someone looks "like the cat that got the canary," they look very satisfied and happy with themselves. For instance:\r\nAfter winning the game, he grinned like the cat that got the canary.\r\nThis simile works well because cats often chase and catch birds. The British English version of this phrase, meanwhile, is the rather more bird-friendly "like the cat that got the cream."\r\n8. A Leopard Can\u2019t Change Its Spots\r\nWe use "a leopard can\u2019t change its spots" to mean that people can\u2019t change their character, even if they try very hard. This originally comes from the Old Testament, where it meant that someone who does evil can\u2019t become good. Now, though, we also use it in non-religious contexts:\r\nShe hoped he\u2019d change, but a leopard can\u2019t change its spots!\r\nWhat\u2019s your favorite feline phrase? Let us know in the comments below! And if you\u2019d like help with any aspect of your writing, why not try our outstanding proofreading services? Give them a go for free today!