September is Happy Cat month, at least according to the CATalyst Council, a coalition of the veterinary community, academia, nonprofits, industry and animal welfare organizations.
Well cats should be happy – they get nine lives (in Turkish as well as English – “kedi dokuz hayatları kedisi var” and land on their feet. Unless they’re Italian cats, in which case they only get seven lives “Avere sette vite come i gatti” Cat idioms crop up across the world. In Finnish if you’re taking a long time to get to the point you are said to be “kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa” – pacing around hot porridge like a cat.
And the link between cats and not speaking isn’t limited to Finnish. In English and Spanish we ask a silent person if the cat has got their tongue – “¿Se te ha comido la lengua el gato?” And in French your husky voice is down to a cat in the throat “Avoir un chat dans la gorge”. Then there are things we do to cats that would make them very unhappy – In French if you have other things to do you have other cats to whip “J'ai d'autres chats à fouetter !”; in English if you have a difficult problem to solve you may reflect that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”; and if you’re feeling cooped up you are like a cat in the house all day (整天猫在屋里), according to the Chinese.