#Caturday Resentment of Cats in My Youth

It’s no wonder it took me so long to warm up to cats. When I was young, cats were the source of a great deal of the sarcasm that came my way.

“Cats are like that,” I hear you say. But it isn’t cats who were sarcastic with me; it was adults, using cats as their vehicles.

If I was told, “Children should be seen and not heard,” so often that I fell silent, some adult was sure to say, “What’s wrong with you? Cat got your tongue?” Now, having browsed the internet, you may imagine the grim and ghastly explanations for the origin of this phrase I’ve come across, but I prefer the one on The Phrase Finder: Nobody knows. It has the dual qualities of being intriguing and irritating, like Louie Louie but shorter.

If I was instructed to do something and I had the audacity to ask, “What for?” (Being a child of the Midwest, I naturally pronounced it, “Whut fur?”), I was told, “Cat fur, to make a pair of kitten britches. Want a pair?” The Maven’s Word of the Day says that the phrase dates back to the 19th Century. It is probably why so many people in the 1800s ran off and became pirates.

Look, people. THESE are kitten britches:


Are we clear?

What were some stock phrases used to you when you were a child? “For God’s sake, stop it!” doesn’t count.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Think of a phrase used to children and have it irritate your main character as a child.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “#Caturday Resentment of Cats in My Youth

  1. Jane

    April 20, 2013 at 9:31am

    How about phrases that are irritating when used to you as an adult??

    Anyway, you know all my childhood phrases aren’t fit to print in a superior blog such as yours.

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  2. Andrea Gilbey

    April 20, 2013 at 11:54am

    My Mum’s reply to “what for” was, and still is, “fives, to make sixes with. ” No, I’ve no idea, either.

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  3. Amanda borenstadt

    April 20, 2013 at 12:58pm

    My mom constantly said, “Amanda, Amanda, organize your life” because I was always misplacing things and had a messy room. I’m still that way.

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  4. Andrea Gilbey

    April 20, 2013 at 1:35pm

    @Marian Allen – As a small child, I knew that “fives” was a game, as in five stones, I suppose, but “sixes” were groups of Brownies, so, yes, it drove me crackers!

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  5. Tony Acree

    April 20, 2013 at 5:28pm

    Hmmm. “If you keep making that face, it will freeze that way.” So, I kept making the same silly face trying to make it happen. “If you eat your spinach, you’ll grow up tall and strong.” When I pointed out to my mother she ate spinach but was still short, she made me eat two helpings instead of one. “If you don’t quit playing with (insert inanimate object here)you’ll poke your eye out.” When I pointed out other kids were playing with the same things and they could all see just fine, I got sent to my room. Where I played with all the things I was told would make me blind. For the record, I can still see just fine.

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