Raining Cats and Dogs Idiom – What’s the meaning?

Hi humans, this is Studycat here and I have some idioms to tell you about. People use idioms a lot in English. Some are funny, some are silly and some are just really confusing, like the raining cats and dogs idiom.

It was one I studied a while ago. As you can imagine it grabbed my attention. To rain cats and dogs. It means to rain really heavily.

First I asked all my cat friends if they had ever rained from the sky and they all said no. Then, I asked some of the local cool dogs, not the annoying ones from across the park, the cool ones. They also told me they had never rained down on people.

So why do you humans say this? It is giving us a bad reputation and it’s confusing us at the same time. Anyway, I looked into it myself.

There are a few possible explanations for the use of this idiom. I don’t really like most of them as they are very unbelievable. Some say it is a reference to a long time ago when people thought that cats had influence over storms (we don’t but I won’t talk about that now). They also thought that dogs symbolised high winds and storms. No. Dogs are useless and cats don’t influence storms, honest.

Others said that in old times cats and dogs would hide in thatched roofs of houses and get washed out in heavy rains so it would look like it was raining cats and dogs. Come on! Please. We know it is going to rain well before most of you humans so that can’t be true. Yet another funny one is that the roads were so bad long ago  that when it really rained heavily cats and dogs would drown in the streets so it looked like it had rained cats and dogs. This one is just insulting. We know how to get away from the rain. We learn that very young.

It seems a famous human called Jonathan Swift used the idiom in ‘A Description of a City Shower’, in 1710.

However, there was a guy called Richard Brome who said “It shall raine… Dogs and Polecats” earlier in 1653. Polecats! What was he talking about. They are not even real cats! In 1738 Swift said “I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs”. This is the way we use the raining cats and dogs idiom today.

So, we can clearly see that it is unclear where this idiom comes from. It has rained other less intelligent animals though like fish, frogs, jellyfish, spiders and even worms. Us cats and even dogs are too clever to fall from the sky in heavy rain though. Till next time, Miaow.