Raining Cats and Dogs

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Teaching colloquial phrases can be a lot of fun. For those like “A stitch in time saves nine” I can explain culturally how it developed and the literal meaning behind it; however, those like “Raining cats and dogs” seem to defy any logical explanation. Regardless of (or should I say “because of”) its silliness I like to teach it to people in Japan.

Thursday night I was teaching a private class at my home classroom. Suddenly I heard a loud thud like someone had slammed into the window. I ran through the kitchen and out the sliding door and heard something scurrying across my corrugated plastic awning. I pulled the large work light from the shed and started scanning around, this generated more scurrying sounds. Strangely, the first and second sets of sounds both seemed like an animal had escaped, but I still sensed something was close at hand. My rear neighbor came out and two kids came riding up the alley on bikes. The kids almost fell off their bikes when a less than attractive cat bolted from behind the sheds, ran between my neighbor and her house, and scurried into another yard.

I recognized the cat from my 5am howling wake-up call. Early in the morning, two cats were prepping for a very loud brawl. One was under my car, right outside my window. When I realized the howling was not subsiding I had gone out and jolted my car, to see this same cat flee across the street.

My only guess is that this troublemaker was getting into a fight on my roof and fell to the awning. After my class I went out and figured out how to get everything back in shape. I hope it is just raining cats; if a dog fell off my roof, I’m sure the awning would shatter.

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4 Responses to “Raining Cats and Dogs”

  1. Dorothy W. Says:

    The history of colloquial phrases is quite fascinating, isn’t it? I love the way they can reveal things about our history. But I do wonder where raining cats and dogs came from …

  2. Stefanie Says:

    What a great story! If it evers rains dogs, I hope they are chihuahuas!

  3. びっくり Says:

    Actually the neighbor’s terrier is only about a kilogram or so. Those might be OK, but I still think water’s best. 🙂

  4. びっくり Says:

    Oh, just tried to research this phrase of uncertain origin. There were many literary references, but not definitive answer. It looks like it is at least 350 years old, so we can’t just ask our grandparents where it came from. This related reference from 1815 was frightening:

    “I’ll be even with you, if it rains pitchforks – tines downwards.”

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