All languages have idioms, but Japan seems to really get into cats. Here are a few examples of cats in Japanese idioms.
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, is an English idiom meaning you can’t make something nice from rotten ingredients. Idioms cause real problems for translators. An idiom is a part of speech that has another meaning in its literal translation.
Cats in Japanese idioms
From Japanese translators Yasushi Aoki and Emi Kamiya:
The idiom: 猫をかぶる
Literal translation: “To wear a cat on one’s head.”
What it means: “You’re hiding your claws and pretending to be a nice, harmless person.”
The idiom: 猫の手も借りたい
Literal translation: “Willing to borrow a cat’s paws.”
What it means: “You’re so busy that you’re willing to take help from anyone.”
The idiom: 猫の額
Literal translation: “Cat’s forehead”.
What it means: “A tiny space. Often, you use it when you’re speaking humbly about land that you own.”
The idiom: 猫舌
Literal translation: “Cat tongue.
What it means: “Needing to wait until hot food cools to eat it.”
Pets Australia November 2017 Newsletter