12 German Cat Idioms & Phrases

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This is a list of 12 common used German idioms or sayings that are all about cats! The literal translations of these German cat idioms into English are sometimes just hilarious. Let us know in the comments below if you have similar sayings in your language or maybe a different idiom for the same meaning!


German // English translation // meaning

  1. Nachts sind alle Katzen grau –  At night, all cats are grey. meaning: everything looks the same at night/in the dark, the dark can make differences dissapear
  2. die Katze aus dem Sack lassen –  To let the cat out of the bag. meaning: to give away a longer held secret
  3. die Naschkatze – a “snack cat”, meaning: similar to having a sweet tooth
  4. Es ist nur einen Katzensprung entfernt – It is only a cat’s jump away, meaning: it is very close, nearby
  5. Ist die Katze aus dem Haus, tanzen die Mäuse auf dem Tisch – When the cat is out of the house, the mice are dancing on the table, meaning: As soon as there is no one to watch over you (like a boss or parent), everyone is doing whatever they want
  6. die Katzenwäsche – cat bath, meaning: a short, not very thorough body care
  7. Katzenjammer – cat’s lamentation, meaning: sad mood, the blues
  8. wie Katz und Maus like cat and mouse, meaning: like opposites or enemies
  9. Das ist für die Katz’! this is for the cat! – meaning: it is in vain, it is for nothing
  10. wie die Katze um den heißen Brei herumlaufen – to walk like a cat around the hot porridge, meaning: to beat about the bush (to not say what’s on your mind right away)
  11. einen Kater haben – to have a (male) cat, meaning: to have a hangover
  12. der Muskelkater – the muscle cat, meaning: sore muscles

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