Paul in South Bend, Indiana, notes that the French equivalent of the phrase have other fish to fry, meaning to have other things to do, is avoir d’autre chats a fouetter, or literally, to have other cats to whip. In Italian, a similarly creepy phrase that means the same thing is to avere altre gatte da pelare, or to have other cats to skin. To have a frog in one’s throat means to have difficulty speaking; in French, the expression is avoir un chat dans la gorge, or to have a cat in the throat. English also has other expressions reflecting a less-than-humane attitude toward felines, including more than one way to skin a cat, not enough room to swing a cat, or to let the cat out of the bag. Dogs don’t fare much better in some English sayings, such as to stick around until the last dog is hung and more ways of killing a dog than choking him with pudding. All of these expressions reflect a time when people had different attitudes toward the kinds of animals we now regard as pets. This is part of a complete episode.

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