Scalded cat fears cold water: the cat and water, a long story

Scalded Cat Fears Cold Water: The Cat And Water, A Long Story

You have to go back to Middle Ages to see the expression “scalded cat fears cold water”. What does this formula mean? Who do we owe it to? Does it reflect the reality ? The cat and the water, a duo that makes sparks…

What Does The Expression “Scalded Cat Fears Cold Water” Mean?

The expression “scalded cat fears cold water” means that our caution redoubles following a misadventure. Thus, those who have had an unfortunate experience will be wary if an identical event is looming. The formula implies distrust excessive towards the mere appearance of what can hurt – an object or a situation – and which nevertheless presents no hazard. The term “scalded” implies the fact of having pulled the lessons of a test and to guard against it. In the same spirit, we also say “who has suffered fears suffering”. others LANGUAGES offer expressions with the equivalent meaning:

  • “Who has been burned by broth breathes even on yoghurt” (translation from the Greek);
  • “The castaway trembles, even before the calm waves” (from Latin);
  • “A donkey does not hit the same stone twice” (Dutch).

Why “Scalded Cat Fears Cold Water”?

The expression “scalded cat fears cold water” describes the reaction of the animal which, after having burned with hot water, would not dare go near it, for fear of suffer again. A feline does not have the capacity to know the temperature of the water: hot or cold, this one presents the same appearance to his eyes. The scalded animal will therefore be wary of all water. Associated with humans, the expression carries the same meaning: the person who has had a painful experience will avoid renew ; if she has been deceived, she will not allow herself to be deceived a second time. A life lesson echoed in a famous fable by Jean de la Fontaine : “The Raven, ashamed and confused; swore, but a little late, that they wouldn’t catch him anymore”.

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Since When Does “Scalded Cat Fear Cold Water”?

The genesis of the expression is located in the XIIe century, in the famous collection of stories entitled The Renart’s novel. The medieval work uses the phrase without however mentioning any animal in particular: “the scalded fears water” (eschaudez iaue creint). In the XIIIe we find the occurrence “scalded cat fears water“ without further precision (cat eschaudez iaue creint). Aiming to reinforce the idea of ​​mistrust excessive the addition of the adjective “cold” dates from 1584 under the pen of the French poet and critic Adrien Turneb : “The cat once scalded fears cold water”. The expression, as we know it today, made its official entry into the dictionary Franco-English by Randle Cotgrave, in 1611, in the form “the scalded cat fears water though’t be cold”). The same author proposes a variant with the word dog taken up by several authors, despite the cat’s well-known aversion to water.

Are Cats Really Afraid Of Water?

The answer is yes. The cat is reputed not to like water for various reasons among which we can cite:

  • His origins. Most current domestic feline breeds originated in desert regions of the Middle East. Adapted to an arid environment, the animal is therefore not “programmed” genetically to love water;
  • Her coat. The cat does not have a water-repellent undercoat or an insulating layer of fat. Not only is it not protected against cold but he does not have the reflex to snort like a dog does. Its fur therefore remains wet and thus prolongs its thermal discomfort;
  • His physical abilities. Although most cats know how to swim by instinct, they do not have the strength to swim long distances. On the other hand, the water weighs down their coat with the consequence of slowing down their movements. This hindrance makes them vulnerable and the feeling of not being able to flee in case of danger displeases them greatly.
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Do Some Cats Like Water?

The answer is still yes. Some breeds are not afraid to bathe because they have been selected in natural environments marked by the presence of water. This is particularly the case of breeds following:

  • Abyssinian;
  • Turkish Angora;
  • Bengal;
  • Maine Coon;
  • Norwegian;
  • Siberian;
  • Turk from Van.

The Cat And Water: Impossible Loves?

There repulsion nature that the cat feels for water really complicates the project of giving it a bath. Unless he rolled himself in an unsavory material, the feline does not need to go under water. All domestic cats devote long hours – almost a third of their waking time – to their toilet daily. Thanks to its flexibility, the animal contorts itself to lick all the parts of its body, striving to reach the most inaccessible places. In addition to cleaning his hair, licking gives him an effect soothing who calms him down when he feels frustrated. This is the case, for example, when he wants to go out but he raining. And the rain… it gets wet!

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