a cat in gloves catches no mice

Restraint and caution (or ‘pussyfooting’) achieve nothing. Cf. 14th-cent. Fr. chat engaunté ne surrizera ja bien, a gloved cat will never mouse well.

1573 J. SANFORDE Garden of Pleasure 105 A gloued catte can catche no myse.

1592 G. DELAMOTHE French Alphabet II. 1 A mufled Cat is no good mouse hunter.

1758 B. FRANKLIN Poor Richard’s Almanack (Preface) Handle your Tools without Mittens; remember that the Cat in Gloves catches no Mice.

1857 DICKENS Little Dorrit II. xiv. Mrs. General, if I may reverse the common proverb..is a cat in gloves who will catch mice. That woman..will be our mother-in-law.

1922 E. PHILLPOTTS Red Redmaynes ix. As we say in Italy, ‘if you put a cat into gloves, she will not catch mice.’ You have been in gloves ever since you knew Madonna was a widow.

1979 Country Life 21 June 2047 There is hardly one [cat] but flings back the lie in the face of the old saying that a cat in gloves catches no mice. Why dirty your paws when your servants will do it for you?


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