Weather Wise Kids: What does “raining cats and dogs” mean?

When someone says “it’s raining cats and dogs” you know they are referring to heavy rain, but just where did this silly phrase originate from?

Like most sayings the origin of this phrase dates very far back…possibly as early as the year 1651.

Since the phrase is so old, it is tricky to decide which theory is correct. Here are some of the most popular ideas:

Odin, the Norse God of Storms was often pictured with dogs and wolves,which were symbols of wind.

Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors.

Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).

“Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.

Finally, there is a theory that cats and dogs used to climb onto a roof to seek shelter from a storm, but would then be washed out due to heavy rains. However, a properly maintained thatch roof is naturally water resistant and slanted to allow water to run off.  In order to slip off the roof, the animals would have to be lying on the outside—an unlikely place for an animal to seek shelter during a storm.

Remember, it’s always important to bring your animals inside when we are expecting any type of extreme weather.


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