Animal Sayings Updated to Animal-Friendly Sayings!

Animal Sayings Updated to Animal-Friendly Sayings is a clever approach to the way we talk about animals. 

A white dog with a scarf around her neck sitting at a park.

Have you ever noticed how many old sayings about animals are so barbaric? And many of these are said as part of everyday language. Of course, I’m from the Midwest so some of these might be a little more common in my neck of the woods. Here’s an example:

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Look away, little Kitty! They don’t mean that about you!

There are more than 80 million cat owners in the US alone. Are we really looking for multiple ways to skin cats?

I won’t stop here, because there’s more. Consider these sayings:

  • “Who let the cat out of the bag?”  What I want to know is who is putting cats in a bag in the first place?
  • “We need to find a way to kill two birds with one stone.”  Do we really?
  • “A bird in the hand is better than two in a bush.” Well, that depends on the perspective. I’m sure the birds in the bush would much rather be right where they are!

Pigs. I remember an older colleague once said, “It’s like shooting pigs in a ditch.” That’s not one you hear every day. Poor pigs. They have it rough. Another old saying about pigs says, “Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” (I wonder if that’s the one that was shot in the ditch?) I guess pigs have low standards because another one is, “Happy as a pig in slop.”

Dogs. It’s a dog-eat-dog world so I guess that explains why you can call someone a dog which implies that they’re not the best of characters. I’ve also heard, “Don’t beat a dead dog.” That’s nice. It’s not good to kick someone while they’re down. But the most interesting saying I’ve heard recently in the dog category is, “Shoot the dogs and chase the winners.”

I imagine you might be wondering who does this Namely Marly chick hang out with? Have you seen the emails with pictures of Deliverance-type people who shop at Wal-Mart? I might occasionally have encounters with these kinds of folks, but mostly I hear these old sayings in everyday conversations when I’m out and about with the average, civilized individual. Honestly!

I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Don’t open that can of worms.” That leads me to ask – who is putting worms in a can? What is the point of that? And don’t you want to open the can to let them out?

A snow-covered bird feeder with a tufted titmouse
A tufted titmouse gorging at our backyard feeder

There are a lot of animal sayings about how people eat. Jason eats like a horse. Jenna eats like a pig. But Kristi? She eats like a bird. I just want to make a point here – have you ever seen birds eat? We are constantly filling our birdfeeders. Birds. Eat. A. Lot!

You can also have a frog in your throat (poor frog) or you can gag a maggot. (Um, I have nothing good to say about maggots here, but I think they might be hard to gag.) You can get off your high horse (who is getting these horses high?) or you can be high on the hog.

Interestingly enough, working your way up the food chain is held in high regard, because it’s considered good to have the “heart of a lion.” (Figuratively speaking, that is.) But you’re also lucky to have a tiger by the tail or to own a rabbit’s foot (eeekh!).

I will end with a saying about one animal I love to hate. Squirrels. A person can be as “nutty as a squirrel” and I happen to think there’s an element of truth to this because I’ve seen squirrels playing in our back yard. They are really nutty. I will tell you later why I love to hate squirrels. I would never kill a fly (seriously, we have nets and we trap them and set ’em free), but I have my days where I contemplate what I would do to these squirrels. (Anyone with a garden and an oak tree will know what I mean.) My husband calls me a “speciesist” and I suspect he’s right on that one.

I guess living around so many omnivores, we’re just fish out of water. But that’s ok. We’re as happy as clams! So for now – see you later, alligator!

5 Responses to Animal Sayings Updated to Animal-Friendly Sayings!

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyStella Reply

    Interesting, I have thought these exact things when I hear sayings like that. I’m always like ‘what’?!!! The road to proper respect towards animals has many barriers along it’s way-it does seem that many people (even carnivores) are starting to get it (just wish it would happen faster)…

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Agreed! It is funny how many things are part of our every day life and we don’t even realize it.

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJessica {The Novice Chef} Reply

    Loved this post!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMindy@thesuburbanlife Reply

    So true! And I honestly hadn’t even put any thought into what some of these sayings mean. How about instead of “gag a maggot” we change it to “maggots make me gag?” Does that work? Great post! 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hey, that’s a great one! They certainly have that effect on me. Yeah, it cracks me up to see people in a business meeting say something like “more than one way to skin a cat.” Or “kill two birds with one stone.” I like to say instead, bake two loaves in one oven. That works a lot better.

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