Raining Cats and Dogs fabric TT-C1369 by scruffyquilts on Etsy
But, with all the rainy days, we have been able to spend some quality time at the dig house with some other teammates: a sweet old dog that one of my teammates saved from the street, affectionately named Paşa–the title of an official in the Ottoman empire–as well as some feline friends. We adopted a pregnant cat, sarcastically named Sefile, or “miserable one,” who gave birth to her kittens the day after I arrived on site! The whole team has been making sure that she and her new babies are comfortable, setting up a padded box for their home. The four kittens have already been claimed by team members and will have new homes after theseason. For the first few weeks after they were born, they did not open their eyes and only snuggled with each other and their mother all day.
One possible explanation for the figure of speech is that, during the Middle Ages, heavy rains caused the streets in England to flood. These “raging rivers of filth,” as Farmers’ Almanac contributing editor described them, were generally filled with trash and waste, including the corpses of stray cats and dogs.
From Gérard Joannès: I know the phrase it’s raining cats and dogs is a bit outdated, but do you have any idea about its origin?The most favoured one in the references I have found is mythological. It seems that cats were at one time thought to have influence over storms, especially by sailors, and that dogs were symbols of storms, often accompanying images and descriptions of the Norse storm god Odin. So when some particularly violent tempest appeared, people suggested it was caused by cats (bringing the rain) and dogs (the wind).The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs. Other suggestions include derivation from a similar sounding but unspecified Greek aphorism which meant “an unlikely occurrence”, or that it is a corrupted version of a rare French word, catadoupe, meaning a waterfall. It has also been suggested that at one time the streets of British towns were so poorly constructed that many cats and dogs would drown whenever there was a storm; people seeing the corpses floating by would think they had fallen from the sky, like the proverbial rains of frogs.There are other similes which employ falls of improbable objects as figurative ways of expressing the sensory overload of noise and confusion that can occur during a violent rainstorm; people have said that it’s raining like pitchforks (first recorded in 1815), hammer handles, and even chicken coops. It may be that the version with cats and dogs fits into this model, without needing to invoke supernatural beliefs or inadequate drainage.There is, I have to report, no evidence that I can find for any connection between the saying and the mythology other than the flat assertions of writers. The phrase first appears in its modern form in Jonathan Swift’s A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation in 1738: “I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs”, though a variant form is recorded in 1653 in City Wit, a work of the English playwright Richard Brome, in which he wrote “It shall raine ... Dogs and Polecats”, which seems to suggest a stranger and less easily comprehensible origin.As Swift penned these lines in 1710, nearly 30 years before he wrote the book in which raining cats and dogs appears for the first time, it just might suggest that he was quoting an expression he himself had created.