People are only just realising where the phrase ‘cats have 9 lives’ comes from
18th August 2022

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Have you ever wondered what your furry friend is thinking? Wonder no more, because cat experts have delved into the mind of the feline to reveal their "true capabilities" for a new Netflix series called Inside the mind of a Cat.

There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to cats, including that they are inferior to dogs, according to the documentary.

One saying you might have heard about the mysterious cat is that it "has nine lives" – but do you know where the saying comes from? And is there any truth to it?

READ MORE: Adorable cats break the internet after snap of them hugging on roof goes viral

Here we explore the origins of the myth.

Do cats have nine lives?

Although cats are known for surviving extremely tricky situations due to their flexibility and speed, they aren't able to cheat death.

So sadly, a cat doesn't have nine lives, and the myth is actually inconsistent in different countries.

For example, in Arabic-speaking countries cats are said to have six lives, while in Italy, Greece and Brazil they are thought to have seven.

Although there isn't any truth to the myth, cats can still live to a very healthy age. According to, life expectancy depends on many different things, including health, diet and environment.

The average lifespan for a domestic cat is about 12-14 years. However, some pet cats can live to their 20s.

Although living longer than that is very rare, the oldest cat in the world, Crème Puff in the US, lived to be 38 years and three days old.

Where does the phrase 'cats have nine lives' come from?

You may be surprised to know that the origin of the nine lives myth actually comes rom an English proverb.

It reads: "A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays."

This proverb was written to describe a ca's life cycle – from tiny kitten to adult cat, and then a calmer senior cat.

However, it's possible that people began to take the saying literally – believing a cat has nine lives.

Alternative suggestions to where the saying came from, is that it has its roots in Ancient Egypt.

The Ancient Egyptians worshipped gods that resembled cats. For example, the sun god Atum-Ra was believed to take the form of a cat so he could visit the underworld.

The sun god was believed to have given birth to eight other gods. Some people believe that this is where the saying of nine lives came from, because nine gods, plus Atum-Ra equals nine lives.

The number nine is significant in many cultures. In China it's considered lucky because it sounds the same as the word for "long-lasting".

Nine is also considered lucky in Christian tradition, as it represents a trinity (three times three).

Did you know why we say that cats have nine lives? Let us know in the comments below

Read more

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  • All cats are psychopaths and contain 'craziness', top scientists finally confirm

  • Netflix
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