Curiosity killed the cat: one of the most famous sayings

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Curiosity killed the cat

“Curiosity killed the cat” is a proverb that refers to the dangers of unnecessary investigation and the consequences it might bring about.  You might have heard it in the past, either used by you or by someone else on you.

The reason why they used the concept of a cat probably has to do with the fact that cats like to explore.  But dogs like to explore a lot too.

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Origin of “Curiosity killed the Cat”

The original form of the proverb actually says “Care killed the cat“.  Here, “care” refers to “sorrow” or ” worry”.

The first printed reference of the proverb “curiosity killed the cat” is from English playwright Ben Johnson in his play from 1958, Every Man in His Humour.  This play, which was first performed by William Shakespeare, reads in one of its scenes:

…Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox on the hangman.

Shakespeare himself would use it in his play from circa 1599 Much Ado About Nothing.

What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

This was the use of the phrase until 1898 when Ebenezer Cobham Brewer included in his Dictionary of Phrases and Fable:

Care killed the Cat.
It is said that “a cat has nine lives,” yet care would wear them all out.

In modern writing, one of the earliest uses is that of James Allan Mair in his 1891 book called Proverbs and Family Mottoes.   The author wrote the phrase “Curiosity Killed the Cat” as a proverb.


One interesting variation of the phrase includes the rejoinder “but satisfaction brought him back” as a reference to the sense of joy that discovering something new might bring.

This could also be a reference to the thought of a cat having nine lives.

In Dogalize we know your cat is curious, but let´s not take it as far as getting him killed. Actually, we can help you take good care of your feline friend.  We have plenty of resources and information to help you out.  Visit us to learn more.