there's more than one way to skin a cat

anyone have any idea where that particular saying came from?
my father asked that the other day. it’s a mildly intriguing question. who skins cats, and why would it be important that there would be more than one way to do so?

This won’t answer the question, so I probably shouldn’t bother, but…

One of my sister’s favorite variations of that saying is, “There’s more than one way to kill a cat besides choking it with butter.”

I’m supposing that this also deviates from the meaning of the original phrase in that it not only implies that there’s a different way to finish a task, but a better one. Why maiming or killing cats was chosen to be the task in the expression, I don’t know, unless it just has to do with the general unpopularity of cats in Western history with their reputation as witches’ familiars or omens of bad luck.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

This reminds me of a great quote from Duckman

“I know 1000 ways to kill a man”
“Like gluing a jar of rats to his face and then putting a lit blow torch to one end of the jar so the rats have to eat their way though his face?”

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

Just a thought, no real evidence.

I bet it has something to do with witchcraft. Cats sometimes are assumed to be familiars. If you maim some innocent animal, then the “witch” down the road won’t be able to cast “evil spells” on you. She may even confess, saving you the trouble of torturing her before you burn her at the stake.

Just a thought.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat”, he said, as he pinned its little paws to the board.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Hunter Thompson

I found an interesting word origins site.

According to it, the phrase was originally, “…skin a catfish,” which makes a trifle more sense. Everybody knows cats don’t make good eatin’.

The QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, by Robert Hendrickson, copyright 1997, says:

No catfish here?

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Dad used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat than stickin’ his head in a boot jack and yankin’ on his tail”. This implies a cat, I guess. Course, Dad drank like a fish.

There IS more than one way to skin a cat. But there ain’t no way to do it so the cat’ll like it.

Lots and lots of catnip.

I had always assumed that the saying implied that the different ways to accomplish something made no difference in the end product. This is exemplified with skinning a cat: No matter how you do it, you’ve still got a cat with no skin.

This, I suppose is because I never thought it meant that there was a better way then the way the task was being accomplished, rather that any method which achieved the desired result was as good as any. As long as I don’t have to eat my cat with fur on it, you can skin it anyway you please…

And you don’t skin catfish before you eat it. You scale it, which is the equivalent of shaving it. You eat it with the skin on.

Jason R Remy

“One pill makes you taller, and one pill makes you small, but the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all”
– Jefferson Airplane * White Rabbit * (Slick, G. 1966)

“There’s more than one way to shave a cat…”
Nah, doesn’t work for ME.

I’m supposing that this also deviates from the meaning of the original phrase in that it not only implies that there’s a different way to finish a task, but a better one.[/quote}

My experience in hearing this expression has been in situations where the most straightforward means of accomplishing an end is blocked by circumstance and an alternative course must be pursued. Just $0.02.

Yeah, but there’s only one really proper way to skin a cat(fish) – nail its head to a board and yank off the skin with a pair of pliers.

Yup, you don’t scale a catfish, you skin the fucker. Just as described, nail, picnic table and pliers and then you yank the skin off like a sock. Why catfish have a skin (or skinlike scales maybe?) and other fish don’t is beyond be. There, on the other hand, ain’t no ther way to skin a catfish thats worth a damn.

You’re just not cookin’ 'em right.


After skinning a cat in Zoology class, I really don’t have any inclination to learn other methods.

So, why is it a cat that one attempts to spin in an enclosed space in order to establish that there is not enough room to spin one? Why not a dog, chipmunk, ardvark, or whatever?

Because cats make the best sound when swung around.
Or so I’ve been told.
By a complete stranger.
Oh, shit. Michelle’s gonna kill me.

Well, if you don’t have room to even swing a chipmunk, I guess you really do have problems.

But I’m wondering if you can’t really nail the skin of the catfish to the table and pull the fish out of the skin.

Ray (Meowrr!=There’s more than one place to scratch a human.)