The Cat and The Mice

A cat came to a house with mice and started to feast. The mice hid and the cat, thinking to fool them, hung itself from a peg as a bag. Didn’t work.

Do not put yourself at the mercy of a known enemy.

JonesV.S. Vernon Jones Version

There was once a house that was overrun with Mice. A Cat heard of this, and said to herself, “That’s the place for me,” and off she went and took up her quarters in the house, and caught the Mice one by one and ate them. At last the Mice could stand it no longer, and they determined to take to their holes and stay there. “That’s awkward,” said the Cat to herself: “the only thing to do is to coax them out by a trick.” So she considered a while, and then climbed up the wall and let herself hang down by her hind legs from a peg, and pretended to be dead. By and by a Mouse peeped out and saw the Cat hanging there. “Aha!” it cried, “you’re very clever, madam, no doubt: but you may turn yourself into a bag of meal hanging there, if you like, yet you won’t catch us coming anywhere near you.”


If you are wise you won’t be deceived by the innocent airs of those whom you have once found to be dangerous.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Cat and The Old Rat)

Hanging Cat

Milo Winter (1919)

There was once a Cat who was so watchful, that a Mouse hardly dared show the tip of his whiskers for fear of being eaten alive. That Cat seemed to be everywhere at once with his claws all ready for a pounce. At last the Mice kept so closely to their dens, that the Cat saw he would have to use his wits well to catch one. So one day he climbed up on a shelf and hung from it, head downward, as if he were dead, holding himself up by clinging to some ropes with one paw.

When the Mice peeped out and saw him in that position, they thought he had been hung up there in punishment for some misdeed. Very timidly at first they stuck out their heads and sniffed about carefully. But as nothing stirred, all trooped joyfully out to celebrate the death of the Cat.

Just then the Cat let go his hold, and before the Mice recovered from their surprise, he had made an end of three or four.

Now the Mice kept more strictly at home than ever. But the Cat, who was still hungry for Mice, knew more tricks than one. Rolling himself in flour until he was covered completely, he lay down in the flour bin, with one eye open for the Mice.

Sure enough, the Mice soon began to come out. To the Cat it was almost as if he already had a plump young Mouse under his claws, when an old Rat, who had had much experience with Cats and traps, and had even lost a part of his tail to pay for it, sat up at a safe distance from a hole in the wall where he lived.

“Take care!” he cried. “That may be a heap of meal, but it looks to me very much like the Cat. Whatever it is, it is wisest to keep at a safe distance.”


The wise do not let themselves be tricked a second time.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A certain house was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this, made her way into it and began to catch and eat them one by one. Fearing for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their holes. The Cat was no longer able to get at them and perceived that she must tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose she jumped upon a peg, and suspending herself from it, pretended to be dead. One of the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and said, “Ah, my good madam, even though you should turn into a meal-bag, we will not come near you.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Cat and MiceA CERTAIN house was much infested with Mice; but at last they got a Cat, who catched and ate every day some of them. The Mice, finding their numbers grow thin, consulted what was best to be done for the preservation of the public, from the jaws of the devouring Cat. They debated, and came to this resolution, that no one should go down below the upper shelf. The Cat, observing the Mice no longer came down, as usual, hungry, and disappointed of her prey, had recourse to this stratagem; she hung by her hinder legs on a peg which stuck in the wall, and made as if she had been dead, hoping by this lure to entice the Mice to come down. She had not been in this posture long, before a cunning old Mouse peeped over the edge of the shelf, and spoke thus: Aha, my good friend, are you there? there you may be! I would not trust myself with you, though your skin were stuffed with straw.


Prudent folks never trust those a second time, who have deceived them once. And, indeed, we cannot well be too cautious in following this rule; for, upon examination, we shall find, that most of the misfortunes which befal us, proceed from our too great credulity. They that know how to suspect, without exposing or hurting themselves, till honesty comes to be more fashion, can never suspect too much.

Whittingham - Cat and Mice

C. Whittingham (1814)

JBR CollectionJRB Collection

Cat and The Mice

Ernest Griset (1874)

A certain house was much infested by mice; the owner brought home a Cat, a famous mouser, who soon made such havoc among the little folk, that those who remained resolved they would never leave the upper shelves. The Cat grew hungry and thin in consequence, and, driven to her wit’s end, hung by her hind legs to a peg in the wall, and pretended to be dead. An old mouse came to the edge of the shelf, and, seeing through the deception, cried out, “Ah, ah, Mrs. Pussy! We should not come near you, even if your skin were stuffed with straw.”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

There was a house mightily troubled with mice, and a notable cat there was, that time after time had pick’d up so many of ’em, that they agreed among themselves to keep above in the cieling; for they found that upon the plain floor there was no living for ’em. This spoil’d pusses sport, unless she could find a way to trepan them down again. So she leapt up to a pin that was driven into the wall, and there hung like a polcat in a warren, to amuse them. The mice took notice of it, and one wiser then the rest stretched out his neck to learn the truth of the matter, and so soon as ever he found how ’twas, Ah, says he, you may hang there ’till your heart akes; for if you were but a dish-clout, as you are a counterfeiting devil of a cat, here’s not a creature will come near ye.


Let no man lay himself at the mercy of a known enemy, under any shew, or pretence whatsoever; for he forfeits his discretion, even though he should happen to save his carcass, and his fortune.

1001Mures et Catus Mortem Simulans

Catus, cum pistoris domum ingressus est, quam plurimos invenit mures et, nunc unum nunc alterum devorando, tam caute patrifamilias providebat ut paucos relinqueret. Mures interim, cum ante oculos habuissent diuturnam illorum caedem, consilium ceperunt quo pacto catum vorabundum evitarent. Post varias disceptationes, concludebant tandem ut in locis occultis altissimisque remanerent, ne descendendo in praedam cato venirent. Catus, hoc consilio intellecto, se mortuum fingebat, cum unus ex murium senioribus ab alto exclamavit, “Euge, amice! Non cato credendum est, ne mortuo quidem.”

Perry #079