Curiosity – or let’s be honest – nosiness, is one of the inherent natural instincts of most humans. You’d be lying to yourself if you disagreed. In one way or another we are all inquisitive, questioning and sadly – suspicious. Mankind is a distrustful race , but it’s not our fault , if evolution didn’t make us this way society certainly did.
But why use man in a metaphor when there is an equally suspicious and even more cautious animal than man.
Something about their cold exteriors, their lack of response to emotion , their arrogance and their self seeking behavior – is alarming. It’s almost scary. I’m just putting it out there, there are some cat’s I know that could most definitely fit the criteria for a psychopath. (That’s superficial charm, lack of remorse and sensation seeking)
But enough of cat bashing. ( I’m a dog person – could you tell?)
Cat’s are inquisitive – I presume that’s why they like to enter every house in the neighborhood – maybe some form of covert espionage where they then report back to their owners about who has the biggest television. Keeping up with the Jones’ and all that.
But why did “Curiosity Kill The Cat” ? ( and did it kill the cat 9 times?)
The original metaphor was “Care Killed the Cat” where “care” was taken to mean “worry.”
The definitive origin of the saying is not known but the earliest written reference is in the 16th century play “Every Man in his Humour” by Ben Jonson. He wrote:
“Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care will kill a cat”
But since then nobody really knows where ” curiosity killed the cat ” came from. It’s a general consensus that the proverb was widely recognized by the start of the 20th century and most likely of British origin. There’s something about it -almost alliterative and musical in nature – I like this idiom. It does its job perfectly at warning you that you’re probably better off staying out of matters that you’re not involved in.
And if curiosity didn’t kill the cat – perhaps Schrödinger did!