cat's-paw

(redirected from a cat's paw)

cat's-paw

A person who is used by another to achieve some end, especially in a duplicitous or cynical manner. Taken from a fable about a monkey who tricks a cat into using his a paw to retrieve chestnuts from a fire. The phrase is sometimes spelled without a hyphen. I thought that Jake really loved me, but in the end, I was just a cat's-paw so he could stir up jealousy in his ex-boyfriend.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cat's paw

A dupe or tool for another, a sucker, as in You always try to make a cat's paw of me, but I refuse to do any more of your work. This term alludes to a very old tale about a monkey that persuades a cat to pull chestnuts out of the fire so as to avoid burning its own paws. The story dates from the 16th century and versions of it (some with a dog) exist in many languages.
See also: paw
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Caption: A cat's paw is a hard-working tool, responsible for emotions, protection, and cooling.
A CAT'S paw was amputated after getting snared in an illegal trap.
Vets are fighting to save a cat's paw after it was almost severed by an illegal gin trap in Northumberland.
A SICK attack in which a cat's paws were cut off was being investigated last night.
They are also used to mark a cat's presence in an area; when scratching at a tree trunk or a patch of turf, a cat's paws secrete substances called pheromones, whose odor is detectable to other felines.