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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. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.