Cat Among the Pigeons

Posted on the 02 June 2021 by Idioms


put the cat among the pigeons,
set the cat among the pigeons,
throw the cat among the pigeons


  • do or say something that causes trouble and make a lot of people angry or worried
  • refers to saying or doing something that imminently annoys people
  • the action done causes a lot of trouble, and people tend to get angry and worried, probably because of their sensitive nature
  • used in an event where a particular issue has led to complaints and discomfort among the majority of people
  • there is a chance that the action or statement made is quite controversial in the people's eyes, making them react to the statement

Example Sentences

  1. The foreigner put the cat among the pigeons when he made some sensitive comments about the people's religion.
  2. Political leaders often set the cat among the pigeons when they make false promises to the crowd.
  3. The President's admission of his crimes against the rights of the people imminently put the cat among the pigeons.
  4. The manager set the cat among the pigeons when he decided that all workers would work during this holiday season.
  5. The information of deducting 15% of salary packages of all the employees of York Electronics company throw the cat among the pigeons, and many employees started resigning immediately and joining the competitor company.


It is a British term that originates from colonial India. During this period, there was a practice where the people put a wild cat in a cage with pigeons. The people would then make bets on the number of birds that the cat would bring down with one paw-swipe. This, in turn, led to the phrase, " put or set the cat among the pigeons."

This expression was first recorded in J Stevens' New Spanish and English Dictionary (1706), where it is explained as referring to a man coming into the company of a group of women. The idiom "flutter the dovecotes" is based on the same idea of a group of pigeons as a tranquil or harmless community.


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