Sometimes I wonder when someone says it is raining cats and dogs out there. Why only cats and dogs and not any other animal in rain? There could be many other options to drag in the torrents of rain for example rabbits, deer, wolves, lions or tigers. The question dragged me to the days when the idiom was coined and I traced the footprints of the history of the idiom. Turning the pages of history, I came across interesting facts of cats and dogs in rain but could not find any clear milestone to associate the cats and dogs with rain.
Olor Iscanus was the first recorded collection of poems which used the idiom “raining cats and dogs” for the first time in 1651. Following it, many other playwrights and poets (to quote Richard Brome and Henry Vaughn) used the idiom in their pieces of writing. Jonathan Swift also used it in his satire on the upper class named as “Complete Collection of genteel and Ingenious Conversation”. In his poem “City Shower”, he described the flood which left the animals especially cats and dogs which were seen dead in the streets and the rain was named as cats and dogs.
Why only cats and dogs? The myths
The footsteps of origin of raining cats and dogs date back only to the myths and no clear destination. Odin, the Norse god of storms was symbolized with the pictures of dogs and wolves while the witches were denoted with the pictures of black cats. So the dogs symbolized the stormy wind and cats were associated to the heavy rain. Greek expression also used the idiom to describe an unbelievable incident.