Dutch Language Blog

Spreekwoorden en Uitdrukkingen (Sayings and Expressions) 6 – Cats & Dogs II Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

As promised, here is the second part of Cats & Dogs spreekwoorden en uitdrukkingen. If you missed the first part, click here. So, again about Cats & Dogs! These two are both quite old, and widely known in the Netherlands – enjoy!

For other sayings and expressions in this series, click here.

Als de kat van huis is dansen de muizen op tafel

When the cat is away from home, the mice dance on the table

If nobody is supervising you (if there is no toezicht (supervision), you can do whatever you feel like. The kat is in the dominant role. The muizen fear the cat, because it hunts them. They have to adapt their behavior so they (quite literally) don’t get caught. So the kat is for example an ouder (parent) or baas (boss). The muizen are those under control of the kat kinderen (children), werknemers (employees), etcetera.


You can use this spreekwoord when somebody does something without toezicht. This also applies when it is going behind somebody’s back. Example:

Toen hun ouders een week op vakantie gingen, gaven David en Karel elke avond een feest. Als de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen op tafel.

When their parents went on a holiday for a week, David and Karel threw a party every night. If the cat is away from home, the mice dance on the table.

De hond in de pot vinden

To find the dog in the pot

This old uitdrukking means that you are too late for something. In the sense of the expression, it means that you come thuis (home) and already find the hond (dog) licking out the leftovers of the maaltijd you missed from the pot (pot).


You can use this uitdrukking anytime somebody is late for something and is missing out. Example:

Floris komt een half uur te laat naar de bioscoop en mist het beste stuk. Hij vindt de hond in de pot!

Floris is half an hour late for the cinema and is missing the best part. He finds the dog in the pot!

I hope you enjoyed the second part of Cats & Dogs spreekwoorden en uitdrukkingen! Do you have similar ones in your language? Or even the same ones? What do you think about the spreekwoord and the uitdrukking above? Let me know in the comments below!



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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Jude:

    Als de kat van huis is dansen de muizen op tafel – We have a version of this in English – “While the cat’s away, the mice will play”. Good to know it exists in Dutch too!