T. S. Eliot? Ogden Nash? Kate Upson Clark? William Lyon Phelps? O. M. Gregor? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Some pets are constantly signaling a desire to enter or leave a domicile. Here are two pertinent expressions:
- A cat is always on the wrong side of a door.
- A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
This notion has been attributed to the poets T. S. Eliot and Ogden Nash. Would you please help me to find citations and precise phrasings?
Quote Investigator: This saying can be phrased in many ways; thus, it is difficult to trace. The expression has been applied to individual animals and to classes of animals. The earliest match located by QI appeared in the “Manchester Weekly Times” of England in 1898 within an article about pets owned by royalty. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Cats cannot be picked up and carried from pillar to post, while dog’s rather enjoy change of scene. In fact, the pet dog is always on the wrong side of the door, and never happy unless he is either going out or coming in.
The journalist who wrote the text above was unidentified, and QI conjectures that he or she was repeating a remark that was already in circulation.
A 1939 poem by T. S. Eliot about a cat includes an instance of this statement. Ogden Nash included instances in two different poems in 1941 and 1953. Details for these citations are given further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1898 November 11, Manchester Weekly Times, Cream of Current Literature: Some Royal Favourites Dogs and Cats, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Manchester, Greater Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com) ↩