Quand le chat n’est pas là, les souris dansent !

Quand le chat n'est pas là, les souris dansent
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French Proverb

Meaning When the cat’s away the mice will play!
Literally When the cat’s not there, the mice dance!
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Pronunciation
French sound files [ka(n) leu shah nay pah lah lay soo ree da(n)s]
IPA [kã lə ʃa ne pa la le su ʁi dãs]

Usage notes: French and English have very similar proverbs about a cat, representing an authority figure (parent, teacher, boss), whose absence automatically means that mice (children, students, employees) will do anything (play, dance, leave work early) but what they’re supposed to be doing.

Par exemple…

J’ai quitté la salle de classe pendant 5 minutes et mes étudiants… oh là là ! Quand le chat n’est pas là, les souris dansent !   I left the classroom for 5 minutes and my students… oh dear! When the cat’s away, the mice will play!
Mon patron va être à la maison mère cette semaine, et tu sais ce que ça veut dire : quand le chat n’est pas là, les souris dansent !   My boss is going to be at the parent company this week, and you know what that means: when the cat’s away, the mice will play!

Variations

  • Absent le chat, les souris dansent
  • C’est les vacances, les souris dansent
  • Le chat parti, les souris dansent
  • Quand le chat s’absente, les souris dansent
  • Là où le chat n’est, souris s’y révèle (archaic)

 More French expressions with chat

 Related lessons

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Quand le chat n'est pas là, les souris dansent !
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