Idiom: While the cat's away
the mice will play

Image of mice playing ping pong on top of a cat's desk that has a placard with

Idiom meaning

Look at the picture and try to guess the meaning of the idiom 'while the cats away the mice will play.'   

when / while the cat's away the mice will play is an expression that describes how people will behave badly or as they like when a supervisor or other authority figure is not present.


Note:  It's common to just use the first part of the idiom, "while the cat's away."  It's often used in the question form to others to repeat the second part of the idiom, "the mice will play."


Sentence Examples

  • I'd never leave my kids at home alone while I'm out of town. As they say, while the cat's away...
  • They say "while the cat's away the mice will play" but my assistant isn't like that at all.
  • Party at my house this weekend: while the cat's away, the mice will play.
  • I left the classroom for five minutes and when I returned it was chaos. Ugh, when the cat's away the mice will play.
  • I never, ever leave my team without supervision. Unfortunately, while the cat's away the mice will play.
  • The person who said "while the cat's away the mice will play" was definitely thinking of my children.
  • I left the kids I was babysitting in the playroom while I went to the bathroom and they were gone when I got back... proving that while the cat's away the mice will play.

You might be interested in these idioms

Check out this infographic with other popular cat idioms here.  And if you like dogs, there are some dog idioms at this link too.


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› Idiom: While the Cat's Away