What Does More Than One Way to Skin a Cat Mean?

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat Meaning

Definition: There are multiple ways to accomplish a goal.

Origin of More Than One to Skin a Cat

This expression first appeared in the 1800s. The analogy involved is somewhat debated. Some writers say it involved the literal skinning of a cat. In other words, there are many ways to remove its skin. It is unclear exactly why people chose such a gruesome act for this idiom.

Others claim it has nothing to do with this, but, rather, it refers to a child’s maneuver in getting into a sitting position on a tree branch. There is no evidence, however, for this latter interpretation.

Mark Twain has an early use of this phrase is his book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889).

  • She knew more than one way to skin a cat.

While the exact phrasing there is more than one way to skin a cat is American in origin, it is similar to a British locution:

  • There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream.

Again, it is unclear why such gruesome acts became popular sayings in 19th-century Britain and America.

This latter phrase appeared in Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho! in 1855.

Examples of More Than One to Skin a Cat

more than one way to skin a cat In the dialogue below, two friends are talking about being satisfied with their personal appearance and physique.

Ezekiel: So, I know you don’t like running, but let’s try another form of exercise. Let’s go to the gym together. We can do some weightlifting.

Maggie: Thanks, but I’d rather not. I appreciate that you want to help me lose weight, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Ezekiel: What do you mean? If you want to lose weight, you have to do some form of exercise.

Maggie: I’m thinking of just getting liposuction.

Ezekiel: Are you serious? You can’t get surgery just to lose weight.

Maggie: Of course I can. And I’m seriously considering it.

more than one way to skin a cat historyIn this example, two friends are trying to get to their movie on time.

Tyrion: We’re going to be late.

Mila: I know. The traffic is terrible. There’s no way we’ll be able to drive through all that and make it to the movie on time.

Tyrion: I’m checking my GPS for alternate routes, but it looks like the traffic is terrible all over the city.

Mila: Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Let’s ride our bikes instead!

Tyrion: Are you sure? That sounds like a lot of work.

Mila: Come on! There aren’t any hills, and it will get us there on time. Let’s do it!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about similarities between car platforms.

  • In the automotive world, the concept of “platform sharing” is most closely related to that old country adage about there being several ways to skin a cat. Building multiple vehicles off the same platform and mechanical underpinnings is sometimes a dirty little secret, but it can also serve as a way to show brand connections and lineage. –New York Daily News

This excerpt is from an article about hockey announcers.

Though we’re often told, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” I’m not interested in knowing any of them.

What catches my attention, especially at Stanley Cup playoffs time, is how there is more than one way to watch a hockey game, especially as provided for decades by Sam Rosen and Mike “Doc” Emrick, both — yikes! — 70. –New York Post

Summary

The idiom there’s more than one way to skin a cat is another way to say there are many paths you can take to reach the same end.