I had to call my grandmother yesterday. She is 86 and stronger and more mentally stable than most I people I know. Anyhow, I’d been working a problem and was stuck when it suddenly occurred to me that "there’s more than one way to skin a cat" and I came up with a different solution rapidly.
Now, I’ve been skinning cats since I was about five but I have never questioned exact why we skin cats. So I went to the source. See, when we’d get a bath at my grandmother’s apartment as the kids were stripped down, she’d say "there’s more than one way to skin a cat." Her answer? She chuckled and said, "I don’t know."
So what does Blingo say?
- World Wide Words
- Points out that it dates back to 1678 as a common proverbial phrase but gives no real origin other than conjecture. Relates it to the Southern US states to skinning a catfish.
- "Many tasks can be accomplished in several ways." but we know that already.
- Phrase Finder
- "a boy’s gymnastic trick" with a description of the trick and a note "Mr. Funk doesn’t say WHY anyone would actually skin a cat" A reply to the post claims "People used to skin cats to use the fur" but gives no citations
- AOL Member
- Another catfish reference
- EZBoard forum
- "boys (and adults too) did torture cats in the 16th-18th centuries" but refers to harvesting the fur
- Messy Beast
- catfish and fur references. Perhaps the best description thus far.