[Ads-l] "drown [like] kittens/puppies"

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Thu Oct 13 09:04:01 EDT 2016

I can speak from (sad) personal experience that drowning kittens actually
happens.  In a farm I visited as a child, when cats littered, the excess kittens
were drowned immediately.  Sad but true.  It was looked on as an expeditious
mode of euthanasia, and really, how else do you kill a kitten?  Vets were
expensive.  This would be in the late fifties (Stirlingshire), so I don't know
if it still happens.

I imagine the same thing might have happened, though probably not so often, with
dogs.  lf a bitch in a foxhound pack mated with and unknown mut,  the offspring
would be valueless, and would be drowned.

I can't think, offhand, of any other animals who it would make (commercial)
sense to treat in this fashion.  

A kinder variant no doubt still takes place in overcrowded Animal Shelters.
 Strange (or perhaps not) that (if I'm not mistaken) the protocols for the
lethal injection of animals are stricter than those for (some) humans.

Then there's the National Lampoon cover with a picture of a dog with a gun
pointed at its head, and the caption (I quote roughly, from memory): "Subscribe
today, or the puppy dies."


>     On 13 October 2016 at 13:35 Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>     Cross-posted.
>     I am interested in how far back one can find the expression "drown [like]
> kittens/puppies", especially as a simile (with "like" or some similar
> construction) but also literally (referring to the actual drowning of
> unwanted, newly-born animals).  Other animals than cats or dogs might serve.
>     I see it earliest in _Othello_ and _Merry Wives of Windsor_ (which were
> published 1602/3).  My searches in EEBO haven't found anything earlier.
>     Thanks in advance,Joel
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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