WEST CHESTER, PA--Although we celebrate National Kick the Cat Day, we do not advocate kicking cats literally; and we hasten to assure you that no cats were harmed during the writing of this monograph. We celebrate, instead, the existential notion of "kicking the cat" as a means of relieving stress, anger, hostility, rage, or sexual tension.
In order for such kicking to be considered "humane," the person doing the kicking should be a high-ranking individual in an organization or family, while the recipient of the kick is a person of lower rank or caste. Not ironically, that person may, in turn, pay the kick forward to one of his or her inferiors. This domino effect can be observed dentro casa when Dad yells at Mom, who later yells at the older child, who immediately screams at the younger child, who goes off looking to kick the cat.
Humans have been kicking the cat from damn-near time immemorial, perhaps longer. Archaeologists once believed that cats were domesticated in Egypt roughly 4,000 years ago; but in 2004, researchers working on Cyprus uncovered a 9,500-year-old joint burial of a human and a cat . . . with three cracked ribs.
Linguistically, "kicking the cat" is referenced in Croatian, virtually all the Indo-Norse-Germanic tongues, and in the Tao Te Ching. The expression was late to the language party in England, making its debut in Charles Dickens' debut--the first installment of the Pickwick Papers, April 1836.
"As Young Chadwick walked from the barn towards the house at lunch time, he angrily kicked a pig. Grinning like a limb of Satan himself, the boy kicked a cow. When he entered the house, his mother confronted him at once, 'I saw what you did, Young Chadwick. For kicking the pig, you'll have no bacon for a week; and for kicking the cow, no milk for a week.'
"Just then Edselforth, the boy's father, walked into the room, pausing to kick the cat, Pickwick, who was lounging by the hearth. Immediately Young Chadwick exclaimed to his mother, 'Should I tell him or will you?'"