From cat + paw. In most senses, due to a resemblance of shape. In its senses as a pawn to another's interests or analysis, variant of earlier cat's-foot, derived from European tales of a monkey (attested as early as 1456 but sometimes misattributed to the 16th-century monkey of Pope Julius II) who used a sleeping puppy or cat's foot to rake hot chestnuts out of a fire, taken as a metaphor for rulers' ill use of their subjects. Now usually understood in light of Jean de La Fontaine's 1679 fable of the "The Monkey and the Cat" (sometimes misattributed to Aesop), in which the monkey fools the cat into removing the chestnuts through flattery and promises of shared reward. The cat removes the chestnuts one by one, burning his paw while the monkey eats each in turn. A maid then enters and chases them both away. La Fontaine's moral concludes that princes should not endure real losses for mere flattery from their king.