Pussyfoot, which means a delicate, soft step comes from the imagery of a cat’s careful tread. To pussyfoot is to proceed with caution, subtlety, and delicacy and is used pejoratively. The term is American in origin and, in adjectival form, dates to at least 1893. From Scribner’s Magazine of November of that year:

Men who were beginning to walk pussy-footed and shy at shadows.1

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