"two gentlemen waiting in the Cheshire cat for you"

The cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland drawn by John Tenniel 1866
Public DomainThe cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland drawn by John Tenniel 1866 - Credit: John Tenniel
The Cheshire Cat is a fictional cat, made famous by Lewis Carroll’s depiction of it in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  He is known for his enormous and mischievous grin (which he can leave lingering in the air after he’s disappeared). 

The term Cheshire cat predates Carroll’s use of it.  A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue by Francis Grose (London 1788) contains the entry: "He grins like a Cheshire cat; said of any one who shows his teeth and gums in laughing."  In 1792, John Wolcot’s Pair of Lyric Epistles states "Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin."

The phrase "Grinning like a Cheshire Cat" may have its origins in the large number of dairy farms in Chesire – cats would grin with pleasure owing to the abundance of milk and cream.