‘Belling the Cat’ is a fable also known under the titles ‘The Bell and the Cat’ and ‘The Mice in Council’. Although often attributed to Aesop, it was not recorded before the Middle Ages and has been confused with the quite different fable of Classical origin titled ‘The Cat and the Mice’.
The Fable concerns a group of mice who debate plans to nullify the threat of a marauding cat. One of them proposes placing a bell around its neck, so that they are warned of its approach. The plan is applauded by the others, until one mouse asks who will volunteer to place the bell on the cat. All of them make excuses. The story is used to teach the wisdom of evaluating a plan not only on how desirable the outcome would be, but also on how it can be executed. It provides a moral lesson about the fundamental difference between ideas and their feasibility, and how this affects the value of a given plan.
This illustration, for Jean de La Fontaine's fables, by Gustave Doré shows the 'rats' in council so his version of the fable must have had rats in place of mice.