This song is a take on modern politics through the eyes of a young woman. Belle & Sebastian vocalist and songwriter Stuart Murdoch explained to The Independent: "It was after the 2010 (UK) elections and I was thinking about how there was a massive crash and [yet] nothing had changed. So I wrote 'The Cat with the Cream', but I actually only started when I imagined myself as a younger person, what she thought of the political situation. If you can imagine a very naive character and what they feel about things, that translates very nicely to pop."
Murdoch recalled the story of the song to Drowned in Sound: "In the aftermath of the 2010 UK general election I thought to myself, 'one of these days I'm going to write a political song.' Or at least 'one of these I'm going to have to write down how I feel about current events.' And then I didn't do it."
"But I did get a picture in my head of a girl. She was sitting at a big old wooden table in a basement kitchen in an old house. She was alone, comfortable, just finished a big bowl of ice cream, pondering at that ponderous kind of age. And I wondered what she thought of politics and the whole situation. So I wrote the song through her and it turned into Cat With The Cream."
"It was a good thinking table, and for a person in dark times, it was also a good praying table, and we will forgive her if most of the praying she did was for herself."
"I guess, she was praying for someone bigger, braver, wiser to come along than the average 'leader' of the day. In the books she had read there was always a King."
If someone looks like the cat that got the cream, that person is very pleased with him or herself as they have achieved their objective.
Back in the 1950s it appears people were easily satisfied. In 1956 The Four Lads sung on "Standing On The Corner," a hit song from the 1956 musical The Most Happy Fella:
Brother you don't know a nicer occupation Matter of fact, neither do I Than standing on a corner watching all the girls Watching all the girls, watching all the girls go by I'm the cat that got the cream. Haven't got a girl but I can dream Haven't got a girl but I can wish So I'll take me down to Main street And that's where I select my imaginary dish