Cat O’Nine Tails

An instrument of punishment from the old Navy. If the rope tails were knotted, then it became a ‘thieves’ cat.

The device was stored in a red baize bag to conceal the blood drawn by it, hence the saying ‘The cats out of the bag’ which still means retribution is imminent. Note also the association with the phrase hardly enough room to swing a cat, which means that the space being described is a little small, rather than suggesting cruelty to cats.

Shipmates Reunited

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