Posted by ESC on March 24, 2000
In Reply to: "Let the Cat Out of the Bag" posted by Angel on March 24, 2000
: During the 17th and 18th Century, corpal punishment was widely used in the miliary and aboard ships to control the crew. The most common pushishment was whipping with a Cat O' Nine Tails (a whip with nine tails usually knoted at the end orwith metal burs on the ends). The Drum Major (or musician) of the troop kept "The Cat" in a bag, tied to his belt. When someone committed an offense, punishable by whipping,it was time for pusnishment it was called to "Let the Cat Out of the Bag."
There's an earlier discussion of this phrase under "cat" in the archives.