Posted by ESC on May 27, 2000
In Reply to: Cat's got your tongue posted by Michael Sheridan on May 26, 2000
: Still looking for its origin.
"HAS THE CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Why don't you speak? Your silence is suspicious. The saying originated in the mid-nineteenth century and was used when addressing a child who refused to answer a parent's questions after some mischief. Often shortened to 'cat got your tongue?'." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
It's also used to address a shy child. I think its origin lies in the way of outdoor cats dragging little captives, chipmunks and such, into the house.