When I was a little girl, I had the cutest little Barbie doll dress my momma made for me. We were very poor, so she made all my Barbie’s clothes. This little dress was lacy and had elastic at the waist. Along with my Barbies, I also had several little kittens.


A Barbie doll is much smaller than a kitten, especially at the waist. But in my childish mind’s eye, they looked like the same size. I knew better than to try the dress on a kitten, but the dress and my kittens looked so cute separately, they just had to be put together.


One day, as I played, I put the dress on one of the little kittens and the elastic waist tightened at her stomach, way too much! The kitten started to frantically go around and around, in a circular motion, hissing and screaming a kitten’s cry trying to gnaw at the dress. Momma came rushing in from the other room after hearing all the commotion.


“Carole, what’s going on?” she exclaimed as she saw the poor little kitten in its frenzy!


She saw the little dress on the kitten and exclaimed again, “What have you done?! It’s way too tight!”

HOME - oct 2022 - an adage a day - cat girl_edited.jpg
Photo courtesy of Arinne Borstad

My poor sweet momma knew what she had to do. Through the kitten scratching and pawing and trying to bite, my momma grabbed her up and yanked the dress off! The kitten was okay, but she never came close to me again.


The moral of the story is to never “let the cat out of the bag” by never putting the cat in the bag, or in this case a dress. What I was doing (unknown to my momma and that I wasn’t supposed to do) became known in a big way when Momma heard the excruciating cries of the little kitten.


This idiom, “let the cat out of the bag” means to disclose a secret unintentionally. It started from a deceitful practice in the 1500’s. A vendor at market sold a pig to a customer and then, unknown to the customer, the vendor placed a cat in the bag instead of the pig. Cats weren’t worth as much as a pig back then. And this is how the phrase “Cat in the bag” became “Let the cat out of the bag.” What is meant as a secret is then made known.


I didn’t mean for Momma to know what I had done but with the loud frantic meows from the kitten, my secret was out! I really didn’t think I had done anything wrong until the kitten went berserk. Then I knew I was going to be in trouble if Momma found out.

Have you ever let the cat out of the bag? Have you ever PUT a cat in the bag? Or is it that the cat got your tongue?


I was very blessed growing up! Even after all the scratches and bites from the little kitten, my momma hugged me. She told me to never do that again and she also told me that it was okay. That time, and after every time I got into trouble, she told me she loved me. Through my sobs and tears that day I knew that Momma loved me unconditionally. I knew nothing would ever change her love for me.


Aren’t we so glad that God loves us unconditionally even when we sin or when our “curiosity killed the cat,” or in the case of me and the kitten, almost? Do we stop and realize how unconditional His love is for us? I hope we do. His Word tells us how much He loves us. And that’s something we can all let the cat out of the bag about!


Romans 8:38-39 says,

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,

nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Cat's in the Bag
by Carole Gilbert