The Kitten Smuggling Sleeves

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At various conventions, I have often been asked about the origin of the phrase “kitten-smuggling sleeves”.  I always tell people where the phrase came from, but it might be kind of fun to put it in here.

According to the story, in ancient China, only the Emperor was allowed to have cats. At the same time, cats being cats, they would reproduce.

Periodically the Emperor would host dinners of state.  People would be invited to partake in the feast with the Emperor, and would, of course, wear their finest robes.  Sometimes, certain dignitaries would sew their sleeves shut, so that there was a pocket created in the sleeve.  Here, if they had a chance, they would sneak a kitten into the sleeve and smuggle it from the Emperors palace.

Naturally, one can only imagine that if the Emperor were to see a visiting dignitary, leaving the palace with his or her sleeves wriggling and mewing, that there must have been a certain amount of indulgence involved.  But it is still a fun thing to think about.


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