A gray-haired gent explained how his mom would tell him to mind his manners as a child. When told to do something, young Ross would ask, “What fer?” Exasperated, his mom would reply, “What fur? Why, cat fur! To make kitten britches!”
Clearly, there’s nothing else to say after an outburst like that! I hadn’t heard that phrase before so, of course, I Googled it. Apparently, it is a saying used in the South to remind children to use proper English and stop questioning their elders. Truly, it’s nonsensical and yet there’s something oddly compelling about the idea of kitten britches…
Wylie Ann Kitty, Tucson, Arizona 2017
It occurs to me that if the cat fur came with skin attached, the poor cat would need britches. Just another lovely image to encourage children to be good so they don’t get skinned?
Ouch! That’s a gruesome thought. Though you may be on to something, it seems like folks did often scare the dickens out of children back then.