Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

October 16, 2017

What does it mean when people “let the cat out of the bag”? It means the truth came out, usually about something someone did wrong. They say it comes from farmers selling pigs hundreds of years ago. Pigs were worth a lot of money, but cats weren’t. So when handing over a live piglet in a thick bag, sometimes a sneaky farmer would slip a cat in there instead. But then he had to hope the cat didn’t pop out and ruin everything before the farmer ran away with the money. So we love this photo of a cat taking a nap with a pig. Mortiz is a very friendly pig who greets everyone who visits his farm, and he’s buddies with all the other animals there, including this kitty. If you watch the video, you’ll see the cat is actually patting the pig to put him to sleep. Looks like it’s hard work being either a cat or a pig, whether you’re in or out of the bag.

Wee ones: Who has more legs, a cat or a pig?

Little kids: If the cat and pig fall asleep at 2 pm and nap for 3 hours, will they be up in time for dinner at 6 pm?  Bonus: Cats eat about 1 ounce of cat food for every pound of body weight each day. If this kitty weighs 10 pounds, how much food does it eat in a week?

Big kids: A domestic pig can weigh more than 700 pounds! If this one weighs just 400 pounds and the cat weighs 10 pounds, how many cats would have to pile up to match the pig?  Bonus: If the pig then peed and weighed 1 pound less, how much would it weigh?




Wee ones: They’re the same! Each animal has 4 legs.

Little kids: Yes, since they’ll wake up at 5 pm.  Bonus: 70 ounces.

Big kids: 40 cats.  Bonus: 399 pounds.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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