Green’s Dictionary of Slang

whip-the-cat n.

[whip the cat v. (5)]

an itinerant tailor; also attrib.

[UK]Newcastle Guardian 12 Apr. 1/1: How the New Coat of glory is spoiled by bad shears [...] Had Lord Pam and his ‘whip-the-cat’ show they were wise, / And employed Grey-street’s chiefs to have ta’en Sandy’s size.
[UK]Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser 15 Dec. 1/1: Patie whip-the-cat, the Tailor o’ Monzie.
[UK]Elgin Courier (Moray, Scot.) 19 Sept. 6/3: Her son was the last whop was what would now be called a ‘whip-the-cat’ tailor, or one who had no shop of his own, but went to the houses of his employers.
[UK]Dundee Courier 25 Sept. 2/3: There is no widespread desire to see working men at the Town Council [...] although a ‘whip-the-cat’ tailor or a ‘sweating’ shoemaker may [...] offer himself as a candidate.
[UK]Eve. Post 23 Jan. 4/3: The old ‘whip-the-cat’ days, when the tailor had to shoulder his sleeve-board and iron, and find room for himself to work in any place he might be put.
[UK]R.M. Fergusson Ochil Fairy T. 34: He plied his trade as a ‘whup-the-cat’ for fivepence a day and ‘his meat’ [OED].
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 29 Dec. 2/3: Sixty years ago the local tailor, known as ‘The Whip-the-Cat’ [...] went from house to house.
[UK]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 12 Feb. 6/5: It was the custom [...] for the homespun yarn to be woven [...] and made up by a ‘whip the cat’ who boarded at the farm while the work lasted.