"young cat, child's pet name for a cat," 1719, variant of kitten, perhaps influenced by kitty "girl, young woman" (c. 1500), which originally is a pet form of fem. proper name Catherine. Kitty Hawk, the place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the Wright Brothers first flew, apparently is a mangling of a native Algonquian name; it also has been written as Chicahauk.
"pool of money in a card game," 1884, American English, of uncertain origin. OED connects it with kit (n.1) in the 19c. sense of "collection of necessary supplies;" but perhaps it is rather from northern England slang kitty "prison, jail, lock-up" (1825), a word itself of uncertain origin.
By the Widow, or as it is more commonly known as "Kitty," is meant a percentage, taken in chips at certain occasions during the game of Poker. This percentage may be put to the account of the club where the game is being played, and defrays the cost of cards, use of chips, gas, attendance, etc. The Kitty may, however, be introduced when no expenses occur. ["The Standard Hoyle," New York, 1887]
updated on September 25, 2018