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The cat o' nine tails is a multi-tailed whip traditionally used for severe punishment. The whip is made up of nine knotted strings of cotton cord and is designed to lacerate the skin and cause intense punishment. Throughout history, the cat o' nine tails was often used in the naval service, the Napoleonic wars, slavery, and as punishment for sailors who mutinied. Being made of rope, the cat o' nine tails was not the most lethal weapon of punishment, but it was the amount of times a person was sentenced to a whipping that would cause severe pain and sometimes death.
Today, this whip is seen in the bedrooms of some daring BDSM practitioners. The intensity of these modern whips are not quite as robust as their predecessors, and they are often safe to use in the bedroom without causing severe injury. Nevertheless, they still belong in the more experienced section of S&M toys.