"cat," 1726, diminutive of puss (n.1), also used of a rabbit (1715). As a term of endearment for a girl or woman, from 1580s (also used of effeminate men). To play pussy was World War II RAF slang for "to take advantage of cloud cover, jumping from cloud to cloud to shadow a potential victim or avoid recognition."
slang for "female pudenda," 1879, but probably older; perhaps from Old Norse puss "pocket, pouch" (cf. Low German puse "vulva"), but perhaps instead from the cat word (see pussy (n.1)) on notion of "soft, warm, furry thing;" cf. French le chat, which also has a double meaning, feline and genital. Earlier uses are difficult to distinguish from pussy (n.1), e.g.:
The word pussie is now used of a woman [Philip Stubbes, "The Anatomie of Abuses," 1583]But the absence of pussy in Grose and other early slang works argues against the vaginal sense being generally known before late 19c., as does its frequent use as a term of endearment in mainstream literature, e.g.:
"What do you think, pussy?" said her father to Eva. [Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 1852]Pussy-whipped first attested 1956.
pussy pus·sy (pŭs'ē)
adj. pus··si·er, pus··si·est
Containing or resembling pus.
Harmless and undemanding; fit for the timid: The bumper cars are pussy (1970s+)
[fr pussy, ''cat,'' found by 1726]