also mawkin, "a slattern; woman of the lower classes," late 13c., from fem. proper name Malkyn, a diminutive of Mault "Maud" (see Matilda). Also attested from c.1200 as the proper name of a female specter. Sense of "untidy woman" led to meaning "mop, bundle of rags on a stick" (used to clean ovens, artillery pieces, etc.), c.1400.
Attested as the name of a cat since 1670s (perhaps earlier as Grimalkin, 16c.); cf. Serbo-Croatian mačka "cat," originally a pet-name form of Maria. Also used in Scotland and northern England as the name of a hare (1724).