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Swing a CAt

Posted by Tim on February 15, 2005

The 'Cat' referred to is the 'Cat-o-nine-tails' a short length flogging whip with several strands, sometimes barbed with hooks, used by the Royal Navy from the late 17th Century until the early 19th Century for punishment. Being short in length it could be used in confined spaces on board ship. 'Not enough room to swing a cat' therefore meant very cramped indeed (English warships were crowded enough at that time...and now?)