Recently, while my daughter, Cherri, was house hunting in San Diego, she rejected a property with a really nice garden because she and her husband concurred that when it came to the bedrooms, there was simply no room to swing a cat.
There’s no way that Cherri would ever grab one of her beloved felines and swing it by the tail, but the expression is a common one to convey a small, confined space. In fact, the English language is littered (if you’ll pardon the pun) with such expressions and proverbs.
The swing a cat expression is said to date back to the time when British sailors who didn’t toe the line on board ship were flogged with a cat o’ nine tails – a whip that had nine leather strips with knotted ends said to resemble a cat’s tail. Sometimes, the areas were so confined, that there was not enough room to swing the cat.”
What is so interesting is that so many of the cat-related expressions we use in our daily lingo are based on certain feline physical actions and really translate well in our popular culture.
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