Here Tony Wootton and Gwen Zanzoterra give us a saying that originated in the days of sailing ships. This is also a seldom used phrase.
“Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat”
This, as in the case of many other sayings, goes back to the days of sailing ships and refers to the ‘cats o’ nine tails’, or whip with nine thongs used on sailors. As the cabins and crews’ quarters were very small, there was not enough room to swing a cat and so the sailors were whipped up on deck.
Any wrong doings deemed to have been committed by the sailors, the poor sailors were whipped in those days. The captain was the absolute master of the ship. See how much things have changed.
Hope someone better versed in the English Language can help me by telling me in what context can this saying be appropriately used. Wish to learn.