U was right. pic.twitter.com/ORC42N3891— guywholoveshiscat🐈 (@noxtea0x0) April 12, 2017
But the latest kitty question involves a roll of tape. If you make a square on your floor, what will your cat do? Turns out a lot of cats will get inside it.
He almost resisted, but then... pic.twitter.com/cC04thBZsB— Jeni Niquette (@JeniNiquette) April 13, 2017
Danielle Matheson's (@prograpslady) Tweet about her mom's home experiment started the hubbub:
Nobody has had a more productive day than my mother pic.twitter.com/LK6KX9KM1x— Danielle Matheson (@prograpslady) April 10, 2017
Amazed cat owners responded after replicating the experiment, often with tape, but others with squares made out of ribbon, sheets of paper and even shoes.
Some even shared videos of the moment:
Cat experts weigh in
So what makes cats so interested in a square on the floor? We checked in with a couple of animal behaviorists for their theories.
"We know that cats like safe spaces. It's possible that the marking on the floor creates some illusion on the floor that doesn’t actually exist," says certified cat behavior consultant Mikel Delgado, who's based in the Berkeley, California area. "It might have enough similarity to a low-sided box that a lot of cats are attracted to it for safety."
Atlanta-based certified cat behavior consultant Ingrid Johnson agrees.
"I would imagine they probably feel as if they are 'in' something ... like laying in a cardboard canned food tray. Though shallow, still comforting, offers parameters or at least the perception of sides," she says.
Johnson points out that cats have poor close-up vision, so they may have the perception that the tape is actually the sides of a confined area.
"Their vision is built for distance and speed, watching a mouse run across the field," she says. "Close up they're virtually blind 8 to 12 inches off their muzzle."
Another reason cats are intrigued by the square? Pure feline curiosity.
"If you put something new on the floor, a fair amount of cats would explore it," Delgado says. "Most indoor cats know every square foot of your home."
Because cats are very sensitive to their environment, the tape square might be attracting them just because it's new and different, she says. The same thing would likely happen it you put a piece of cardboard or a paper bag on the floor. A lot of cats would check it out and inspect it.
😂😂😂 she's not sharing. pic.twitter.com/MAzAbAjI76— #FreeGates (@La23Savage) April 14, 2017
Rhode Island certified animal behaviorist Katenna Jones agrees it's likely the novelty of the square and the cat's inherent inquisitive nature.
"Cats are very good at noticing new things, especially on the floor," Jones says. "Most cats, if you place a cup on the floor, they'll check it out. If you place a pen on the floor, they'll check it out. If you place a bar of soap on the floor, they'll check it out. You may not see this 'sit on the square' behavior in very fearful kitties because they aren't confident enough to check it out."
Jones theorizes that the cats who show this behavior are the same felines that like boxes and beds.
"I think the cat has experience with boxes or beds, notices the new thing, goes to check it out, associates it with a possible comfy spot or a hiding spot. I think it's sitting on it because it's learned throughout its life that things like this are comfortable. Very simple association. That shape is associated with comfort — just like how a cat associates a can opener with tuna."
Cats in circles
Delgado points out that this isn't the first time the internet has been mystified with this type of feline behavior. A couple years ago, tape circles on the floor were like catnip to curious kitties.
That started when Reddit user Admancb posted a series of photos after discovering his cat was drawn to the circle loop made by a looped power cord. From there, he made circle-ish figures (technically hexagons and heptagons) with tape and the cat jumped in.
This kitty couldn't help but jumping in the tape on the floor. (Photo: SneakyChino/imgur)
Maybe cats do it because they're curious. Perhaps they do it because they feel safe. Or there could be one other possible reason, says Delgado.
"Maybe just chalk it up to cats being mysterious."