Google Street View discovers new cat species!

May 7, 2013 • 8:02 am

It’s Felis bipedus, spotted on Google Street View and posted here.


I have no idea how this happened, but I’m sure a tech-savvy reader can explain. It apparently involves the compression of images by the Google Street View cars, a vehicle that I never thought about.  Matthew Cobb, who sent me the photo and links, also noted that “There’s an art form whereby people tool around on street view and see what they can find. Some are funny, others beautiful, others bleak.”  You can see examples here and here.

The second link explains how they make the street views, a process involving a fleet of hybrid automobiles that cruise the world, each carrying nine cameras on a single pole, with pictures snapped every 10-20 meters. The photos are electronically stitched together, probably explaining the moggie above.

29 thoughts on “Google Street View discovers new cat species!

  1. ps: the glitch is due to the photo stitching software, which takes many pictures and matches what it thinks are common edges to make a larger picture. The oblong shape of the cat’s body (and the fur texture) confused it, since that type of software can unfortunately not (yet) recognize what it is stitching together to define how it’s in fact supposed to look. But I’m sure that won’t be the case for long, especially at Google. 🙂

    1. Yes, exactly that.

      Automated photo-stitching software often has trouble with repeated elements e.g. fence posts or legs. This often applies to the easy-to-use software given away with digital cameras. The heavy-duty stuff that does a near-perfect ‘stitch’ almost every time requires the user to first identify a number of pairs of identical points on the two images.

      Of course the time-sequencing of Streetview can also create its own artefacts if something dynamic is happening as the Streetview car drives past.

      By the way, I have found Streetview brilliant for plotting a route, I’m off to France in a month to drive over some remote country with friends and it’s often possible, in Streetview, to read the signposts at the ends of some gravel track which give a good indication whether it ‘goes through’ or is a private road (often hard to deduce that from the ‘satellite view’). It’s a strange experience to be doing this from the other side of the world.

  2. Its a common problem when taking panoramic images of any sort. It shrinks if the animal or person is walking in one direction, and enlarges if its the opposite. I’ve also seen a panoramic image where a cat was stretched out to the proportions of a centipede.

  3. What makes me LOL about this image is the cat looks seriously annoyed that it got represented this way.

  4. this isn’t photo stitching… it’s just straight up Photoshop.

    up until very recently there was a feral cat colony living on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. volunteers would care for the cats daily, and a friend of mine was one of those volunteers. she passed me this photo:

    the cat’s name is (was?) Thumbelina, and the original photo was taken in 2003. this was a Photoshop job, not a GSV shot.

    as far as I can tell, this photo was taken behind the Library of Parliament, facing north.
    as you can see by GSV, there’s no vehicular access back there so there’s no way a Google Car could have taken that shot.

    1. Yeah, the patch/clone artifacts & blurring are pretty obvious if you’ve ever used Photoshop

  5. I’d get the creeps if I were operating that car and came across a couple of street gang boys with guns… Some would simply pop you if they suspected you to be a witness.

  6. Quick call Linda Moulton Howe. She’s been looking for the answer to the mystery of the half cats for a while. To do this to a kitty, Google truely is evil !!

Leave a Reply