A successful cat experiment—and a failure

April 24, 2017 • 9:00 am

Last Caturday, I put up an item about some cats having a propensity to enter and sit in squares of tape on the floor. I also urged readers to try it. What do you have to lose besides a bit of tape? Anyway, three readers tried it: one failed utterly, one succeeded, but only when the cat was enticed into the tape-square with a treat (this doesn’t count!) and then one success, from reader Rhonda. Her notes and photo:

The square experiment was successful in my household with really only one of our three cats. One stood in it for just a second, and the third was much too suspicious to get inside. This is Happy, our tiny and very trusting almost 15-year-old girl.

And we have a failure from Peter N., who also sent a photo and an account:

A few years ago a friend sent me an article that said cats would gravitate toward any defined small space, just like you said in your post of April 22. I set up a loop of digital audio cable on our bed, where Gus (1999-2017) always slept during the day. The result: it’s hard to generalize about cats!

The verdict so far: the behavior certainly isn’t ubiquitous Try this at home!

17 thoughts on “A successful cat experiment—and a failure

    1. The cats that we call “failures” are simply thinking out-of-the-box. Like they’re pushing the envelope of what humans will do for them.

      1. I’ve got a t-shirt:

        I think inside the box because it’s bigger on the insude.

        Dr Who fans will understand! 😀

      2. Good one. I sent PCC a picture of the empty taped box on the floor and another picture of the cat in her box in the cat dining area to indicate this is where this cat gets in the box.

  1. Haven’t actually tested this but I know that my cats love to curl up on anything that separtes into a small area be it a scratching board, my slippers or a magazine that fell on the floor.

  2. A pair of friends who were cat-sitting my cat over Easter tried thus on her: she ripped the tape off the floor to play with it. So I’d have to say it was unsuccessful.

    I thought she was being very un-catty upon hearing this, but seems consistent with your readers’ results (however small in n-number they are). Makes you wonder if there is reporting bias in the cat-in-taped-box sample 😉

    1. I haven’t taken the time to run the experiment yet, though I plan on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my cat does the same as yours. She loves tape and sticky thin stuff of all kinds. You can’t use a lint roller without tearing some off for her to play with.

      If she hears you dispensing some Press’n Seal she comes running. She’ll come after the Press’n Seal even if you’ve just put her food down. We can’t leave anything covered with Press’n Seal where she can get at it because she will play with it, rendering whatever it might be uncovered in the process.

      A favorite game of hers is to have tape stuck to her so she can play with it. Kitty break dancing.

  3. I’m not sure that a successful experiment is the same as an experiment that came out just the way that you would have liked. How do you judge success with a sample of three? Now, if you had a thousand cats …..

  4. My cat failed both the tape test and was utterly uninterested in the optical illusion JAC had posted on earlier (I printed it out). She’s 17 though, and uninterested in pretty much everything except cat treats, drinking water from the faucet, and fusses.

  5. That last picture looks like a booby trap. Smart cat!! Must be a professor ceiling cat; always thinking.

  6. I tried it, in fact, it’s still on my living room carpet. Angel smelled the tape then ignored it. The next day, I picked her up and placed her within its boundaries. She stood there as if frozen in place for about 30-45 seconds (very weird as she always rejects my placing her anywhere). She hasn’t acknowledged it since 😞

  7. I would say my cat Janet participated and the result was that she did not pay any attention to the square – until I enticed her (mentioned in Jerry’s message above). That is a data point on the “does not sit in the square” tally. That is a data point! n = 5 cats. 1 did, 4 did not.

  8. I wonder if experimenters would obtain 100% success if they put the tape down in the form of a pentagram.

  9. If one enticed her cat into the square with a treat, but then the cat stayed and returned to it even without the treat, that would be an interesting outcome. I even predict that some cats will do this. I’m trying it tonight on my bed where he sleeps, but that will require me to make it up! Which will confuse him and ruin the experiment, but still. Right now, he sleeps ONLY on my mandolin case, which is fabric and lays flat. It’s the perfect size for him to curl up on!

  10. I asked a friend with four cats to try it. Her report:

    Kitty update….um….they don’t care in the least! Were most interested in the putting down and taking up of the tape, after 3 days of totally ignoring.

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