While many dog owners pride themselves on their obedient, well-trained pets, cat owners understand that their animals have a mind of their own. Cats are known for being uncontrollable free spirits. So, when one man discovered a way to influence his puss, he had to find out how his trick worked.
In October 2014, Japanese blogger guremike made a revolutionary discovery. He had found a way to control his pet cat. Furthermore, all he used was a roll of tape, some scissors and a bare piece of flooring.
And while his tools may sound quite sinister, no cats were harmed in the process of guremike’s discovery. Because all he did was form a circle in tape on his floor. What’s more, his cat just couldn’t stop itself from sitting it.
After a quick sniff, the kitty seemed compelled to park its bottom within the confines of the shape. Consequently, guremike had found a foolproof way of trapping a cat. And, when word of his breakthrough got out, others cat owners jumped at the chance to exert some control over their infamously unruly pets.
The trend proved particularly popular with reddit users. The theory was that any material could be used to create the shape. However, it should be at least 2 feet in diameter in order to entice the animals.
By following those simple steps, hundreds of cat owners proved guremike’s theory right. A reddit feed on the topic soon attracted picture after picture of pusses perched contentedly in their makeshift enclosures. It seemed most cats just couldn’t resist the allure of a circle.
Nevertheless, there were some exceptions to the rule. Some cats seemed switched on to their owner’s games and avoided the circles at all costs. But, for the most part, the shapes had a magnet-like effect on the animals. However, no one knew why.
Soon, a number of ideas as to why cats loved circles began to emerge. One of the most popular theories suggested cats felt secure in the confined spaces. What’s more, animal behavior expert, Professor Daniel Mills, seemed to back this school of thought.
Mills believed that the most attractive circles to cats were those that were 3D. “Low barriers can give a cat a sense of security because the cat can cower down,” he told the Daily Mail. “If you take a cat to the vet and it is put in an unfamiliar cage, it will often sit in a litter tray if there is one inside the cage.”
“The probable reason is that the sides of the tray are raised and they can get their eyes below the level,” Mills added. “They don’t realize that their ears are sticking up.” However, the professor’s theory didn’t explain why some circles made of tape or chord worked as well.
Some internet users claimed the circle obsession was more to do with territory. They suggested a clearly marked patch of land pointed out an area for cats to protect. However, animal experts claimed this wasn’t the case. That’s because cats weren’t likely to defend one tiny patch within their larger territory.
Another explanation was thought to lie in a cat’s sense of smell. The animal’s ability to sniff out scents is more than ten times stronger than the average human being’s. They also use their scent to mark their territory. Therefore, it’s fair to say that cats are highly sensitive to new smells.
So, it won’t take long for a cat to notice a strange, new smell on their patch. “If you stick a tape down to mark a circle, you are putting down a new scent that could interest a cat,” Mills revealed to the Daily Mail. “That might be an interesting odor.”
And an acute sense of smell isn’t the only characteristic that might have drawn the cats to the circles. According to cat behavior counsellor Vicky Halls, cats are naturally curious. So, they are bound to check out any new feature in their own territory.
“A cat is a solitary survivalist,” Halls told the Daily Mail. “It doesn’t survive in a pack. So when it experiences something new it has to check out whether it is safe or dangerous itself, depending on the confidence of the cat. From a survival point of view, a cat would be foolish to ignore something new or be dismissive of it.”
However, another theory suggested it was their owners’ odd behavior that intrigued the cats. When they saw their owner carefully forming a circle on their floor, they wondered what the fuss was about. So, they came to have a sniff around.
“There’s the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat,’” animal behavior expert Dr. Helen Zulch told the Daily Mail. “If you are interacting with something then it enhances the interest of that thing to the cat. If you pay attention to a circle on the floor, a cat who is bold and interested in new things may come over and pay attention to you.”
However, despite all of these plausible explanations being put forward by experts, some people still weren’t convinced. The only satisfactory answer, in their opinion, laid with the paranormal. They believed that cats were attracted to the energy of a circle. Indeed, the shape has long been considered to have mystical properties and has even been used in witchcraft.
However, behavior expert Halls was quick to deny that cats had any affiliation with the supernatural. “If you look, you will always find reasonable answers for cat behavior within the five senses,” she told the Daily Mail. “Cats do not have a sixth sense and are not remotely supernatural.”
Whether it was due to territory, scent, a sense of security or the paranormal, there was no denying cats were attracted to circles. However, it seemed even the experts couldn’t agree why the animals enjoyed sitting in these humble shapes. So, perhaps the circle effect is just another one of life’s great mysteries after all.