Nearly all of us know about cats mimicking a snake’s hiss as a way of defending themselves. The snake is obviously known throughout the animal world as a dangerous creature. The whole defensive measure is based on that. It is also based on the sound of the snake.
The interesting thing about the cat is that it also mimics the snake’s appearance when curled up asleep.
I am referring to domestic tabby cats. The cat in the collage above is a small/medium sized wild cat, the ocelot, but it has a tabby-type coat. You don’t refer to wild cats as having tabby coats but they are. And the ocelot’s high contrast markings very much mimic the coiled snake.
It has been suggested that the tabby coat is not simply the best form of camouflage but that it goes a step further and is an imitation of the camouflage markings of a snake.
When a cat is sleeping it is vulnerable to attack. A large bird such an an eagle might see a curled cat as a snake and steer clear. Certainly in the wild, the ocelot curled up on a tree-stump looks uncannily like a snake from a distance. And the when the cat hisses, spits and wags his tail like a rattle snake the predator is suitable convinced.
Photo originals descending order: