Cats Are Cryptic Animals

cat curled up looking like a snake

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Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals. Cats like to hide. And as the collage about demonstrates cats can use their anatomy to deter predators. “Cryptic” comes from “Crypsis” which is the the use of anatomy and behavior to hide from potential predators or “the ability of an organism to avoid observation or detection by other organisms”1.

The picture says it all really. Some people might argue that the feline tabby coat evolved as a means to protect the cat as (a) it is excellent camouflage and (b) it looks like a snake curled up when the cat is resting. The cat in the collage above it an ocelot, a small wild cat species.

The cat also learned to hiss to sound like a snake. Two separate forms of protection both of which are connected to the snake.

The African wildcat – the domestic cat’s wild ancestor – is a snake catcher. I wonder whether over the millenia the wildcat learned to copy the snake as he knew the snake well.

There are gazillions of cat-in-boxes videos and pictures on the internet. All of them demonstrate the cryptic nature of feline behavior.

You can see Maru’s tail wagging after he gets into the tiny box that is too small. I’d say this is a classic sign of uncertainty about what to do next. Maru wants to be in a box as he is obsessed by boxes but can’t achieve it. Tail wagging is a sign the cat’s mind is in balance just as a tail helps a cat to physically balance.

Every home should have a place for their cat to hide.

Source: 1. Wikipedia

36 thoughts on “Cats Are Cryptic Animals”

  1. Please allow me to add to that: the cat that survived was the female/male who just in a sheer stroke of genius, happened to use a snake-like hiss, whether by intelligence or a fluke.

  2. What? Michael, you know very well that the cat did not learn “to hiss like a snake.” The cat that survived was the one that adopted a snake-like hiss. 😉

      • Thanks for the reply. Now, it’s my turn to say that I do not understand what you mean. “Learn?” even loosely applied to the species. How so?

        • Evolution is a kind of learning. Evolution is trial and error. A genetic mutation works because it makes life better or fails and the species dies out. Whether it fails or works is trial by error and nature learning what it good for survival. That is the way I see it.

          • I see what you mean. It just depends on whose perspective, cat/human/evolving species that you are focused on. Does that help? You are looking at it from an evolution philosophy that is based on keeping it simple, so that most can understand it. I thought that I was looking at it from a very basic level, that doesn’t allow anthropomorphism to come into play, but you are absolutely right. We cannot help it.

  3. Maru is beautiful. Yes cats need boxes, we always have a cardboard box in our living room, it might look a bit strange to visitors lol but Walt and Jo like to sit in it.
    We had a cat years ago who would pull all the paper tissues out of the box when she was a kitten and then sit in it, as she grew bigger she still tried to squeeze in.
    Maybe it’s like us doing a cryptic crossword, we don’t like to give up and admit we can’t do it.


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