Cats Are Cryptic Animals

cat curled up looking like a snake

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

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

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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36 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Ms. Hartwell?

  2. Caroline says:

    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.

  3. Caroline says:

    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. 😉

    • Same thing isn’t it? I have used the word “learn” very loosely not to mean individual cats but to mean the species.

      • Caroline says:

        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.

          • Caroline says:

            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.

  4. P.S. the reason why many domestic cats no longer have a tabby coat is because during evolution as a domestic cat they no longer required to be camouflaged.

  5. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    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.

    • Pleased you have a box in the living room! Love that.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        Yes the present box is the latest in a long line of boxes from Amazon:

        • Your home is split 50/50 between cat and human the way it should be.

          • Dee (Florida) says:

            50/50 huh?
            Well, there’s an announcement coming tonight here.
            I want my fair share!

            • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

              lol we only have two cats now and we own 25% of our home each,but do we? lol only for as long as Walter and Jozef don’t want our 25%s, because their wish is our command.
              Babz was turned out of her comfy armchair this morning, Walt installed himself. She moved to the couch, Jo marched across and demanded she got off, he wanted the bit where she was of course. Now she’s perched along the end as he’s stretched out across the other 2 seats.
              They allow us to think we share our home equally but it’s an illusion lol lol
              Can hardly wait to hear what % your cats allow you Dee x

              • I believe (but don’t practice it) that if we share a home with a cat the place should be equally appropriate in design and content for cat and human. Your home is pretty close 😉

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          Amazon has great boxes!

  6. Caroline says:

    As most of us know, cats are not cryptic, by any definition. They are elusive. 😉

  7. Caroline says:

    Thank you again, for posting your thoughts, Rudolph Furtado. I was just so elated to see your comment, because most folks just don’t get the nuances, and you do.

  8. Caroline says:

    This is certainly not staged, and entirely believable. Cats do this! I seems so odd, but it is completely understandable… slows down the heart rate, and theirs is much quicker than ours. I can vouch for this, as I sleep under the quilt/sheet/blanket to slow down my own heartrate, trying to match that of my cat’s. [Sadly, it doesn’t work. don’t try it.]

    Matahari, You are the perfect Angel! And your Momma/Papa is right! Thanks, Rudolph Mr. Fur-tado, for posting this!

    • Caroline says:

      Obviously, I meant the inverse. Humans sleep under the cover to slow the heartbeat down to a level to which the cat sleeping on top of them can relate; Shrimp then has to slow his heartbeat down, closer to my level. Mine speeds up, due to lack of oxygen. [Try it!]

  9. My 7 year old female cat “Matahari” loves hiding in enclosed spaces and on two occasions she got shut in our house cupboard without we realizing the same.We searched the entire house on both occasions and once i thought that she had slipped out of the house door and hence lost somewhere in the building grounds. Any bag kept open makes cat matahari creep into it and sleep peacefully without a sound or movement.I have posted a photo of her sitting inside a bag kept on the table.This was a absolutely “CANDID PHOTO” and not staged.

  10. kylee says:

    oh yes in total agreement there my cats love boxes esp if you just leave one out. They also love baskets or basically anywhere they can sleep. My late cassy loved sleeping in boxes

  11. Dee (Florida) says:

    Cats and boxes just go together. I have several all around my house, especially on top of cabinets and the entertainment center. But, the most fun of all seems to be with pocketbooks that doesn’t quite accomodate them.
    There’s something about the squeezing in that is intriguing.
    Cats and snakes are a common occurrance here. I’m presented with some, usually not poisonous, a couple times a year.

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