Picture of a cat with head stuck in jar and the backstory

There is a backstory to all these videos of domestic and stray cats getting their head stuck in a glass jar or can. There are quite a few. The pictures always disturb me. Perhaps it is because rather than seeing the natural shape of a cat’s head which is rounded, we see the sharp, straight lines of a human-made product fixed to the cat’s neck. And it is the fact that these products are made by people which fools a domestic cat in the getting their head stuck, which can be life-threatening.

The pictures of this domestic tabby cat getting his head stuck are screenshots from a video that I can’t present on this page for technical reasons. But it’s clear that the cat in question fails to understand that he will be unable to remove his head. He should know better because when he slides it into the glass jar it is a tight fit. Why aren’t his whiskers telling him that the fit is too tight? We are told that whiskers inform a cat as to the width of a gap. Clearly this is not happening in this instance.

In trying to get into the head of this cat, it appears that they think that the glass jar is fixed in position when it is not. This I think is at the root of the problem, and what I call the backstory; a failure to comprehend. This may be because it is a human-made object in a human setting. In the wild, I would not expect a wildcat to get their head stuck like this in a natural object.

Perhaps the truth of the matter is that in the wild, the wild cat ancestor to the domestic cat never meets these circumstances. They are catching prey and you don’t catch a rodent at the bottom of a hard, smooth object which is a tight fit for your head. Domestic cats have no inherited memory of glass jars and tin cans! All their inherited genetic memory comes from the wild, chasing prey through undergrowth.

But this cat believes that as he pushes his head into the jar that the jar is fixed in place but it is only fixed because the table prevents it being pushed away from him. If the jar had been fixed in position the cat would have been able to remove his head. This is at the root of the cat’s failure to comprehend. Also, the smooth sides allow the cat to push his head in. You don’t encounter smooth-sided objects like this in the wild. If the sides were rough the cat would stop.

Depending upon your attitude regarding cat welfare and domestic cats in general, you will either be amused or distressed to see these sorts of pictures. The worst examples are starving stray cats trusting their head into tin cans in some grubby, messy urban environment in a developing country which leads to the cat starving to death because they can’t feed or see. It happens. You don’t have to look far to see videos of these distressing events.

It’s a clash of cultures: the culture of the cat and human world. In some Third World countries when the residents see a cat with a can on their head, they think the devil has descended into the cat’s body and they steer clear. This is a legacy of the Middle Ages. People still believe that the devil inhabits black domestic cats. It is hard to comprehend, as hard as it is for cats to comprehend the tight-fitting cookie jar and how it might kill them.

P.S. Cats are scavenging when they do this. Cats are not natural scavengers. And, this video was scripted. It entailed exploiting and abusing a domestic cat. Not great.


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