Most people are growing accustomed to social distancing in public, but it’s not always easy to break old habits of standing right behind the person in front of you. Even with stores and theme parks reopening and placing distance markers on the ground to show customers where to stand, they can still slip outside the lines. But cats, it seems, are better at social distancing than humans.
Case in point: These photos, shot by Coleen Joice Aquino and posted on The Philippine Star’s Twitter feed. They are from Holy Spirit, a district of Quezon City in the Philippines. The images show painted circles on the ground indicating where customers should stand in order to maintain appropriate social distancing while shopping. However, instead of humans, stray cats sit waiting in the circles.
Here’s what The Philippine Star posted with the images:
These stray cats were spotted occupying the circle marks intended for the implementation of social distancing protocols in front of a store in Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City on Sunday amid enhanced community quarantine.
Aquino reported that the cats stayed at the markings for about 10 minutes. “They just went to the circles and they stayed for about 10 minutes and I was so excited that I took them pictures,” she said (translation via Google Translate).
Why Cats Do This
This behavior isn’t that strange. Whether you tape a circle on the ground or leave an extension cord in a loop, cats will often sit or lay down inside it. Experts are split on the reason why, but here are some theories.
Veterinarian Dr. Natalie Waggener writes on the South Boston Animal Hospital website that, “When they see a spot clearly demarcated by a circle, they feel psychologically comfortable because they can see their space.”
If the circle has a raised edge, it can give the cat a sense of security, similar to when they will crawl into a small box.
Some animal behaviorists say feline psychology has them sit in circles because they identify it as a new territory.
“Cats are naturally curious animals,” Waggener writes. “If you’re forming a circle with a bunch of stray socks or other materials that are new to the environment, this act alone could be intriguing enough to warrant a full investigation by your resident feline.”
Catching cats in circles actually became a social media trend a few years back. Here’s a video showing examples, and explaining why it happened.