Viral Photos Show Cats Socially Distancing Same As Humans

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on May 25, 2020

Across the globe, stores and markets have implemented signage and ground markers to help people remain socially distanced during the coronavirus pandemic.

But well before these strange times, cats have proven time and again to be the masters of social distancing when they choose to be. And though cats already have the skill down, a group of felines in Quezon City, Philippines, decided to illustrate their abilities by having a seat in the social distancing circles marked on the ground in front of a market.

The Philippine Star, an area newspaper, shared photos of stray cats occupying the circles. And while the pics offer a good laugh, there is an instinctual reason behind the behavior.


Sitting in Marked Shapes and Boxes Means Survival

Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviorist at The Cat Behavior Clinic and author of The Cat Whisperer, told Inverse,”You can boil many cat behaviors down to one reason and that reason is survival.”

Meaning hanging out in boxes or sitting in taped/marked shapes comes from a will to survive. But how can such a cute and silly activity be a lifesaver for cats?

Nagelschneider explains cats are drawn to closed-in spots where they can observe the world with security surrounding them on all sides. Boxes are ideal hiding spots, but shapes marked on the ground? Apparently, that will do too. It’s “close enough for a cat,” said Nagelschneider.

“Placing themselves in a taped circle would give a cat a sense of security and safety and, at least in their minds, an increased chance of survival.”


As prey and predator, cats use hiding to their advantage in both ways. “Out in nature, they will hide from predators in a carved-out tree stump.”

“They will also hide themselves in this same tree stump to ambush their prey as part of their natural stalking and predatory behavior.”

So, if your cat is watching you from the safety of her box, be careful, she might not be hiding. She may be about to pounce you!

Masters of Observation

Beyond security measures, cats learn by observation. “Seeing a human stand in the circle can give a cat the idea to do the same.”


Nagelschneider also mentioned, “Cats instinctively have a personal comfort distance of 3 to 6 feet.”

Which means marks on the ground meant to keep humans distanced for safety are perfect boundary markers for cats too!

Feature Image: @PhillipineStar/Twitter

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