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Cats, Tactics, and the Fatal Funnel

Posted by on in Guns
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cat-in-doorway2

Cats are smart, tactically aware animals.  Most cats love high places - the top of a bookshelf, the top of a door, a railing over a high balcony, the top of the highest cat furniture you have.  They have evolved to prefer heights, because from there they can more easily scan the ground for anything that might be edible prey, and they are more protected from things (wolves, foxes, and so on) that might want to eat them.

 I had a cat who would usually sleep in my bed with or without me, and would typically curl up with her head toward the door.  Was this another tactical position, tuned by generations, so that the cat's ears, eyes and nose remained pointed in the direction from which danger could come, while keeping her back to the side or corner from which no surprises would appear?  I always thought so, and marveled at her innate ability to use her surroundings for her safety.

 But if you have ever had an indoor/outdoor cat, one that comes and goes a lot, you may have seen another behavior that is quite common among such cats: the doorway sit, or the doorway stand.  Cats are famous for pausing a long time on the threshold before deigning to actually move into the outdoors.

 Tactically aware people are taught never to do this.  Hesitating in a doorway, as in the small end of a funnel, while you are clearing a house or building where an intruder might be puts you in grave danger of being shot by someone on the other side of the door who can see you before you can see them.  Hence the term "fatal funnel" for that position, and the admonition not to pause there but to move briskly though the doorway.

 So, why is this a situation where feline situational awareness good for the cat, but bad for us?  It all has to do with the nature of the danger that might await us.  A cat who goes too quickly into the outdoors is in danger while in the open, not just from predators on the ground but from some big birds that could attack a small cat.  By waiting in the doorway, a cat can be alert for any movement that signals danger, and can quickly spring back into the safety of the house.  For us humans, however, the biggest danger for us that might be on the other side of that doorway is a gun, and a bullet is going to come at us much faster than a fox will come at a cat.  There will not be time for us to perceive the danger and retreat from it.

 Different species, different dangers, different answers to the tactical question of "How do I get safely from inside to outside, or from room to room?"

 What does your cat do that would be good or bad for you, tactically or for situation awareness?

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