On the site for this year's Amazing Meeting, there's a little joke about how organizing skeptics is like herding cats

It's a common belief that (possibly) due to their strong will and independent nature, cats cannot be herded as say, sheep can.

In fact, the phrase "like herding cats" is commonly used to describe an incredibly difficult, labor-intensive and ultimately futile task. Of course this got me to thinking, has anyone ever actually tested this?

Is there any scientific evidence indicating whether or not cats can be herded?

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    Lol :) How do you come up with these questioons? :)
    – Lagerbaer
    Jun 1, 2011 at 23:45
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    There's a temple in western Thailand where this sort of sight is commonplace. I don't know if that constitutes herding mind you. And are big cats included in this question?
    – user2466
    Jun 1, 2011 at 23:50
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    @lagerbaer Gin! :P Jun 1, 2011 at 23:54
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    I've seen my brother's Bearded Collie (sheepdog) attempt to round up his cats. She doesn't have much success, usually the cat gets annoyed quite quickly and takes a swipe at the dog and the dog gives up.
    – Tom77
    Jan 12, 2012 at 13:14
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    1) Open can of catfood. 2) Walk around holding it. Cats who you have fed before will follow you around. Not sure this counts as herding though, more leading.
    – Nick
    Sep 5, 2012 at 9:14

1 Answer 1


This paper I think goes into enough detail and looks at the possibility to train cats in groups which could be used to herd cats.

More recently, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) aired a commercial during the 2000 Super Bowl that impressed and amused countless television viewers. Cowboys were actually herding cats, thousands of cats, it seemed, though “about 60 cats were used, each with special skills such as running, swimming and sleeping” (LeSueur, 2000). The rest of the herd was created by computer enhancement.

As also indicated in the paper, cats can become attached to the person that feeds them regularly and will happily follow the owner around if there is the promise of food.

Here is a link to the video on youtube.

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    Cats can definitely be trained. I have an Abyssinian who thinks she's a dog. She comes when called, buggers off when told to, and knows she's not allowed to set a paw in the kitchen, so she'll lay down on the doorstep and watch me in there.
    – Darwy
    Jun 2, 2011 at 7:45
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    Herding cats - not so difficult cheezburger.com/Cassidy/lolz/View/2054909696
    – going
    Jun 2, 2011 at 8:37
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    To summarise: There is a FAKE SAMPLE essay (Try saying "Polly Juana Cracker" out aloud) which references (a) a random cat-lover's web-site (who appears to redefine "herd" as "comes when call with an offer of a bribe") and (b) a commercial which fakes cat-herding with computer enhancement, and this is being used as evidence for cat-herding? Combined with a comment linking to a photoshopped joke, and we have an accepted answer? I gotta go with -1, here.
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 19, 2011 at 13:53
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    When a sheep is herded it doesn't want to go in the pen, it hasn't been bribed with food or doing it out of love for its owner. It's doing it because it's (a) mildly afraid of whatever is herding it and (b) wants to stay with the other sheep. Really if the cat has been trained at all I'd say it disqualifies it. May 12, 2016 at 11:19
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    I don't know. I have seen cows in a herd go though the entire milking process just cause that's what there used to. The queue up and go though the process automatically. They certainly seem "trained" if by nothing more then repetition.
    – coteyr
    Feb 14, 2017 at 19:31

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