Circle the Cat

Cat Circled

Below is a post I wrote for Download Squad about a game my wife turned me on to, but as it turns out the game had already been covered previously under a different name.

When you write for  a blog that has multiple authors, duplication is bound to happen. I’ve developed very good searching skills to ensure that there isn’t already an existing post for a site or product I’m about to write about, but there’s not much you can do when the game goes by a completely different name. Oh well, that’s how it goes.

And now my description of what this post is about is as long as the post itself.

Sometimes the more simple the game is, the more infuriatingly addicting it is. Circle the Cat definitely falls into that category. The goal in Circle the Cat is to completely surround the cat with green dots. Each turn you get to turn one of the yellow dots green, and the cat gets to move one space. If you surround the cat with green dots, you win. If the cat escapes, you lose. The game is certainly winnable, but you definitely need to make creative use of the pre-existing green dots on the board when the game first starts, and if you get unlucky and get only a few or a few poorly placed dots, good luck to you – you’re probably better starting over.

19 thoughts on “Circle the Cat

  1. Roland Higginbotham

    HI I was wondering ? if you can tell me how I can save this Circle the Cat game to Disk ? so I can give it to a friend of mine that dosn’t have internet service ?

    Thank You Roland Higginbotham

  2. Jason

    Sorry Roland, I don’t know if that’s possible. Thanks for reading!

  3. Mike

    Circle the Cat is a bad game… the reason I say this is that the starting configuration sometimes results in an impossible to win game, and other configurations leave it completely easy… meaning it takes almost zero skill to win.

    The strategy is to keep resetting the game until you get a feasible looking win. An optimum game is a decent trade off between skill and luck.

    About 1 in very 5 circle that cat starting configurations are possible.

  4. Zab

    Circle the cat is a fun game to do if you have a bit of spare time. Mike is right in that there are some impossible configurations, but trying those ones hones your skill for the game. I win about 45% of the games and thats counting a few I should have won but lose concentration. And I am not a gaming nut, apart from Tetris and breakout years ago, I dont play computer games at all

  5. silver


    You are badly mistaken about the percentage of games that can be won. I kept track for about 50 games after I got good at it and I won 75% of them.


  6. Steve

    I’d say even more than 75% are winnable. I lost quite a few until I got the hang of it but I can now win about 90% of games (And unfortunately I find my self playing it quite a bit).

    The only ones I can’t currently win are the ones where I only get 3 or 4 dots filled in around the edges leaving 2 sides wide opened. In this case, if the cat goes in the opposite direction to the one I choose you I’m in trouble. This doesn’t happen often though.

  7. az_lender

    I agree with Steve. Almost all games are winnable, except for those that start with (a) four or fewer dark circles or (b) all the dark circles on one side. Even then, some are winnable.

    The strategy is, start far from the cat, and create a wall with lots of holes in it, to be filled in if/when the cat approaches. A great trick is to create an equilateral hexagon whose sides have a length SQRT(3) times the center-to-center distance of absolute neighbors. Try to think of some of the originally dark circles as vertices of such a hexagon, and then darken additional vertices, starting with those farthest from the cat.

  8. gully

    I know no one has posted for a while, but I have become hooked on this game and am searching for info. I agree with Steve and silver about that about 75% are winnable, although it might be more. I am doing slightly better than that this week. I have won games when I was only given three or four filled in for me. There is a trick, because the cat is programmed to head for the shortest way out, so you can set a trap and have him head in a direction that allows you to close it off with one spot, after having closed off any other possible route.

  9. Alison

    What happened to the iPhone App for this game? My son was able to get it last Fall and now it doesn’t seem to be available. It is my favorite game and now that I am getting an iPhone, I won’t be able to get it!

  10. Gary

    The estimate 9/10 are winnable is probably about right. I just won with only 2 initial dots filled in (both on the top), and the cat headed to the lower right. I always begin with my first dot being near the center of the right side (unless dots already exist there). When the cat makes its first move, my 2nd dot is always at the edge and directly in front of it. The best thing to know about how the cat moves is that it will always choose the shortest path to the edge and if 2 or more are the same, it will pick one at random.

  11. J Savon

    It can be won with Zero dark dots to start …

  12. William Turcotte

    How did you get it to set up with zero dark spots?

  13. metapod

    The key to the game is being able to predict the cat’s behavior-it is readily subject to traps. If the cat made the best decision every move, there are many initial setups that would be not be winnable-but he doesn’t. I don’t know if every setup is winnable, but I suspect they are. I’m at about an 80% win rate right now. Interesting game, but a terrible time thief!

  14. William Turcotte

    I’m not sure all games are winable, but 95% are.

    After several weeks of toying with this game, I can win way more than 90%. I typically play 20 to 30 times before the cat gets me.

    The technique: Build a CAT TRAP. Learn to build a cat trap that will counter a vertical run to the smooth top or bottom edge. You already know the hex trap that will nicely counter a horizontal run to a rough left or right edge.

    Counter the vertical run: Figure out what spot placement it takes to prevent the cat from running to the smooth top edge and then escaping off the rough side edge. As the cat runs from the center toward a smooth edge you have 2-3 moves to build “doors” (see below) that prevent escape from smooth side to rough side. When she is in 3rd row from top or bottom (3 moves from out), place a dark spot in the last row directly in front of her, forcing her to turn and run left or right. Then as she runs along the second row place dark spots along the last row to prevent her from escaping off the smooth edge. You got her where you want her…

    Then, the trap: Her projected horizontal path to the rough side edge is impeded by a 2 dark spot door you placed within the edge 4 rows, so she can easily be turned back 120° or 180°. If she turns 180° then another 2 spot door in the opposite direction closes her in. If she turns 120° a hex trap along the rough edge is easy to build. How do you build a door? What arrangements of 2 black spots allow you to force the 120°-180° turns, and reliably build a trap? I have found 3 such door arrangements that build a trap. One such door is 2 spots in a column in 1st and 3rd rows. The cat runs along the 2nd row toward the door, but when she gets there you can close the door with a spot in the 2nd row and force a 120° turn back. There are at least three 2 spot door arrangements. I’d like to know if anyone finds a 4th door!

    To be continued if anyone is interested…

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