Match Cat

Match Cat

Some things seem easy to figure out in retrospect, once you know the answer. Sometimes it takes a quick change in perspective to see it. For this you’ll need nine matches and a willing participant.

Guide lines
Ready, Steady, Go!

Have one or a couple of participants standing on the same side of a table surface as you and place down the matches.


You want to see how easy it is to make a cat appear?

You’ll have their attention. With them viewing from the same perspective as you, place the 9 matches into a sequence that reads ‘100’.

Lend me your ears

Lay down the mind challenge.


What number do the matches currently spell out?

They’ll say ‘100’.


You’re a natural, but here’s the interesting part… can you move only two matches for ‘100’ to spell the word ‘cat’?

Give them a few tries, resetting each time that it doesn’t work.

Seal the Deal and Reveal

Tell everyone to move to the other side (ie, the opposite side) of the table surface, so they’re facing matches that now read, ‘001’.


We can make a cat appear by simply moving two matches… watch.

One match turns the ‘1’ into a ‘T’, the bottom of the middle ‘0’ slides up halfway to form an ‘A’.

Some extra lines you can try

  • Voila, a cat of nine tails, er, matches.
  • No animals were harmed in the making of this icebreaker
  • This icebreaker just requires a little paws for thought.
Alternative ending

Demonstrate a second possible ending, with yet another change in perspective. Using the same match moves, change ‘100’ to ‘CAT’ in a vertical rather than horizontal direction. It works both ways.

Anticipated responses and retorts

Does anyone ever get this right?

Some do. Cat people nail it.

Are you into cats?

I like the fury guys and also, I like to play with matches.

Do you ever wet your bed at night?

Funny. But hey, I don’t light ‘em.
Good follow ups
When & where
When to use it
  • When you want to get people thinking laterally.
  • When you want to get people chatting.
  • When you want to have a wee bit of fun.
Where to use it
  • general informal gatherings
  • team building events
  • in a restaurant
  • socializing at the bar
Getting ready
Items required
  • A box of matches (9 matches to be precise)
  • Just lay out 9 matches on a flat surface, like a table, and you are good to go.
Training required
  • Make sure whoever you show this to sees the matches from your POV (Point of View), so have them sitting next to you and not opposite you.
Watch out (potential unexpected effects)
  • A meow or two.

type type

Do It Yourself (DIY)

material material

a box of matches

size size

9 matches precisely

durability durability

look after the matches and they will look after you

source source

the ether

time to impact time to impact

pretty much there and then

size of audience size of audience

one-on-one or in a group

possible health risk possible health risk

cat lovers may make noises

reusable how many times you can use it

just once

training needed training needed

if you can do it once then you can do it forever

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