November 9, 2008

PET Bottles Keep Cats at Bay

About fifteen years ago, I began to notice the unexplainable presence of 2-liter bottles around my neighborhood. Filled with water, they were placed in front of parking spaces, the walls between houses, flowerpots, even next to cars. They were conspicuous and ugly, and clashed horribly with the well-groomed yards and carefully tended plants. I entertained the idea that they were a part of some local religious ritual before gathering the courage to ask a neighbor.

Answer: they were for the cats, both strays and pets. They had clawed, chewed, and urinated on enough people's property that when a television program espoused PET bottles as a way of warding them off, people immediately decided to test out this theory. The logic was that cats hate shiny things, and the light reflecting off the water would frighten them and keep them away, especially at night.

This dubious idea was never actually proved, and surprisingly, no one ever invented a better, or at the very least, more visually pleasing solution. There have been reports of the water bottles leading to a traffic accident (the reflection proved distracting), and even being the cause of fire that broke out when the plastic functioned as a lens and burned some leaves on the ground. Yet they remain in use today, whether out of habit or fulfilling their alternative role as traffic cones for cats—still ugly, and still quite pointless.

1 comment:

Esteban Zapata said...

Greetings from Colombia.

I would like to introduce myself. I am Esteban Zapata I am a visual artist and I am actually doing a very important project in partnership with a team of anthropologists, sociologists and etólogos around easily recognized symbols or homemade animal control system. Looking for more references I found your site and some photos in which there are bottles full of water; matter that I find very interesting and is for that reason that I am writing you.

Our project is directly related with this phenomenon from which we have visual registers in different cities of Colombia, Thailand, Spain, México, Republic of Malta and Venezuela. We intend to finish our research which now bears 1 year with a book publication that will have writings, essays and images around that topic.

We propose you to join us to the project, in a virtual way, sending us your images of bottles full of water en 300 dpi to make them part of the book; of course recognizing your participation by mentioning you in the authorship of this publication, of which, we will send you a copy, as a gratitude.

Mi e-mail is.

And if you want to know more about my personal work you can find me at this website:

We hope you can be a part in this great project, I appreciate your attention.

On behalf of the entire team, I wish all the best.
Esteban Zapata.