# very simple riddle, let's make it complicated

This is going around on Facebook-

In a square room, there is a cat in every corner. In front of every cat there are three cats. How many cats are there in all? (First one with the correct answer is supposed to repost the question)

How do you define “corner”? A square room, defined as a cube, has 8 corners. So I am taking the contrarian, alternative facts definition of the question. The answer is 8.

And what if they are Schrodinger cats?

How many were going to Altoona?

Kits, cats, sacks, wives!

How many were going to St Ives?

~VOW

Your link isn’t working for me, but is it this one - While on my way to St Ives I saw a man with 7 wives, each wife had 7 sacks, each sack had 7 cats and each cat had 7 kittens.

How many in total were going to St Ives?

I saw the same riddle, and went down the same sort of path. At one point, I focused on " In front of every cat there are three cats." Ask yourself, does this rule only apply to the Corner Cats, or does it apply to every cat? Every corner Cat has three cats in front of them, but each of those three cats have three cats in front of them , and so on and so on…We eventually end up with a solidly packed cube of cats, compressed to the highest density of cats obtainable, a state of matter I’ve dubbed “purrtronium”. I’m currently applying for grants to study the material properties of purrtronium.

It seems to me that there’s a straightforward resolution to this. There are just 4 cats, one in each corner. If each cat is facing out from its corner, then the other 3 are in front of it (if we define “in front of” as everything within 45 degrees of straight ahead, which seems reasonable).

And what if the room is the size of the known universe? Or the unknown universe?

I think that’s turtles, not cats.

Unless specified otherwise, four cats (but eight bats) can occupy separate corners, due t the nature of the beasts. Each cat can have the other 3 cats in front him, so the answer is four. Too late to say “But what if . . .”, you had your chance to specify special complicators.

I saw this earlier and my thoughts…
A square is two dimensional. So, there are four corners.
I need clarification on what “in front” means. In a race they can be in different lanes. The one that is in front is the one that has gone the farthest. But, if I’m driving and say a car is in front of me, that would imply that they are in the same lane. So, what is the angle needed?
If it has to be “in the same lane”, then you would need two cats in the middle of the room, making a total of six cats.

This has some validity, but it doesn’t avoid the problem that the two cats in the middle do not have 3 cats in front of them, and the wording of the riddle is that in front of every cat there are 3 cats.

Actually, there wasn’t a link, but yes, that is the old riddle.
~VOW

If we are talking about Theoretical Riddle Cats and not Actual Universe Cats, then obviously the answer is an infinite number of cats. The real question is whether its a countably infinite number of cats or an uncountably infinite number of cats.

According to this, there are about 200 million to 600 million cats, which seems to answer the question.

Yeah, but this is one of those stupid “Facebook puzzles” where they never tell you what underlying assumptions have been made, so that every time you produce a defensible answer, they act all smug and tell you you’re wrong, without explaining why you’re wrong.

That’s ridiculous! How can you make purrtronium out of something that doesn’t purr? If you’re not going to take this seriously, we’ll have to ask you to leave.

Four. There are three other corners with a cat in them for each individual cat. Plus, of course, turtles all the way down.

I hate that one and always want to stay out of it but usually someone will act all smug when they say that the answer is “one” and therefore I must jump in.

First, there is not enough background information to solve the problem. We don’t know if these people were going, coming, or on the way to/from St. Ives. The problem simply doesn’t tell us, so we don’t have enough information to answer the question. Many everyone, maybe just the narrator.

Second, it doesn’t say that the man’s wives were all with him, just that the man had seven wives. Likewise it doesn’t say that the wives had the sacks in their possession.

Third, as polygamy is illegal in the UK, wouldn’t a smartypants only include the one wife as the other six are not considered legally his wives, no matter what he calls them?

And even if we do take the base assumption that only I am going to St. Ives, I am not a “kit, a cat, a sack, or a wife” so the answer should be zero unless the narrator is a married woman, then it is one.

The Facebook things piss me off because some person, usually a real idiot, tries to show how “smart” they are with a background riddle that leaves out so many important points.

Wouldn’t it depend which way the cats are facing?

Yes, but since that’s not specified int the riddle, presumably you can choose which way the cats face as part of any proposed solution.

Wikipedia cites this as the most common version: