Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat: Experts Weigh In


On March 2, 2017, something really bizarre happened. Jonathan Davis is just an ordinary man from Massachusetts. While on his way to work, he saw something very unusual. Luckily, he was able record it and post it on his Twitter page. The shocking footage in his tweet quickly captivated the Internet. This crazy story has been shared on many popular news websites.

The tweet is a video showing a group of wild turkeys circling a dead cat in the middle of the road. Why would they do a creepy thing like that? Let’s see what the experts have to say.

Experts Explain The Reason For The Circling

shadow of a cat

Alan Krakauer

Alan Krakauer is a biologist at the University of California, Davis. He studies the behavioral ecology of birds. Krakauer believes the turkeys in the video may be engaging in a “predator inspection.” Although it is quite a risky move, it can save the prey from becoming a predator’s next meal. When the prey lets the predator know it is there, their presence alone could potentially drive the predator away. However, in this case, a cat is not a predator.

Krakauer also thinks they may have been continuously dancing around the cat to wait and see if it would wake up.


For Alan Krakauer, the behavior of the turkeys is nothing new. He once saw turkeys do something similar with a dead coyote. For obvious reasons, a predator inspection on a coyote would make more more sense than on a cat.

Richard Buchholz

Richard Buchholz is a professor of biology at the University of Mississippi who has also seen the same type of behavior occur.

Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes is a wildlife biologist from the National Wild Turkey Federation. In a phone interview with National Geographic, Hughes said it is fear and curiosity to blame for the turkeys’ behavior.

“My guess is they are puzzled by the strange behavior of the dead or dying cat,” says Hughes, “[and wanted] to get a better look, without getting too close.”

Was It A Ritual?

group of turkeys

Jonathan Davis is just one of many to say the event looked like a ritual. It couldn’t possibly be some sort of ritual before a meal. Wild turkeys eat insects and other small animals. However, they don’t eat cats.

Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner is a turkey expert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Gardner tells The Verge that it’s not unusual for birds to get in a circle and chase each other around. In order for a flock to stick together, the turkey’s instinct is to chase after the tail in front of it.

Final Thoughts…….

It is clear that what happened on March 2, 2017, was not uncommon. However, in the video posted on Twitter, we may never know the exact reason the turkeys were circling around a dead cat. We know it was not any kind of a ritual. Since a cat is not a predator, it may not have been a “predator inspection” either. Perhaps it was a combination of both fear and curiosity.

All it may have took was one or two curious turkeys to move towards the cat, eventually causing the group to naturally join in a circle around it. If we only knew how long they were dancing in a circle. It would be fascinating to see the footage of what actually happened the moment the flock of wild turkeys saw the cat, until the moment they walked away from it.

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About Joseph Caltabiano

Joseph Caltabiano is a blogger, oddities lover and a former surgical technologist. He left the field of surgical technology to pursue a career in blogging and internet marketing. As clearly shown in his posts, Joseph is very passionate about unusual topics. His two most favorite topics are medical and weird science.