# Cute Cats

### by Nathan Wong and Moor Xu

First we notice that the 18 items seem to be grouped into 3 categories of 6 items each, distinguished by the shapes of their patterns. Each category’s images also contain a feature distinct from the rest. They are:

Pattern featureImage feature
Blanks with no asterisksContains a number from 1 to 6
Blanks with one asteriskNot a cute cat
Blanks with three asterisksNothing special

Picking out some of the more obvious photos, we can try to determine the rules for filling in the various patterns. For example, we have some caterpillars and a catfish, which might have us guess that the "non-cats" all begin with CAT. Or, we might see that ethernet cable fits the pattern for that photo and that the 3 letters indicated by the asterisks are TCA, suspiciously a permutation of CAT. The category with no asterisks may be harder to solve with just one example, but taking fan or boba and following the CAT theme eventually reveals a simple substitution rule, yielding CATAN and BOBCAT respectively.

The list as presented is sorted first by length and then alphabetically, which can also help towards solving some of the trickier clues.

Leftover information is used for indexing and/or ordering, as follows:

PatternRuleExtractionOrdering
Blanks with no asterisksSubstitute one letter for CAT to form another wordExtract substituted letterUnique number from 1 to 6 provided in photo
Blanks with one asteriskName of photographed animalExtract asteriskNumber of animals is a unique number from 1 to 6
Blanks with three asterisksPhotographic clue for a word or phrase containing a unique permutation of CAT in asterisksFirst letterLexicographic ordering of CAT permutation

The full list of clues, in order within each group, is:

ImagePatternClueExtractCat credit
(not part of the puzzle)

_____*_

CATFISH

S

n/a

___*_____

CATAHOULA

A

n/a

____*___

CATOCALA

C

n/a

____*______

CATERPILLAR

R

n/a

_____*

CATTLE

E

n/a

________*

CATHARTID

D

n/a

_____

FAN to CATAN

F

Kaymak (Mona Wang)

______

BOBA to BOBCAT

A

Honey (Mona Wang)

______

LOME to LOCATE

M

Boots (Andrew He)

________

ICHING to CATCHING

I

Vin (Cameron Montag)

______

LION to CATION

L

Hummer (Nathan Wong)

________

PLAYER to PLACATER

Y

______ ____***__

LORENZ ATTRACTOR

L

Stray from 猴硐貓村 (photo by Nathan)

_____***_

OVERWATCH

O

Boots (Andrew He)

_______***_

CERTIFICATE

C

______** *__

ABSTRACT ART

A

Hummer (Nathan Wong)

____ _***_

LAMP STACK

L

Curly (Nathan Wong)

_______* **___

ETHERNET CABLE

E