How much of your success in NCAA bracket selection is luck of the draw? I challenge my cats as an experiment in an attempt to find out and have some fun along the way.

Share story

If nothing else, the wacky experiment that follows has been really fun.

It got started from a news story – NPR in this case. I was listening to Morning Edition as they talked about that annual rite of spring: Filling out our NCAA tournament brackets.

NPR commentator, Tom Goldman was telling host David Greene about the futility of filling out a successful bracket. Goldman joked that it was a wise idea to keep pets handy, especially cats, because they seem to have a knack for picking winners. And immediately the quirks of my part-journalist, part-tech-person brain wondered if he could possibly be right.

There was only one way to tell. I have cats. And I have brackets. It was clearly time to test the idea.

Lord knows I could use the help. I fill out a bracket every year, and no matter how closely I paid attention to the college basketball season or how little attention I paid, my results seem remarkably the same.

I’ll do fairly well in the round of 64. It’s not unusual for me to be in the top two or three among people in my pool. And after that, I’ll quietly fade away.

So I figured I would do it. I would pick a bracket. I would have my cat pick a bracket. And if my cat managed to beat me it would be a clear indicator. The universe would be telling me that I should give up on ever being successful at college basketball prognostication.

Getting a cat pick a bracket proved harder than I thought though. I’d used techniques in the past to have my cats pick things and thought I would just adapt those techniques for this task.

It generally involves putting the two selections at the bottom of two different receptacles — in this case a plastic muffin tin that I had recycled for the purpose. Drop two pieces of cat food into both sides of the tin at the same time and whichever the cat eats first is the cat’s selection.

Harley, my 15-pound Holstein-colored chunk of feline, will do almost anything for kibble.

I had originally thought I would do each team’s name, but settle on a simpler method of higher seed versus lower seed to save me having to write out the names of 64 teams on pieces of paper.

We started out in the Midwest bracket with me faithfully saying the name of each team as I dropped the kibble and Harley picked either the higher seed or the lower seed, but he ran out of steam partway through the first round.

Lucky for my cat-bracket experiment another one of my cats, Elle, got interested partway through. I knew I’d never get them to make all of their selections without taking advantage of her interest and so allowed her to join Harley in filling out the cat bracket.

They both lost interest — most likely in the form of stomach space — by the beginning of the second round so I had to postpone completing the bracket until the next morning when they were hungry again, but in the end we worked our way through.

Before the first game in the round of 64 was completed, the results of their bracket were so hilarious that it made the entire endeavor worthwhile. Still, I know a lot of people won’t believe the results.

I was laughing on the floor as I scanned the results of their bracket. The cats picked a number one seed to play against a number 16 seed in the final game with the number one seed emerging victorious.

And who did they pick to win it all? The Kentucky Wildcats of course.

If you want to take a look at their picks you can see it on Yahoo.  It may require a Yahoo login.

After Day 1, the cats are in the lead.  I just hope the cats don’t end up having the last laugh.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at or Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.