Friday, January 14, 2011

Mystery Files - The Floating Cat Head

It was quite some time since I last did a Mystery File. The reason is simple, I'm a little daft when it comes to mysterious things. It's not that I'm not interested, but I often don't know of or notice something strange until it's smacked in my face. So eventhough odd stuff fascinate me, I just don't know much enough about the lore of WoW to delve into the truly interesting stuff. Fortunately there are plenty of competent bloggers who do a nice work with this instead of me. Both Ironyca of Stood in the Fire and Rades of Orcish Army Knife do great jobs with writing posts about strange stuff in game. If you like to read about mysterious things in WoW on a regular basis I definitely recommend you check em' out!

But I do occasionally stumble upon things that make me go "wait a sec... what the heck is that?" When leveling my shaman in Uldum (love that zone btw) the other day I found one such thing. The mysterious floating cat head. Maybe most of you already know about it, it wouldn't be the first time I got some inside joke after everyone else, and get handed a banana when I proudly point it out (daft, remember?). In case you don't, let me explain the floating cat head to you shortly.

In the Vir'naal lake in the middle of Uldum there is, just outside one of the small harbors along the shores, some sort of toy cat head floating in the water. Just like that. It does have some sort of loop on its head, suggesting it's a bobber of some sort. But there is no one else to been seen around. No fisher even close. And definitely no fishing line coming from the cat head (which could just be bad graphics). It's no small head actually, so it's easy to see once you know it's there. Question is of course - what is it doing there? And what the heck is it anyway?

A floating cat head? I set out to investigate. I did all the quests I could find in Uldum, but there is no mention of this mysterious head anywhere that I could find. Npcs in the vicinity won't say anything about it (but I didn't talk to all the npcs in Uldum of course). I thought Googling on "floating cat head" could lead to potentially nasty sites, so I did that very reluctantly. I was prepared for gruesome and saw mutilated cats for my inner eye (yes, the horror), but fortunately people aren't just as twisted on the internets as I thought they'd be. The floating cat heads I found where very non-horrible, in fact none of them where of real cats. It seems unfortunately most people will call any cat head detached from it's body (in art! Not for real) a "floating cat head". I got to see some nice drawings in Deviantart, and some store that sold t-shirts with Floating Cat Heads on which basically just was a photoshopped cat head on a t-shirt. But nothing about my Floating Cat Head.

My next stop was Wowpedia. "Floating Cat Head" and "Cat Head" didn't generate any result that seemed even closely related to what I was actually looking for. But where would I look next? Wowhead? Problem is, the cat head isn't targettable and I doubt if wowhead contains many untargettable items. In any case, a quick search as the one above didn't generate any results that seemed to bring me closer to a solution.

What about the wow forums? Surely someone must've mentioned it over there! But either my search skills are too bad or there just isn't anything over there. In any case I couldn't find a word about it. Which just makes things even more mysterious. I strongly doubt I am the first person to have rubbed my temples to solve this one. On the internet no one is alone or first.

It seemed I only had one more option. It did seem to be the most farfetched one, but it has saved me in a pinch before - wikipedia. So I went over there and did a search for "cat head", definitely not expecting to find anything useful. But lo and behold - I did! Actually, wikipedia even brought me three possible solutions for the cat head - a musician, a term for a windlass and the one I finally fell for, a part of a ship.

According to wikipedia (and we all know that everything on wikipedia is the truth) a cathead refers to "A cathead is a large wooden beam located on either bow of a sailing ship (...) used to support the ship's anchor when raising it (weighing anchor) or lowering it (letting go), and for carrying the anchor on its stock-end when suspended outside the ship's side." Could this be the answer to my mysterious floating cat head? It was as close as I had gotten, but I wasn't completely satisified. The cathead described seemed to sit fastened on a boat. My cat head was all alone out in the water. This wouldn't be the first time Blizzard does a factual error in one of their games, probably not even their largest one, but it still seemed a little too wrong to be right, if you know what I mean.

This did bring me to a dead end however. I didn't feel much closer to an answer than when I had started. My closest guess is that it is some pun by Blizzard on a simple boat term, another guess would be that it is some inside joke that I'd never understand anyway. What do you think? Is the solution obvious and have I just missed it? Or do we have a real mystery on our hands?

UPDATE 11/6-11:
Apparently, this could be a remain from a set of fishing bobbers that Blizzard wanted to implement with the 3.1 patch, but for unknown reasons this was never done. Thanks to commenter Selinn for the link! I know it was linked on a thread on mmo-champion by user R3nd some day ago as well. This of course doesn't explain why it is floating around by its own in the Vir'naal Lake, but it wouldn't be the first time Blizzard forgot to remove something that was removed from the game.


  1. A mystery!! I'm very intrigued! I will have to pop out there tonight and check out this oddity. The bobber appearance makes me wonder if you have to fish on it or near it? But then again, it's cat-like, so perhaps it has a connection with the natives.

    Then again, maybe it's just a joke - maybe the crocs in the river like eating the cat-men, so the cat-men dryly use their own visage as fishing bait to draw them near. In any case, fun find! I'm quite curious now.

  2. How odd! I might try fishing near it...maybe I can catch it!

  3. I am so glad someone else thinks this is weird. I noticed it almost a month ago and have been pondering about it ever since. I even wrote a blog post about it back in December. Now that you're investigating it I will update my blog with the news.

  4. Nonono, go away! - first I hear voices nobody else hears during digging (thanks to ToL for clearing this up at least!) and now you're telling me there's a floating cat head somewhere out there...arGhL!

    I can't resist investigating stuff like that, it's gonna be the end of me yet...ya know, curiosity killed the cat or something!


  5. @Rades
    Yes I bet it's just a joke to have us scratch our heads. Damn them! They've succeeded.

    Ohh, that would be cool! Special Cat Head keychain, maybe they should start a merchandise too?

    A WoW-blog I've missed? How could this be! Added you to my reader :)

    Haha, I think people like you are the reason Blizzard implement crazy stuff like that. They know there will always be a bunch of players who, like me, "waste" a couple of hours trying to figure out what the heck it is ^^

  6. I have nothing of value to add. I just wanted to say; awesome. :D


  7. Open a ticket... GM will tell you.

    1. It's a bit iffy sometimes with which Gm you get some don't seem to know a lot. But that was a nice find :)

  8. @Gav
    But I didn't even manage to find out what it was! That's like anti-awesome ;)

    Yeah, maybe someone has a thing for cats over at Blizzard :O In fact Uldum could be seen as the cat-level with all those cat-people running around. Speaking of which, where are the cat-ladies?

    Ah, that would be cheating!

  9. I saw it too while leveling and assumed it was an item in relation to a quest: "My cat's head is missing, it looks weird when it eats, could you find me the head please?" or something.


  10. @Ironyca
    Haha, that made me laugh! And made me think about Mike the headless Chicken!

  11. I just found this bobbing in the lake myself, and after calling my partner in to share my bemusement, I googled "cat head vir'naal lake" and found your blog post.
    It has me intrigued as well... I wondered if it was a marker for something. Very odd.

  12. I think its just a fishing float that marks the underwater entrance to Murkdeep Cavern ....though I really wish it was something more ....perhaps a fishing contest or archeology find, or even a mount like the camel figurine loot

  13. I.... Ok, I know this can't be right, but...that looks like Luna-P.

    Some pics for comparison:

    Luna-P was a toy used by Chibiusa in the anime Sailormoon.... I doubt Sailormoon would get a reference in WoW....but this floating cat head seems really close to one.

    It makes me think of an episode where Chibiusa was leaving, she was standing on a dock at a large lake, with Luna-P at her side.

  14. LOL I agree! The moment I saw it, I thought of Luna-P!

  15. @Anons
    Haha yeah, you're right. That actually looks pretty much like it. But could that really be it? Seems really odd then. But it's pretty odd already so suppose it can't get much worse ^^

  16. Found an answer for you, though why there's one just mysteriously floating in the lake in Uldum for no apparent reason is known only to the WoW devs...