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Cat in the Box is a trick-taking game. Your goal is to get the most points by winning tricks. You receive bonus points for successfully predicting the number of tricks you win. However, you lose points if you cause a paradox!

The game includes:

  • 45 cards: 1-9 (5 copies each)
  • Research board with colors: blue, yellow, green, red (trump color)
  • Player boards
Card Uses
Player Cat Cards Cards per Player
5 45 (1-9) 9
4 40 (1-8) 10
3 30 (1-6) 10
2 25 (1-5) 10


  1. Cards are dealt evenly to each player
  2. After checking their hand, each player selects one of their cards and places it facedown near the research board
  3. Predict number of tricks in clockwise order

Game Play

Beginning with the start player, play a turn:

  1. Play a card and declare the observed color
  2. Place a player token on the corresponding space on the research board
  3. Determine winner of trick (See below)

Repeat playing turns until there is only one card left in your hand.

Check the winner of the trick

  • Strength of Color: If there is any card which is not the led color:
    • Red (trump): ignore all other colors
    • Colors except red: Ignore all non-led colors
  • Strength of numbers: The card with the highest number wins

The player who played the winning card leads the next trick.

Declaring the Observed Color

Rules to follow:

  1. In the row of the color you are declaring on the research board, the played card number's space must be empty.
  2. On your player board, X of the color you are declaring is not revealed.

Follow these rules depending on your position:

  • Start Player: You may only declare blue, yellow, or green. Exception: if any tokens are on the red row of the research board, you may declare red. In other words, the start player can lead with trump if it has been broken.
  • Following Players: You may declare any color (following the above rules). If you declare a color other than the led color, remove your player token of the led color on your player board, revealing X. For the rest of the round, you will not be able to declare that color.


A paradox occurs when declaring the observed color rule cannot be met. Immediately proceed to the scoring phase.


Points from tricks

  • 1 point for each trick won

Bonus points from prediction

  • 1 point for each token in the largest group of your player tokens connected adjacently on the research board

If you caused a paradox

  • -1 point for each trick won and bonus score is forfeited.

End of Game

The game ends after all players have been the round start player. The winner is the player with the most total points.