Those Swirly Ice Formations on Puddles Actually Have a Name

Ever seen a beautiful puddle of ice that gives you the irresistible urge to stomp on it — just like falling into a pile of leaves? Turns out, that particular ice formation has a name.

Cat-ice, which is marked by pretty “contour lines” that make swirls or concentric circles in puddles or other small bodies of water, is named because the thin ice could only potentially bear the weight of a light-footed and agile cat.

Author Robert MacFarlane posted a photo on Twitter of a typical cat-ice formation as his “word of the day” on January 2.

Several users responded with their own examples of gorgeous formations, however no one seemed to test the theory that the ice could support a cat (lucky for cats everywhere). Some examples ranged from the very simple to the very intricate.

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According to MacFarlane and other users who cited some literary references on Twitter, the ice formation is created when the surface of the water freezes and the water underneath begins to slowly recede, leaving a thin patch of delicate ice that looks like ripples.

Other users shared how the ice is referenced in different parts of the world (or by their own families). For example, one user noted that it is called “witch circles” in Sweden. Which is possibly a much cooler name.

Author Joyce Carol Oates also tweeted her own, philosophical response to the formation.

Next time you see this ice formation, be sure to treat it delicately. Or, at least take an Instagram before you satisfyingly stomp it to pieces.