[[quoteright:350:[[Anime/InnocentVenus http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/convenientdecoycat_4825.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Hint: The hero is hiding on the right.]]

It often happens that during a ChaseScene, the protagonist hides behind a garbage can, empty container or another large object, hoping that the bad guys won't notice their presence. During this critical stage, the hiding protagonist usually [[SoMuchForStealth makes a noise]] that attracts the bad guys. Everything seems to be doomed until...

A small animal -- almost always a cat, but it can also be a mouse, squirrel, raccoon, bird, etc. -- appears just next to him and distracts the bad guys, who then '''[[TheGuardsMustBeCrazy completely dismiss]]''' the spot where the hero was, and move on. Hurray! Our heroes are saved!

Not to be confused with CatScare (used in suspense or horror movies), or ThatPoorCat (which refers to the sound made by a disturbed cat, and may appear as the sound made by the decoy cat).

Related to ItsProbablyNothing and NobodyHereButUsBirds. Compare ConvenientlyTimedDistraction when it's not an animal causing the distraction. One of many EscapeTropes.

Can overlap with BlindAlley.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The first episode of ''Anime/InnocentVenus'' has a cat serving as decoy. The hero was actually wearing an infrared invisibility cloak, making him immune to the enemy's heat detection camera.
* A variation in ''Anime/DragonBallZ'': Krillin, Gohan and Dende are trying to hide from Vegeta, who just learned to detect ''ki''. When he sensed Dende's small ''ki'', a fish jumps off the water, leading him to think that was the ''ki'' he sensed and leave.
* In ''Anime/NinjaScroll'', when a group of ninja fail to kill their target (who turns out to be an undead monster), the team leader uses a cat as a NinjaLog to avoid some projectiles and escape.
* In the first episode of ''Series/ToumeiShoujoEa'' the boy and the invisible girl are hiding from TheMenInBlack in a pile of very clean garbage bags. TheMenInBlack pass the pile by, then turn back and fire! But it's only a kitten.
* Subverted in ''Anime/GenesisClimberMospeada'' and its ''{{Anime/Robotech}}: New Generation'' counterpart. Yellow/[[DubNameChange Lancer]], Ray/Rand, and Mint are in Carnegie Hall hiding from an Inbit/Invid sentry when a cat runs by and stops the sentry believing the noise it heard was just a cat. Turns out the cat was actually a performance by a boy named George who appeared to help the heroes.
* Another variation in the ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' episode "Pierrot Le Fou", where Tongpu has Spike cornered, ready to finish him off, when suddenly a cat meows at him from a fire escape. Tongpu, who is [[ChekhovsGun deathly afraid of cats]], turns his full attention to it and tries to shoot it, allowing Spike time to throw something [[StuffBlowingUp big and explosive]] at him.
* Meowth plays this role in a Unova episode of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', oddly by pretending he's not a cat, but a rare Umbreon. The trainers chasing him are disappointed when they discover he's not a rare pokemon, merely a ''talking Meowth''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Tintin}} has been assisted by decoy animals on occasion:
** In ''Recap/TintinPrisonersOfTheSun'', Tintin is almost spotted by Chiquito sneaking onto the "Pachacamac," but there is a convenient cat. "No es nada, debe de ser el gato..."
** In ''Recap/TintinLandOfBlackGold'', Snowy serves as a Convenient Decoy Dog when a SneezeOfDoom almost gives Tintin away.

* ''Film/DrNo''. Film/JamesBond, Honey Rider and Quarrel are hiding underwater in a river with Dr. No's guards searching for them using German Shepherds. The dogs are clearly [[TheyHaveTheScent on the protagonists' scent]] ("They're onto something!"), the guards draw nearer and then...a flock of birds bursts out of cover, the guards figure that they're what the dogs were after, and leave.
* Inverted in ''Film/SnakesOnAPlane'', where the cat benefits the villains: the luggage inspection dogs detect the snakes, but the handlers think they're just barking at a hissing cat and move on. [[FridgeBrilliance Come to think of it,]] the bad guys may have planted that cat there for that purpose.
* In the 1959 film adaptation of ''Theatre/TheDiaryOfAnneFrank'', one scene has a pair of Gestapo officers searching the residence where the refugees are hiding because someone else broke in. The refugees' cat ends up knocking a plate from a table and arouses suspicion, but then resolves it as well by meowing, causing the officers to think that the cat is the only living thing around.
* The scene in ''Film/{{Predator}}'' when Dutch gets covered with mud, making the predator unable to detect him in infrared. The predator still closes in on him, then gets distracted by a rat.
* ''Film/BeneathThePlanetOfTheApes''. While Brent and Nova are outside the ape city, a gorilla guard hears them but doesn't realize who (or what) they are. The guard fires several shots into the trees in which they're hiding and a bird flies out of the trees. The guard thinks that the bird was what he heard and walks away, allowing Brent and Nova to escape.

* [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]] owns a massive cat. This comes in useful when his rogue wizard ex-girlfriend is hiding in his home while a wizard law enforcement agent is being hostile and suspicious in his front room. Hearing a thump, the Warden starts to investigate, until Mister the cat runs out and Harry makes a wisecrack about how the cat could be a dangerous subversive. This defuses the situation entirely.
* In ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'', when Simon is hiding in a cellar from the EvilSorcerer Pryrates, he is saved from Pryrates' CompellingVoice by the sudden appearance of a grey cat, whom the villain mistakes for the intruder he was searching for. The cat comes in handy much later in the story, too.
* Invoked in ''Literature/ProvostsDog'', when the main character's talking cat chooses run into an alley so that the muggers hiding there will say "It's just a cat" and the police main characters will know what they're walking into.
* Used by Literature/JamesBond in ''Literature/{{Goldfinger}}'', the unfortunate cat ends as Oddjob's lunch.

[[folder:Live-action TV]]
* Used and then subverted in ''Series/ElChavoDelOcho''. During an ImagineSpot episode, Chavo and Chilindrina sneak into the Witch of the 71's apartment (who here is an actual witch). Chilindrina accidentally makes a noise and when the Witch asks who's there, she meows. The Witch assumes it is her cat and sends it away. Chavo then makes another noise and the Witch asks again, to which Chavo replies "[[TooDumbToLive Another cat!]]".
* Averted in the BBC adaptation of ''Series/{{Poirot}}''. In one episode a pair of jewel thieves are hiding in a museum, only for an overly-friendly cat to draw attention to their location.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In [[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Radiant Dawn]], the opening cutscene features soldiers distracted by a bird. Partially averted, as the bird's owner, [[StupidGood Micaiah]], is found by another soldier.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' during Sabin's scenario, when you select "hit it" to open a chest in an imperial camp, you attract a nearby guard and hide, but the guard is dismissed by a "meow".
* Played for laughs in ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' where you break in the home of a sleeping man who wakes up and sleepily asks around if someone is there. You have the option of doing a rather obvious "meow" in your text options, and the man accepting it and going back to sleep. But then he awakens right back, saying "but I don't own a cat!", but replying [[InsaneTrollLogic "Yes, you just adopted one"]] also works, convincing him to return to sleep. You then go through several more of these arguments that he should just ignore you, each more absurd than the last, but every one [[WhatAnIdiot accepted by the home owner that you are in fact his cat.]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAnimalsOfFarthingWood'', Fox is escaping from human presence after drifting unconscious on a floating log. He runs and hide behind a box in a back alley. A female human is looking for him , but hears a cat meow, thinking it was just a cat this whole time. Fox is then introduced by the cat.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLooneyTunesShow'': One appears in the copy room of the Spargle company to distract Daffy when he is chasing Bugs in "Off Duty Cop".
* Invoked in ''WesternAnimation/AngelaAnaconda''. When Johnny accidentally falls into the bushes while spying on Nanette and her friends, he imitates a crow to deflect their suspicion.