Cat’s eyes were invented by Percy Shaw in 1934 and in 2006 were voted one of Britain’s top 10 designs alongside Concorde, Mini and the World Wide Web.
Mr Shaw came up with the idea while driving home from the pub one foggy night near his Yorkshire home.
Coming down a steep hill, a sudden flash from a cat’s eyes caused him to stop the car. He realised he was travelling on the wrong side of the road and was heading for the treacherous edge.
After trial and error, he eventually patented his cat’s eye design in 1934. The Government adopted the studs during the enforced blackout in the Second World War. There are an estimated 500 million cat’s eyes n the UK. In the US, they are known as Botts’ Dots, turtles or buttons.
The move follows reports of concerned tourists fearing that animal cruelty had become a standard practice on our country roads.
Frances Knobel, from the US, said she had been shocked when she first saw the cat’s eyeswarning while on holiday in Suffolk.
“I had no idea – I had to stop the car and go back to see if I had read the sign correctly,” she said. “It didn’t make any sense and seemed very gruesome that people would boast that poor domestic animals were being so horribly mistreated.
Signs saying “cat’s eyes removed” were being read too literally so, after a string of mix-ups, Suffolk county council decided to replace them with signs warning of “road studs” ahead, and from now on the council will only refer to them that way.
We were actually having this conversation when I was home in the UK this summer. It seemed crazy to me that anyone would think they were actual cat’s eyes. But…