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It often happens that during a Chase Scene, 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 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 completely dismiss the spot where the hero was, and move on. Hurray! Our heroes are saved!
- The first episode of Innocent Venus 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 Dragon Ball Z: 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 Ninja Scroll, 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 Ninja Log to avoid some projectiles and escape.
- In the first episode of Toumei Shoujo Ea the boy and the invisible girl are hiding from The Men in Black in a pile of very clean garbage bags. The Men in Black pass the pile by, then turn back and fire! But it's only a kitten.
- Subverted in Genesis Climber Mospeada and it's Robotech: New Generation counterpart. Yellow, Ray and Mint are in Carnegie Hall hiding from an Inbit 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 Cowboy Bebop 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 deathly afraid of cats, turns his full attention to it and tries to shoot it, allowing Spike time to throw something big and explosive at him.
- Tintin has been assisted by decoy animals on occasion:
- Dr. No. James Bond, 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 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 Snakes on a Plane, 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. Come to think of it, the bad guys may have planted that cat there for that purpose.
- In the 1959 film adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, 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 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.
- 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 Memory Sorrow and Thorn, when Simon is hiding in a cellar from the Evil Sorcerer Pryrates, he is saved from Pryrates' Compelling Voice 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.
- In The Animals of Farthing Wood, 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.