How to Play Rat a Tat Cat the Card Game

Quite often the best way to introduce something educational is in the form of a card game. Teach your kids the Rat a Tat Cat rules to encourage their math development and also introduce them to card game skills from a young age.

Designed to be a quick game that you can bust out to play with your kids, it has a simple premise of getting rid of cards by using memory and a little bit of strategy.

The ideal game if you’re looking for something easy to learn and teach to others, although despite being an easy game to play it doesn’t diminish the fun at all.

After all, not just any game is able to win the Mensa Select award, which Rat a Tat Cat managed in 1996.

All that you’ll need to get all the basics including how to set up the card game is to check out our handy guide to the Rat a Tat Cat rules below.

What Is Rat a Tat Cat?

Rat a Tat Cat Card Game Info Image

Rat a Tat Cat takes elements from arguably the most popular card game (Poker) and simplifies the idea so that kids can learn about card skills such as bluffing.

If you’ve ever played a game like Poker, or already know the Tripoley rules then you’re already some way there to know about a key part of Rat a Tat Cat. If not, then you should be an expert in no time by reading on.

Number of Players Required: 2 – 4 players.

Who Can Play It: 6 – 12 years, but adults may enjoy the game too.

Difficulty: Easy.

Length of Play: 10 – 20 minutes.

Similar to: Cabo; Slamwich; Poker; Golf

Main Objective: Have the 4 cards at the end of the game that totals the lowest amount. 

Why we love it: Quite often you’ll find that playing games that are the simplest are also the ones that are the most fun. A card game full of suspense, sometimes games can swing depending on factors up to and including careful strategy or even a bit of luck at the right time.

Playing Rat a Tat Cat – What You’ll Need

Unlike games such as the Pitty Pat card game or Garbage that requires the use of a standard 52 card deck, Rat a Tat Cat requires you to purchase a unique set of cards to play.

Once bought, you will need to play:

  • Rat a Tat Cat deck including 54 rat, cat, and power cards.
  • Space or table to play on.

And that is everything you need! Simple, so kids as young as the intended age can set up without any supervision required.

In terms of the deck to buy, go with the official Rat a Tat Cat set made by game developers Gamewright.

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How To Set Up Rat a Tat Cat

Rat a Tat Cat requires the minimum set up, meaning you should be able to get plenty of rounds in when you play.

Use whichever way you would like to pick a dealer. Have the dealer shuffle the deck and give out 4 cards each to every player.

Place the remaining cards in the deck in the middle faced down as the draw pile.

Overturn one card from the draw pile face up to start a discard pile to put used cards in.

Rat a tat cat rules playing image

Rat a Tat Cat Rules and Gameplay

Just like the game set up, learning the Rat a Tat Cat rules is very straightforward. 

Starting the Game

Once all players have their cards, it is important that nobody looks at their cards. If anyone looks before permitted, then the cards will need reshuffling and redealing.

Players need to face their cards down on the table and put them in a line.

Although the gameplay is in a circle one at a time, allow players to peek at 2 of their cards when the game begins, the ones at the ends of their line.

Players can only do this one time and will need to remember what card they were without writing it down. If either of these cards is a power card, keep them in the line. These cards do lose the powers that they would otherwise have had, however.

Once done and you are happy that nobody has peeked at their cards, start the game with the player on the left of the dealer.

How to play Rat a Tat Cat

Play begins with the starting player either choosing to skip their go if they are happy with their cards or by picking up a card from the draw pile.

If a player picks up a card, then they must either discard it immediately, use it to replace a card face down in their line of 4, or if it’s a power card then players can use it.

Power cards give the player who has it different abilities, which includes:

  • Peek – Lets the player peek at one of their cards in their faced down line.
  • Swap – Swap one of your cards for a card of another player. These cards are face down while swapping, so bluffing and strategy is important here.
  • Draw 2 – Gives the player the ability to draw up to 2 cards from the draw pile. If a player keeps the first card, they cannot draw the other, however.

Rat a Tat Cat is unique for a kid’s game as the play doesn’t continue until a set point, it only ends once a player believes that they have the lowest score.

That player needs to shout ‘Rat a Tat Cat’ to end the game and force everyone to count their 4 face-down cards to get a score. Players must replace any power cards in the 4 with the first number card that they receive from the draw pile.

The lowest score at the end of the round wins.

Scoring In Rat a Tat Cat

Agree upon the scoring system before playing.

There are several ways that you can choose. A popular one is setting a score where players bust if they reach it across multiple rounds and get eliminated from the game.

If you want to keep it simple though, go with a standard tally and count up how many games each player wins. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any Rat a Tat Cat rules that you can adjust for younger players?

If you’re playing with younger children, consider relaxing the rule over peeking at their cards. Young children may struggle with the memory element of the game.

Have all the cards face up so that they can work on numerical skills instead.

Alternative games to Rat a Tat Cat

Rat a Tat Cat is certainly a game that is a bit different from the norm but still has gameplay that’s easy for kids to understand while being great fun too.

If you’re after more easy but fun card games for your kids to play, consider reading the Nertz Card game rules, Blink card game rules, Golf card game rules or the Apples to Apple rules.

Or if you have kids that are fans of board games, have a look at our guides to some kid-friendly games.

Learn the Trouble rules or read up on the Guess Who instructions, 2 classic board games designed for kids that have truly managed to stand the test of time.

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