Tigers may be big and scary, but people love them. Thanks to their beautiful, stripy fur and slinky way of walking, tigers always win more votes for Most Popular Animal than their less exciting cousin, the housecat. It’s the mascot, or team pet, for everyone from the Detroit Tigers to the Cincinnati Bengals to Princeton University. In some ways a tiger is like your housecat, too: tigers like to be alone, they purr when they’re happy, and they hiss when they aren’t. On the other hand, a tiger can run 30-40 miles per hour and eat 40 pounds of meat in one day, and its roar can be heard from over a mile away. So a housecat might be a less exciting pet, but a much easier one!
Wee ones: “Eenie meenie miny mo, catch a tiger by the toe.” If you catch 2 tigers by the toe but let one go, how many do you have left?
Little kids: Tigers are huge, with a body length of up to 11 feet. If you’re 4 feet “long,” how much longer is the tiger? Bonus: A tiger has 5 claws on each front paw (including the higher thumblike one) and 4 on each back paw. How many toes does he have for you to grab?
Big kids: Unlike housecats, tigers do like water. If your cat will take a bath for only 6 seconds, but a tiger will last 11 times as long, how long does the tiger last? Bonus: Tigers can weigh up to 850 pounds! If your bathtub can hold 1,100 pounds total without falling through the floor, how much water (in pounds) can you give your 850-pound tiger for his bath?
The sky’s the limit: If you’re driving 50 miles per hour from home towards the zoo, and a tiger that’s escaped from the zoo is running 40 miles per hour towards you, where do you and the tiger meet if the zoo is 72 miles from your house?
Wee ones: 1 tiger left.
Little kids: 7 feet longer. Bonus: 18 toes.
Big kids: 66 seconds. Bonus: 250 pounds of water (only about 30 gallons).
The sky’s the limit: For every 4 miles the tiger runs, you run 5 miles, so to solve this we can divide the distance into sets of 9 miles. There are 8 sets of 9 miles, so the tiger runs 32 miles and you run 40. You’ll meet 40 miles from your house.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.