I've had exploding kittens for a while but haven't really played it because every time I try to play, nobody really knows whether they are supposed to keep what they draw secret or show it to everybody to prove it isn't an exploding kitten.

Are you supposed to show everybody what you draw when you draw it (allowing more complicated strategies based on remembering what cards people have) or do you just trust that nobody hides an exploding kitten?

The instructions make no mention of this.

4 Answers 4


The rules (which are available online) do specify that hands are secret. This is within the setup section:

  1. Shuffle the remaining deck and deal 4 cards face down to each player.

  2. Deal 1 Defuse card to each player so that everyone has a hand of 5 cards total. Keep your hand secret

The draw step is part of the normal turn order:

  1. Finally, end your turn by drawing a card from the Draw Pile into your hand and hoping it’s not an Exploding Kitten.

So the game tells us that hands are secret and cards drawn are added to our hand - at no point does it tell us to reveal the drawn card.

The exception for an exploding kitten being revealed immediately is covered under the specific rules for exploding kittens:

You must show this card immediately. Unless you have a DEFUSE CARD, you’re dead. Discard all of your cards, including the EXPLODING KITTEN.

So yes, you trust people to admit when they have a kitten. Cheating is possible (i.e. hold a kitten, then steal a defuse and pretend the next card was a kitten), but apart from that specific case it won't stop them being found out by the end of the game.

  • 2
    Thanks, the "Keep your hand secret" makes this pretty clear. I was looking in the gameplay section where it outlines how to draw for whether it needed to be secret, and forgot to look at the setup instructions. Mar 16, 2016 at 12:49
  • I think cheating is difficult, since you must show the kitten immediately. Every time I've played we reveal it before even adding it to our hand. Adding a "fake kitten" to your hand and then shuffling cards around to reveal a kitten drawn earlier would be very suspicious.
    – ghoppe
    Mar 16, 2016 at 17:30
  • @ghoppe Most people won't be paying super close attention, and you could play it off as going for your defuse. It might be a bit obvious but still, if someone really wanted to cheat at the game (which is dumb :P ) they could do it and people probably wouldn't call them out if they said it was what they drew.
    – Samthere
    Mar 16, 2016 at 17:33
  • 3
    @Samthere I agree, if someone really wanted to cheat they would probably get away with it because people would not expect it. Who the heck would ruin such a light-hearted game by cheating?? :) — But a simple house rule "reveal before putting it in your hand or your defuse won't work" would alleviate that issue if your play group is suspicious.
    – ghoppe
    Mar 16, 2016 at 17:38

You know exactly how many exploding kittens are in the deck and there are no cards that allow you to put cards from your hand back in the deck, so it would become obvious at some point if someone cheated (either someone else drew an exploding kitten from their hand or the end of the deck was hit and there was more than one player left). Thus, I believe keeping cards secret is the way to go.

  • Those are some great points in addition to Toon's answer, thanks! Mar 15, 2016 at 21:28

It is not defined in the rules.

You get the most interesting game by drawing blind and revealing only the exploding kitten.

Edit I just found a section in the rules that implies very clearly that you don't show the card unless it is an exploding kitten:

EXPLODING KITTENS: You must show this card immediately. Unless you have a DEFUSE CARD, you’re dead. Discard all of your cards, including the EXPLODING KITTEN.

  • I did notice that part, but it's implied so I wasn't sure since it didn't specifically say whether or not regular cards needed to be shown. Mar 16, 2016 at 12:48

Adding to other comments regarding cheating, I think it would be practical to draw, look at the card, and then if it isn't a kitten, add it to your hand. That way, no one can sneak kittens out of their hand and into the game to defuse it, since the drawn card is clearly separate from your hand.

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