Schrödinger’s cat is a famed demonstration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition, a theory that was proposed in 1935 by Erwin Schrödinger (TechTarget, 2016). Schrödinger’s cat basically serves to illustrate the obvious conflict on what quantum theory conveys to us is correct as regards to the nature and behavior of matter on a microscopic level and what we perceive to be correct as regards to the nature and behavior of matter on a macroscopic level, everything noticeable to the independent human eye (TechTarget, 2016).
According to Erwin, if you place a breathing cat inside a sealed steel chamber, together with a device filled with a vial of hydrocyanic acid, a radioactive material and a hammer (Kramer, 2013). Immediately the radioactive material decays, a relay mechanism senses it and activates the hammer to discharge the poison, which consequently kills the cat. An important fact to note here is that, the radioactive decay process is characteristically a random procedure, as such, there is absolutely no way to foresee when it will occur (Winter, 2014). According to physicists the atom only exists in an environment well-known as a superposition that is, not decayed and decayed at the same time.
Practically nobody can tell whether or not an atom of the material has decayed, and subsequently, no one can tell whether the vial was broken, or the hydrocyanic acid has been released, and the cat killed. Since nobody can testify according to quantum law, then it is assumed that the cat is both alive and dead or rather in a superposition of states. It is only when the box is broken that the condition of the cat is known that the superposition is lost, and therefore, the cat can be one or the other (alive or dead).
In summary, in any physical system, deprived of a clear observation, nobody can attest to what something is doing. Generally, you have to conclude it can be whichever of these things it can be doing even if the probability is slight or small.
Kramer, M. (2013), the Physics Behind Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox. Retrieved on 16th February 2016 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130812-physics-schrodinger-erwin-google-doodle-cat-paradox-science/
TechTarget, (2016), Schrodinger’s cat. Retrieved on 16th February 2016 from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Schrodingers-cat
Winter, L. (2014), Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained. Retrieved on 16th February 2016 from http://www.iflscience.com/physics/schr%C3%B6dinger%E2%80%99s-cat-explained