We report detailed study focused on the electron density redistribution during the simple oxidative addition reaction being the crucial stage of various catalytic processes. The bonding evolution theory based on the electron localization function and Thom's catastrophe theory shows that activation of methane's CH bond by Pd atom consist of six elementary steps. The important feature revealed is the pronounced reorganization of Pd's outer core maxima corresponding to N-shell electrons of metal. Electronic rearrangements identified in this model reaction are likely to be the case in the more complex reactions of the same type involving transition metal compounds and, in principle, can be observed by modern ultrafast spectroscopy and diffraction techniques. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.