Cats are among the most owned pets alongside dogs. A study states that there are about 70 million owned cats in the US with 35 million households owning at least one cat. 51% of the owned cats are female while 49% are male. With our furry friends being among the most adorable things and probably the best life companions, it is difficult to imagine that your own cat could actually eat you after you die. Research conducted recently suggests that the likelihood of your furry companion consuming your dead body is very high. Though the research might be scary for any cat owner, but it should probably be good news because if by the slightest chance you slip in your home and die and no one is able to fend for your cats, then they might still stay alive off you indirectly. If we are being fair the researchers weren’t trying to paint cats in a bad light and if you were considering getting one then, by all means, you should go ahead and own one. They conducted the research to study the effects that natural decomposition has on the human corpse. The study was conducted in Colorado Mesa University Forensics, a body farm in Colorado where scientists study dead bodies. The research was compelled by overnight surveillance footage that showed local feral cats squeezing in behind a fence in the perimeter and feasting on the already decomposing bodies.
The two cats usually came to the farm for most nights in a period of 35 days to feed on the corpses. What is chilling, however, as reported by the Washington Post, is that they ate everything right to the bone. From this, it’s clear that cats get the job done right. Another interesting fact is that the human eating cats didn’t want just any rotting body on the farm. According to the Journal of Forensic Sciences, as written in the Washington Post, cats can be quite picky with their food. They don’t experiment with it and if they find what they like, they’ll stick to that food. There were about 40 corpses on the body farm that the cats could’ve chosen from but the cats kept returning back to the same body from the previous night. In a chilling way, this proved how ironically loyal and weird cats are.
One of the cats paid its attention to the pre-chilled body of a 79-year-old woman. The camera couldn’t capture the exact part where the cat had been eating but the damage to the body indicated that the cat had focused on the soft left arm and chest tissues which were mainly fat and skin. These areas were close to where the needles had been placed for research purposes. After a cage was placed over the body, the cat stopped coming back for a week since it couldn’t get near the corpse. When the cage was removed, the cat came back almost every night to finish it scavenge on the corpse for 35 days, The second black cat fed on the autopsied body of a 70-year-old man. Its focus was on the autopsy incisions along the left shoulder. The cat ate at the soft tissues on the left shoulder and the abdomen. The black cat returned for 16 nights then disappeared for close to a month. When it came back it still showed no interest in the other nearby corpses. This might be shocking for you, cat owner or not but to veterinarians, this is not news. Veterinarians say that cats are cute, furry and cuddly predators. This just confirms what we suspected but didn’t want to admit about our feline companions.
According to Science Alerts, cats usually go for much more exposed soft bits including lips, nose and arms and feet. The two cats didn’t go for any of these parts probably because the corpses were unclothed and the body parts were easier to access. They aimed at pre-penetrated regions. Both cats exhibited a preference for bodies in early decomposition. The cats started eating the corpses when the bodies began showing early decomposition sides and stopped when the corpses got into the moist decomposition stage. It is impossible to determine whether your cat is feral just by simply looking at it obviously but the research facility is quite far away from any residential areas and outside the regular house range for a regular cat, meaning that the cats were obviously wild.
Although the thought of your cat feeding merrily on your dead body can seem horrific, the study was meant to establish behavior profiles to aid in forensic analysis and as Mikel Delgado from the University of California at the Davis School of Veterinary Medicine explains, it is not a behavior problem but a fact of life and corpse consumption doesn’t necessarily make your cat bad. That, however, doesn’t mean that your cat is examining which parts of you are juicy to eat when you die. The scavenge usually happens to pet owners who have certain illnesses who die in their homes and their bodies are not discovered quickly. The behavior isn’t just limited to cats only. Previous researchers have described pet canines and even birds and hamsters as likely to consume their owners. As in the case of the Alsatian dog in Germany that consumed its owner not because it was hungry but because it was desperate. The dog was healthy and had a bowl full of food by its side but still ate parts of its owner within an hour of his death. The researchers came to the conclusion that the dog had tried to revive its owner and when it failed began biting him away out of desperation. For the corpse consuming pets, Alexander Smith, the laboratory manager at the Colorado Mesa University Forensic research station says that it is a survival tactic since the animals are looking for a source of food and with the human remains, they seem to have found a food source.
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