Would a cat really eat its dead owner?

Colorado Springs, Colorado - Have you ever caught your cat giving you funny stare – maybe even with a hungry look in its eye? Chance are it's just feeding time, but that look could have a very different meaning if there's no one left to do the feeding...

Cats could start snacking on their deceased owners if are hungry enough.
Cats could start snacking on their deceased owners if are hungry enough.  © 123rf.com/Руслан Ибрагимов (Ruslan Ibrahimow)

According to a study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, felines with a taste for human flesh aren't something out of a Stephen King novel.

Researchers concluded that owners who die at home run the risk of being eaten up by their starving pets.

The investigation completed at the Colorado Mesa University's Forensic Investigation Research Station featured is full of morbid highlights. At one point, two feral cats broke into the facility known as the "body farm," where deceased bodies donated to science are kept, and feasted on the cadavers, according to the Washington Post.

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The two interlopers kept coming back for second helpings over several weeks and became notably partial to arm, chest, and shoulder tissue.

Interestingly, each cat picked a particular cadaver and stuck with its respective choice for the duration, without sampling any of the others.

One went for the body of a 79-year-old woman and fed mainly on the soft flesh of the left arm and the chest. The other preferred a 70-year-old man's arm and belly.

Chilling tales of owners eaten by cats have been around for years

It's not clear exactly what will turn a house cat into a man-eater.
It's not clear exactly what will turn a house cat into a man-eater.  © 123rf.com/Saksan Maneechay

"The main theory is that cats are, like, picky eaters. Once they find a food that they like, they'll stick with it," said Sara Garcia, the lead author of the study.

Stories of people living alone and being devoured by their desperate cats after they die have been making the rounds for years.

One particularly gruesome case involved a man in his early 30s who died at home and became a snack for his 10 cats. But because his cause of death had been an overdose on medication, the toxic meat ended up killing the animals as well.

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Overall, scavenging behavior in cats has been less studied than in dogs. Apart from sheer hunger, it's not clear what exactly turns floofy felines into morbid man-eaters.

Cover photo: 123rf.com/Руслан Ибрагимов (Ruslan Ibrahimow)

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