It’s a gruesome thing to think about, but we’ve all heard stories about cats eating their owners after they die. People found dead in their apartments with their faces gnawed off.
But do cats eat their owners for real? And if so, should you be worried about cats eating humans in general?
Read on to find out whether your fear of cats eating humans is justified, or if it’s just an urban myth.
CONTENT WARNING: This post contains descriptions of animals eating humans that some readers may find graphic or offensive. Reader discretion is advised.
Do Cats Eat Humans?
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat meat to survive. And guess what you’re made of? 🎃
While human flesh isn’t part of a cat’s natural diet, theoretically they could use us as a source of food. In fact, lions and tigers are known to attack and eat humans, although this happens only rarely. We are not their preferred prey. Unless you provoke the animal or they are extremely hungry due to extraordinary circumstances, you are unlikely to become their next meal.
Similarly, a small kitty would of course never attack a living human being with the purpose of eating them. Even if they were very hungry. We are far too big for them to overtake and they know that.
Will My Cat Eat Me In My Sleep?
But what if I’m asleep, or otherwise incapacitated? Will my cat prey on me then?
Some cat owners claim that they wake up in the middle of the night to find their cats gnawing on them. Usually it’s the hands or the feet, though I’ve also heard of cats gently nibbling on their owner’s nose or ears.
In most cases this is nothing to worry about. Cats are nocturnal creatures, so naturally they tend to be more active while we are sleeping. Your cat isn’t trying to eat you, but likely just looking for some love and attention.
If your cat is being more aggressive, they are probably reacting to something you are doing. Do you move around a lot while you sleep? Your cat could be trying to catch whatever is moving around under the blanket. An interactive cat toy can help to distract them away from you.
Though, if you find that it happens a lot or your cat’s aggression seems more than just playful, it might be worth seeing a doctor about it. It is rare, but you could be suffering from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which makes you physically act out your dreams, leaving you twitching and kicking in your bed.
Left untreated, the symptoms could get worse and you could end up hurting yourself, your partner, or your cat. The disorder is even linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease, so don’t take it too lightly.
If you are still at a loss as to why your cat is attacking you in your sleep, consider installing a night vision camera in your bedroom. That way you can see what your cat is up to at night and what triggers their aggressive behavior.
Will My Cat Eat Me If I Die?
Lastly, will my cat eat me if I die? Do I need to start leaving out extra food, just in case?
If you die and your body isn’t found within a day or two, and your cats have access to your body, they might end up eating some of you. Whether or not you leave out extra food for them might not even come into play.
Cats eating their owners tend to only eat the soft tissue of the face. One obvious reason for this is the fact that this is usually the only part they can access, apart from the hands and maybe the feet.
Another reason might be that they go to our faces and lick us in an effort to try and wake us up. This is, after all, the part of us they are used to communicating with. And as we start to decay, their raspy cat tongue might start to tear away our skin, exposing our flesh.
Obviously, it is impossible for us to determine a cat’s exact motivation for eating their owner’s face. But given their carnivorous nature, our fresh, raw flesh is probably just too enticing for them to resist.
Whether or not they still identify your body as you at this point is anyone’s guess. I can imagine the whole ordeal being too emotionally overwhelming for them to still know up from down.
Dogs, on the other hand, seem to lose the connection between you and your corpse rather quickly. Your cat will wait a while before dining on your fleshy parts, but your dog will just eat your entire face off as soon as they get the chance. Man’s best friend, my ass. (Just kidding! I actually love dogs!)
So, there you have it. In the end, cats do eat their owners. And dogs are even more likely to do it.
Of course this doesn’t mean that you should be like Miranda from Sex And The City and start overfeeding your pets. That would probably just leave them inclined to eat more of you if you die.
The fact is there really isn’t anything you can do about it, other than to not have cats or dogs. Or cover your house in baby gates just to keep them away from you. Nobody wants that.
The best answer is to be more like a dog about it, and disconnect yourself from your dead body. The essence of you as a living being, however you may want to call that, has left it’s earthly vessel, which is just a thing at this point. And if that thing can help to keep your pets alive while they wait to be rescued, then that’s actually a good thing, right?