Can a domestic cat kill a human?

As the word at the beginning of the question is “can” I can discuss it theoretically. Theoretically a domestic cat could kill a human directly (physically) under very exceptional and infinitesimally rare circumstances but there are probably instances where domestic cats in countries other than in the West have killed humans indirectly by transferring the disease of rabies to them.

Cat attacks woman viciously
Cat attacks woman viciously. Screenshot
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Domestic cat killing a human directly

The following might have happened. A domestic cat jumps up to the head in self-defence, of a human who is attacking him. They swipe at that person and bite them. They might be able to puncture the skin to a sufficient depth in the neck to damage the carotid artery. The human might bleed to death. One person living in India writing on the website said that this happened once. I have no reason to disbelieve them and it seems just about feasible under, as I state, exceptional circumstances. However, the carotid artery is at a depth of 13.2 ± 5.6 mm below the skin and protected by muscle. This makes this scenario almost impossible to contemplate.

Common sense tells me that the domestic cat is much too small to kill an adult human in an attack using claw and teeth.

Woman Attacked By Black Domestic Cat
Woman Attacked by Black Domestic Cat

RELATED: Woman hospitalized after savage attack by Bengal cat causing deep wounds

There may be very rare instances of domestic cats killing babies in an attack but it is hard to believe that this has happened because a domestic cat would not attack a human unless they were defending themselves. There’d be no need to attack a baby. Or they suffered from rabies. This leads me to the next topic.

Domestic cat killing a human indirectly

There are reports of stray, feral or perhaps even outside domestic cats attacking humans because the authorities believed that they had rabies. But often the cat is killed because of the fear of getting rabies. When a community cat attacks a person even for good reason they are sometimes killed by the authorities as a precaution so they can do an autopsy on the brain to detect rabies. If it was due to the cat being rabid it would be a feral cat that had caught the disease from another animal such as a bat. ‘Bats were the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (33% of all animal cases during 2018)’ in the US according to CDC.

I don’t know of any other disease that can be carried by a domestic cat which is zoonotic i.e. it can be transferred to a human, which could kill a human. It’s all down to rabies which, it must be said, is present in the USA but it is infinitesimally rare for a human to be killed by rabies acquired from a domestic cat. It may never have happened in the US but it might have occurred in an Asian country for instance.

Woman pets stray cat causing rabies alert
Woman pets stray cat causing rabies alert. Area of bite. Pic in public domain.

I suspect that all examples concern feral cats and even those are exceptionally rare. Alley Cat Allies say: “There has not been a single confirmed case of cat-to-human rabies in the U.S. in the past 40 years. In fact, only two human rabies cases have been attributed to cats since 1960.” They also state that: “Today’s treatment for humans exposed to rabies is proven to be nearly 100% effective”.

Community cats in the USA are not a threat concerning rabies. Please click on the link below which takes you to a story about a man who died of rabies from a cat bite in Morocco:

The final picture of a man who died of rabies after being bitten by a rabid cat in Morocco


As the question impliedly asks whether a domestic cat has the strength and weapons to kill a human directly, then the answer is theoretically yes under almost unbelievable circumstances but which I believe have never been documented although there might be anecdotal evidence.

Below are some articles on rabies.

1 thought on “Can a domestic cat kill a human?”

  1. Yes a cat can kill a human. After reading Stephen Kings “The Cat from Hell” I think like any animal abused can hate humans. Dogs kill people all the time because they have been made to kill but with a cat I think the cat decides to kill someone. LOL. But seriously I’ve have a few cats that if you touched them the wrong way they’d take your arm and hand off. Those I learned only touch if they come to you. 🙂


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