This is a bizarre but nonetheless interesting suggestion which demands discussing. Comic wags and cat haters have picked up a study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh which investigates the personality of domestic cats. They bundle together the domestic cat with a selection of wild cat species, much larger animals such as the snow leopard and African lion. Their unsurprising conclusion is that the domestic cat has a similar personality to the African lion or the clouded leopard or the snow leopard in respect of fundamental personality traits such as dominance, agreeableness, impulsiveness and neuroticism. In the words of the conclusion to the study they say:
“Across the five felid species we assessed, personality structure was strikingly similar. An overall taxon personality structure reflected the similarity with factors labelled dominance, eroticism and impulsiveness….”
So domestic cats are like the big cats. We knew that all along. The domestic cat is a domesticated North African wildcat, domesticated initially about 10,000 years ago. We know that the domestic cat retains a lot of his wild instincts and desires. But if they were larger, the size of a snow leopard, they would just be larger. They would be the same animal. I’ve never heard of a domestic cat trying to devour his or her owner. Yes domestic cats like to play and when they play they nibble with their teeth and we might get scratched by their claws but it is playing nonetheless.
There has never, as far as I’m aware, been any evidence or indication that a domestic cat has tried to eat his owner! It is laughable to consider it. And therefore, although I know comic wags are having some fun when they speculate that a large domestic cat might try and eat his owner, I think it is misleading and for me a slightly derogatory supposition because it gives the impression that domestic cats are inherently aggressive towards their owners and dangerous. We know that this is not the case.
We can also make a comparison with so-called “lion whisperers”. These men live with lions and they become part of the lion’s pride. Lions see them as a member of the pride. Under these circumstances the man is protected from being attacked. The domestic cat’s relationship with his or her human companion is somewhat similar. Perhaps in scientific jargon we might be described as “associates” or friends of our domestic cats. This prevents an aggressive attack.
The interesting thought, however, is that if in those households where the cat owner has become hostile towards his cat and where the relationship has wholly broken down then if the domestic cat was as large as a lion I suppose that it is conceivable that the owner could be attacked and eaten by his pet.
If you have the patience and commitment to read the study, you can do so by clicking on the link below. For me is pure waffle and says nothing new whatsoever. It is hard to read too.