An investigation concluded that a tiger handler, David Styles, when presenting a show in an arena in zoo in Queensland, Australia, overstimulated the 120 kg tiger he was with. He was being filmed by the BBC at the time.
The handler made himself look different which caught the interest of the tiger. The tiger pushed him into the water where he bit the guy on the neck and nearly killed him. He was severely injured but survived and returned to work months later.
Mr Styles suffered near fatal injuries:
- crushed carotid artery
- nicked jugular
- paralysis to the left larynx
- nerve damage
The interesting aspect of this for me is that the same rules apply to domestic cats. When playing with your cat it is not sensible to overstimulate as play can turn to genuine aggression. Cat bites sometimes need medical treatment and can be serious. In my humble opinion all cat bites are the fault of the person who has been bitten.
Also making yourself look different can cause a domestic cat to be uncertain about you. That slight uncertainty added to over stimulating could lead to aggression even if your cat knows you well and is a perfectly behaved cat.
I suppose the point I am making is that tigers are just like domestic cats in terms of fundamental behaviors.