If Domestic Cats Were Bigger They Might Try and Kill Us. Therefore Size Matters

Anybody who reads about cats on the Internet could not fail to have noticed that almost every news outlet is discussing research carried out by the University of Edinburgh which confirms what we generally already know namely that the domestic cat is very similar in character and personality to wild cat species. And because the characters are very similar, it is argued that if the domestic cat were as large as a big wild cat then he/she would quite possibly want to kill his caretaker and eat her for lunch. I get the point. I resisted commenting on this because it seemed to be a lot of fanciful nonsense and nothing new but have now succumbed.

tiger at bottom of bed
Tiger at the bottom of bed!
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Most of the online articles ignore the simple fact that the domestic cat has been domesticated for 10,000 years and this must count for something. In other words, no wild cat species living in the wild has been domesticated like the domestic cat and therefore we cannot say that the character of the domestic cat is similar to the character of a wild cat species such as the lion. Domestication must modify character even if the underlying personality traits are similar between domestic and wild cat.

However, that said, it should make us focus on the fact that size matters. The difference in size between the human and the domestic cat is quite substantial. Size does matter when it comes to character traits related to wild cat species. The bigger the better obviously, all things being equal. If the argument is correct that the domestic cat would eat us if he was a lot bigger, the fact that the domestic cat is small is crucial. And this cuts both ways.

We should be observant of the fact that being much bigger than a domestic cat, the domestic cat might on occasion quite possibly feel uneasy in our presence, under certain circumstances. A domestic cat can become anxious in a household with humans who are behaving in a manner which creates an environment which is not conducive to calm or which does not allow a domestic cat to expresses natural instincts.

I’ve stated it before, the domestic cat lives in a land of giants and we are the giants. We need to keep that in mind in our interactions with the domestic cat.

For the record the domestic cat shares this traits with lions according to the study: neuroticism, impulsiveness, and dominance.

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3 thoughts on “If Domestic Cats Were Bigger They Might Try and Kill Us. Therefore Size Matters”

  1. ” the character of the domestic cat is similar to the character of a wild cat species such as the lion.”

    Maybe not, but if you watch any of the videos of our cat’s small wildcat relatives e.g. African (Near Eastern) wildcat from which our cats originated, South African, European, and Scottish wildcats, you’ll see many similarities. In fact, I challenge you to watch videos of any of these cats on you tube and tell that you’d be able to tell the difference between them and our domestic tabbies.

    Our cat is very close genetically to the wildcat (i.e. wild subspecies of felis sylvestris). They interbreed freely in nature with the domestic cat and produce fertile offspring. It’s estimated that some 200000 ferals in Scottland are hybrids. Probably some of the wildcats have domestic blood as well depending on if it’s the father who mated with domestic feral or the mother. In terms of personality, while European and Scottish wildcats are very difficult to tame, African varieties are friendlier to humans.

    If you compare dogs to wolves, they are father genetically. Also, their habits aren’t as similar.
    So no, I don’t think it’s “speceism”, since biologically and behaviorally cats are much closer to their wild relatives than dogs. One other thing you need to remember in addition to the years cats were domesticated is that unlike dogs cats were never asked to do anything than catch mice, and up until maybe 100 years ago or so, they were mostly mousers in a barn.

    In terms of trying to kill us – I don’t think any cat will consciously try to kill us, but then a tame tiger doesn’t really attack either. But how many times many of us got scratched? Some cats are more aggressive than others, but even the friendliest sweetest cat can scratch you by accident in play. Imagine if the claws were three times the size. Imagine a house cat the size of a German Shepherd, would you really feel very safe?

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  2. If the animal behaviorists (or whoever does these quick studies) can’t agree that by now (30+ years of pits as pets, whose lineage was never bred to be pets), it’s painfully apparent that the bully species of dog (6% of the dog population) is more dangerous than all other dogs combined (94%), then why should we care about what they hypothesize about domestic cats if this or if that, which will never happen? Very little real study has been done on cats, especially compared to dogs, too. It’s speciesism on both species. And they’re messing with our heads. (Sorry about the long sentence.)

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    • Yes, Albert, you make a nice point which I could have added to my article. It is speciesism. Is also online newspapers enjoying publishing sensationalising articles about the domestic cat and so-called scientists coming up with rather silly ideas and conclusions some of which are biased.

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