Lion and tiger can regard humans as dominant which is why staring into their eyes can stop an attack

Lion and tigers, the two biggest cats have the ability to regard humans as dominant if humans stare into their eyes when under attack by either. If a human stares like this is signals dominance and the cat is taken in by it as it seems they have the ability to perceive us as dominant. In this way the cat might end the attack. Are you brave enough to try it and is it 100% guaranteed to work. No probably answers both questions. Tigers in Nepal are active at night to avoid humans supporting the human status in the relationship.

Dominant stare to prevent a tiger or lion attack
Dominant stare to prevent a tiger or lion attack. Image: MikeB.
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RELATED: Mountain lion attack – on people and prey animals

A great cat authority Paul Leyhausen, a German zoologist and ethologist, carried out a simple test to prove this at a zoo. He stood outside a tiger’s cage. He hid his eyes with a camera which also allowed him to see the tiger through the lens (SLR camera). The tiger crouched ready to attack and charged across the cage towards him. He lowered his camera when the tiger was close to him and stared into the tiger’s eyes. It skidded to a halt immediately and looked away to avoid his gaze. The tiger acted as if it was subordinate to Leyhausen.

It is called the ‘cut-off’. It occurs between two feral cats fighting over territory. Initially there is a status battle. The dominant cat fixes their stare at his rival. The subordinate cat looks away from its enemy and makes sure they don’t look at their glaring victor. This signals subordination and prevents a fight.

Humans do the same thing in boxing fights. You see it when two boxers are at a weigh-in. They look at each other at close range directly into the eyes. The aim: to not seem subordinate as to do so would give the other boxer a big advantage in the ring.

It is argued that the stare down technique should be used when confronted by a mountain lion while trekking in America. Don’t turn and run as you become a subordinate prey animal to be chased.

Resolutely stand your ground and stare at the puma. It will tell the mountain lion that you are not subordinate which might see off the mountain as he/she becomes subordinate if they perceive humans as potentially dominant.

Mountain lion attack – on people and prey animals

Someone asked: why does my cat sulk when I scold him?

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