It’s a stereotype as old as time: Unlike dogs, cats are sulky, heartless jerks who wouldn’t care if their owners were dead.
But what if there’s some truth to the sentiment?
A few recent studies found that there may be more truth to the “your cat wants you dead” sentiment than cat lovers are willing to admit. So is your feline friend a soft and cuddly companion … or a bloodthirsty predator who would murder you if he had the chance? Read on to find out.
1. Cats are natural predators
Ever hear of a “killer instinct?” Your cat has that.
As members of the predator family, your cat possesses the innate desire to hunt and kill. While domesticated cats may act on these murderous urges less often, the trait is still present in their DNA no matter what their living situation.
Next: Your cat can misbehave like a person.
2. Felines have some unfavorable traits
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted a study comparing domestic house cats with four different wild cats and what they found was somewhat shocking. Both kinds of cats had “inclinations towards dominance, impulsiveness, and neuroticism.” Just like people.
Next: They’re too small to commit murder.
3. Their size is holding them back
Denver psychologist Max Wachtel told USA Today that one of the reasons cats don’t kill their owners is because they can’t.
Cats lack the crushing teeth that dogs have, meaning it’s highly unlikely that they’d be able to successfully kill a full-grown human with their bite. But Bechtel claims that if house cats were bigger, they would probably consider killing you at some point.
Next: It’s all fun and games until something dies.
4. Cats kill for the fun of it
Peter Marra and Chris Santella, co-authors of the book Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer, point out that cats will often kill for the sport of it, not just because they need to eat. “They seem to be stimulated by the chase,” the book notes.
If you’ve ever had your cat “gift” you with a dead rodent or other small mammal, then you know exactly what they’re talking about.
Next: Cats have a lot in common with this large predator.
5. They’re like tiny lions
Cats have plenty in common with all their cousins, from cheetahs to tigers. But of all the big cats, domestic felines have the most in common with lions thanks to their semi-social surroundings.
Next: Their tempers can turn on a dime.
6. They’re completely unpredictable — and moody
Even harmless petting sessions with your feline can turn aggressive in a matter of seconds. If you’ve ever experienced hissing, scratching, biting, or an arched back when you’re just trying to show love to your cat, then you know firsthand how fickle their happy mood really is.
Next: Strays can cause huge problems.
7. Stray cats are an invasive species
Your pet may be fairly harmless, but outdoor cats are a different story. Thanks to their quick and extensive breeding, a stray cat population has the ability to wipe out smaller species such as mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits, and lizards. That may not seem like a big deal … but it can completely change a natural environment, oftentimes negatively.
Next: Bird populations don’t stand a chance.
8. They’re killing all the birds
Just be glad you’re not a bird.
A University of Nebraska Study found that feral cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 bird species around the world, and that cats kill 480 million birds per year.
Next: Cat poop is responsible for the spread of this disease.
9. Cats also carry deadly diseases
Toxoplasmosis is one of the world’s most common parasites and one of the ways it’s transmitted is through cat feces. A toxoplasma infection can cause fevers, extreme fatigue, headaches, and even death for people who have immune system deficiencies.
If the cysts caused by the bacterial infection burst, infected parties can suffer from inflammation of the retina that can lead to glaucoma or eventual blindness.
Next: Never change a litter box while pregnant.
10. Toxoplasmosis is very dangerous if you’re pregnant
Have you ever wondered why pregnant women are advised against changing litter boxes? Toxoplasmosis is the answer.
If you’re very healthy and you contract the disease, you probably won’t be affected by it too much. If you’re pregnant, however, you may need medical intervention to avoid serious birth complications. Infants born to infected mothers can have weakened immune systems among other issues.
Next: Even if you don’t die, toxoplasmosis is no joke.
11. Even if toxoplasmosis doesn’t kill you, you may want to die
Healthy folks may not die from the toxoplasmosis infection spread by cats, but still, that doesn’t mean their lives will be sunshine and roses.
According to the New York Post, people in the latent phase of toxoplasmosis may begin to exhibit signs of mental disorders such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. One European study found that women with toxoplasmosis were twice as likely to commit suicide.
Next: Cats aren’t the happiest creatures.
12. Cats can be so negative
Anxiousness, insecurity, aggression, suspicion, unpredictability… like humans, felines have a number of character traits that are less than desirable.
Researchers found that domestic cats have “the highest loadings on anxious, insecure, and tense, suspicious, and fearful of people.”
Anxious enough to plot murder? Perhaps.
Next: Keep a close eye on your baby if you have a cat.
13. Yes, a cat could kill a baby
Cats are too small to murder adults, but could the family pet kill a baby? The answer is yes.
While the urban legend of cats sucking out baby’s breath has been debunked several times over, the sad reality is that your cat could aaccidentally smother a newborn baby in their sleep. It’s just another reason that you should never leave a sleeping baby unattended, especially with a cat.
Next: Wild animals are still wild.
14. Centuries of domestication can’t change the facts
“They’re cute and furry and cuddly, but we need to remember when we have cats as pets, we are inviting little predators into our house,” Wachtel said. “Cats can be fantastic, sweet companions — until they turn on you.”
Next: Relax — not every cat has murderous intentions.
15. But there’s good news
Researcher Marieke Gartner told CNET that it was “a pretty far stretch” to assume your cat wants to murder you. For one thing, cats understand that their domestication is pretty sweet setup.
“Cats have different personalities, and they ended up living with us because it was a mutually beneficial situation. Some cats are more independent, some are quite loving. It just depends on the individual,” she said.
In other words, your cat may want to keep you around so you’ll keep feeding him. Just make sure you watch your back.