Are dogs or cats more likely to eat you? We’ve all seen the viral videos floating around and the jokes — the allegedly hateful glances from cats that might suggest they’d eat you in your sleep if they could, or the dogs just now realizing that their owner is literally a bag of bones.
Which is more likely to actually take the plunge and try to take a bite?
Most of the reported cases are actually dogs, though there have been some cats too. For the most part, though, it’s canines who are all too tempted to take a bite of their dead owner — sometimes right after they die, and sometimes a few days later.
Don’t get too smug, cat owners, as they’ll also do it though!
Why Would a Dog or Cat Eat Their Owner?
The main question people have is why on earth this is a concern!
Most cases of cats or dogs eating their owners come from being left with a body for a long period of time. An owner may die, leaving their animal without food — and when that animal gets desperate, there’s only one source of nutrition.
Contrary to the jokes floating around, cats don’t eat their owners to be mean. It’s not something most people need to worry about.
There’s also a theory that dogs eat their owners in a panic. The owner collapses, leaving the dog confused, and licking doesn’t wake them up. They panic and begin to bite and as there is no response, the biting becomes more severe. They aren’t deliberately eating their owners, but digesting parts of them is a byproduct of their attempts to wake them up.
If you’ve ever collapsed around your dog just to see what they’ll do (like the TikTok trend going around for a while), you might have noticed how immediately frantic they get. It’s easy to see how this could turn into biting out of sheer desperation.
How Often Do Dogs and Cats Eat Their Owners?
It doesn’t happen very often at all. There needs to be a pretty specific set of circumstances for this to happen — either a very frantic dog that’s been prone to biting in the past or a body left so long that the cats and dogs had no other nutrition.
How Long After I Die Would They Eat Me?
Honestly, it very much depends. If your dog is biting you frantically because they’re worried about you, then it could be seconds after you’ve died.
If it’s because of a lack of food and out of desperation, it will likely take a few days. Dogs can survive for up to five days or more without food and cats can go as long as two weeks, as long as they all have access to water. Once a few days have passed, if your pet is still stuck in the house with your body then yes, they may start to nibble.
How Do I Prevent This From Happening?
Ultimately, there’s no way to ensure something won’t happen once you’ve passed! However, making arrangements for your pets if you die is the best possible way to ensure this is never your reality. If you live alone, make sure someone is checking in on you frequently, even if it’s just a neighbor that says hello on occasion. It also helps to make sure there are places for your pet to go, even if it’s just a rescue you donate to frequently.
There’s also a misconception that a dog or cat might eat you when you die if you don’t treat them well, but animals aren’t this calculated. This shouldn’t, however, be an excuse to mistreat your cat — just a reassurance that stepping on Fluffy’s tail once won’t mean he’s planning to eat you the next time you pass out in bed.
Dogs are the ones that tend to eat their owners most, and dogs are infinitely loyal creatures. Animals don’t experience spite, and your dog still loves you. When dogs are in this situation, it’s usually a simple case of them not quite understanding the gravity of what they’re doing.
What Is the Most Famous Case of This?
The morbidly curious might be wondering about the most famous cases of dogs or cats eating their owners. There are a few but perhaps the most notable in 2007 is the Chow and Labrador mix who survived for a month by consuming their owner — all that was left was shards of bone and the top of the skull.
Waste not, want not?
If this is a real fear you have and a true factor in influencing which kind of pet you get, then you’re better off with a cat! There are fewer cases of a cat eating its owner than a dog, despite the perception that dogs truly love their owners and cats see them as food dispensers.
However, if you have either animal, there’s a real chance this might happen if your body was left alone with them for a long time. There have even been reports of hamsters doing this. Unfortunately, animals in general just don’t realize how taboo eating your dead owner’s body actually is, and no one has found a way to explain it to them… just in case.
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