The seven dogs of a Canadian couple who passed away in their remote Saskatchewan home provided food for them for more than a week. So, is it true that a dog would rather starve than disprove the proverb that a cat will happily eat its deceased owner?
Yes. There is no proof that dogs treat their owners any differently than they would any other dead body, and they are quite willing to eat human carcasses. Dogs are viewed as filthy in many cultures exactly because they like to scavenge human leftovers. Homer mentions dogs eating corpses nine times in The Iliad. Jezebel, an Old Testament princess, was defenestrated, and after her death, dogs ate her body. Because the body may be torn apart by dogs, there is evidence that ancient Romans thought the low-hanging cross to be a crueler kind of crucifixion than the high one. Some secular historians even contend that Jesus’ corpse was consumed by dogs and that his disciples made up the tale of his reverent burial as a coping strategy. Some Muslim groups in East Africa despise dogs because they think they ate the Prophet Muhammad’s body. Modern dogs behave in the same way, and many of them have consumed their deceased masters. Dogs scavenging family members have been the subject of several news stories, and additional incidents go unreported to the media. (Cat lovers: don’t be arrogant. Your cat pals aren’t much better.)
Dogs that consume the remains of their owners are simply carrying out their evolutionary task. Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, proto-dogs scavenged around the peripheries of human communities, eliminating food leftovers, feces, and other human waste. According to legend, humans discovered this was really helpful and allowed the least violent puppies to remain. These canine garbage-compactors probably treated corpses just like any other trash item. Nothing has changed for their offspring.
Some dogs start digging before their masters have even passed away. There are numerous cases of dogs consuming family members’ injured toes. Diabetes frequently affects the victims, making their feet numb, rendering them unable to feel the dog biting at them. Studies on epidemiology also call into question the idea that Fido would never betray us. Every day, more than 900 people in the United States visit emergency rooms due to dog bites, and more than half of those incidents take place at homes.
Finally, it’s significant that there were seven man-eating dogs rather than just one pet inside the Saskatchewan residence. Dogs tend to be more aggressive in packs (PDF), with more timid ones joining in after their more aggressive companions attack people, according to behaviorists.
Why do dogs consume people?
Every year, events of this nature occur all across the world. Someone dies naturally (or intentionally) somewhere in the world every year, his face or head is nowhere to be discovered, a German shepherd is nearby, and there is a ton of uneaten dog food.
I absolutely have a fear of my best friend chomping off my greatest feature because I have a big dog, live alone, and tend to be a downer. German shepherds aren’t all that different from wolves in terms of evolution, yet the same people who panic when they’re grabbed by a jerk on the metro also bring these toothy animals into their homes and have to train them not to poop where they eat and not to eat their own poop. These dogs eating our lifeless faces anytime they have the chance is not at all shocking.
Just ask the 78-year-old Austrian woman who was discovered in 2002 with her German shepherd missing her face, the 66-year-old Moscow man whose German shepherd consumed the majority of him over the course of two weeks in 2008, or the 80-year-old German shepherd owners whose horrifying remains were found in 2006. You might also ask the Canadian couple who were devoured in 2011 by their two mutts, five Shetland sheepdogs, and one pug, or the German shepherd whose apparent favorite food was the head of his Spanish owner from this year.
I made a call to Claas Buschmann, a forensic pathologist in Berlin and one of the authors of the German study, to ask him for advice on how to defend myself against the stench-eating son of a bitch I keep in my home.
Where do dogs that eat faces fit into the picture? They appear to be many.
One year, we had one or two cases during our usual autopsies, and since the findings were extraordinary, we decided to publish them. Our paper is more of a case report than a study. Although full decapitation is uncommon, postmortem animal depravation is a frequent occurrence in forensic autopsies. Because Germany has a relatively low overall autopsy frequency, it is difficult to estimate the entire number. Only 6% of people who pass away have autopsies performed.
Should there be a PSA for elderly people and drug addicts that says something clever like, “Ditch the dog and get a fish if you plan to drop dead in your apartment?”
Drugs are to be avoided, not dogs. Try not to pass out in your apartment. But if you do, make sure someone will notice that you are gone and call for assistance or that you are not alone. If you are not in the water, a fish won’t care for you. It’s commonplace for fish to consume individuals who have drowned. Because their dogs barked, some [dead] persons were discovered.
Your story claimed that when the subjects were discovered, food was around. Why would they choose to consume human flesh?
As a type of animal instinct, the dogs start biting and eating. They come and lick the exposed portions to wake you up after determining that you are dead based on your stench and lack of reaction. If you are already dead and there is no response, they turn to biting, which is the next stage up from licking. Just that. It is not a hunger issue. It’s just typical animal behavior, really. Do not forget that although some people attempt to humanize dogs, we are talking about animals. All of them are descended from wolves.
But not for this reason, I don’t have a dog and never will. I have a dog hair allergy.
Instead of waiting until we are dead to bite our faces, perhaps we might teach dogs to call 911?
As I previously stated, some persons were discovered thanks to their pets. Consider the many ways in which dogs assist the blind. I’m not sure, but perhaps there are such trainings. We only witness the untrained examples, if you get what I mean.
I’ve been known to put my hand in my dog’s mouth when he yawns. Does that make it more likely that I’ll get hurt?
Will my dog devour my child?
You shouldn’t have to worry about your dog eating her puppies if she is mature, healthy, and otherwise well-behaved. It’s an uncommon behavior with usually obvious underlying explanations.
It is regrettable, but canine cannibalism does occur. Thankfully, you won’t likely encounter it, and if you do, there are steps you can take to ensure that it never occurs again.
If you passed away, would your cat devour you?
It can be difficult to know how to adapt the research on feral cats to domestic cats, which don’t frequently spend much time, if any, in the outdoors.
Delgado claims that because domestic cats and wild cats belong to the same species, we may apply similar findings to them.
Although wild cats are accustomed to hunting and gathering their own food, he claims that their nutritional requirements are essentially the same.
There is no reason to believe that a starving cat would refuse to consume any available meat, even if it was human flesh, according to Delgado.
In the end, Melissa Connor, director of the Forensic Investigation Station at Colorado Mesa University and a co-author of the 2020 study on feral cats, concurs with Delgado.
According to Connor, “domestic and feral cats certainly appear to have different foraging behaviors. These distinct eating patterns, though, are not the result of domestic cats developing relationships with people. The behaviors, on the other hand, are related to the “state of the body at the time of scavenging or the cat’s experience” with complete animal carcasses.
So it stands to reason that a domestic cat that spends a lot of time hunting outside might behave similarly to feral cats in terms of eating animal and human remains. But in the end, Connor said, both domestic and wild animals would consume people given the correct conditions.
Domestic cats and dogs will scavenge dead people, especially if they are confined to a home or apartment and have no other access to food or water.
However, Spano isn’t really certain. She contends that socialization behaviors and genetic makeup distinguish domestic cats from feral cats.
House cats naturally exhibit predatory characteristics that are “programmed within their genome,” just like any other animal. According to Spano, these actions include stalking, hunting, chasing, biting, and even murdering. Environments, however, can affect how these behaviors are responded to.
According to Spano, the environment of a cozy home, where your normal house cat has been domesticated for many generations, differs from the habitat of the wild.
She contends that it is improbable that house cats will hunt and consume humans given the strong social relationships that have developed between them over the course of many years of development. The hunt is the main focus.
According to Spano, “Your ordinary home cat’s predation of its human neighbors is not truly vital for existence and therefore relatively infrequent.
But after you pass away, it might be a very other game. It’s difficult to predict with certainty whether or not a cat will consume a dead body because it depends on the situation.
In other words, treat your cat well in life and pray that she will treat you well in death.
According to Spano, the majority of domesticated cats realistically won’t prey on their adult human parents.
Your modern domestic cat is descended from carnivorous forebears who lived thousands of years ago.
If I died, would my pet devour me?
Dogs typically don’t devour their dead prey right away. However, every rule has an exception. In contrast to wild animals, domestic dogs typically require a “waiting period” before they begin tormenting your body.
How long before a dog eats you?
Urbane Dog trainer Dawn Manker: A client of mine truly experienced this when they saved a dog that had eaten their owner. They have serious resource issues because it is evident that the dog lived for a very long time. I believe it was a week before the owner was actually touched. Then they understood that the dog eventually went to its owner for protection, and it did so for a longer period of time.
Therefore, when the dog runs out of resources is the genuine answer. Before something becomes a possibility, it relies on where they are and the resources they have accessible. You’d be astonished to learn that they can enter toilet bowls and trash cans.
forensic anthropologist Carolyn Rando Pets’ post-mortem feeding schedules do differ considerably. Additionally, it depends on whether you mean complete body consumption or simply a few bites. After death, it can happen rather fast, particularly if the animal gets anxious. In this situation, the dog might lick or bite the owner in an attempt to find comfort, which could prompt the owner to feed the dog.
In their case study, the dog freaked out when the owner killed himself and went to the dead owner for comfort. There was a lot of blood, and the rest is evident, this research indicates. It’s possible that a large portion of this post-mortem “feeding” is just animals seeking solace from their loved ones. In contrast to the typical “animal scavenging we see outside, quite a few of the marks made appear to be on the face.
Animal behavior expert Julie Hecht: The licking and biting notion of how dogs end up eating a deceased owner is something that I have also heard. I’d want to add that it’s unknown whether dogs who lick are doing so to “assist their owners.” Dogs lick for many different causes in many different situations. For instance, licking someone’s face in the morning, after they get out of the shower, or after they return from a run. It’s noteworthy that the individual’s senses of taste and smell may vary depending on the situation. Dogs might lick a deceased person to learn more about them and their changing condition because the same can be stated about their smell and taste.
It’s difficult to predict how quickly food will be consumed because I would need to take into account the dog’s weight, hunger, and access to food within the home. I suppose they’d prefer that than their deceased owner, but who knows. It’s important to take into account the house’s temperature as well as the rate of decomposition.
Sam, an EMT I’ve never entered a room to find a dead body and dogs there. I’ve witnessed a few cardiac arrests in dogs who were panicking, but we just moved the animal to another room or outside. When you don’t know the dog or how it responds to other people, it can be difficult to determine why the dog is worried. It might just be that the noise is unsettling, but if you’re banging on the owner’s chest, I assume it’s unsettling for them as well.
I know dogs can go a little longer than people without eating, but eventually the body will start to go bad past the point where the dog wants to eat it. If the human meat is still sufficiently fresh, I would assume that five to seven days would be the ideal window to start eating.
Why do cats eat human beings?
You may be concerned that your cat is considering eating you after discovering this. Perhaps this bothersome notion appears when you forget to feed your cat, when you take a nap, or even when you’re a little under the weather. You don’t need to worry about your cat trying to eat you, which is wonderful news.
It’s conceivable that domestic cats might consume their dead owners. But the reason is because they don’t see any distinction between them and another animal carcass. The main motivators are the stench of decay and the desire for food.
When their owners are still alive, domestic cats don’t actively consider eating them. You are not a carcass, thus there is no need to do that. In contrast, you are a living being that:
- loves and feeds the cat while taking care of it
- occupies a position of dominance in the social structure.
- not an animal that hunts naturally
- Even if you were considered a hunter, you are too big to
There wouldn’t be any justification for a cat to view you as prey. Even aggressive cat behavior is a result of fear and territorial instincts in some humans. Since domestic cats don’t hunt, they wouldn’t view us as food.
Will My Cat Eat Me In My Sleep?
You might still be worried that the cat would eat you while you’re fast asleep. What if it thinks you are dead, after all? Fortunately, this is not feasible. Cats are highly skilled olfactory animals. They can even identify illness in their owners before we humans are aware of it, according to anecdotal evidence.
A cat can quickly detect the first signs of decay and recognize when a creature is dead. It won’t believe a current owner is a deceased one. A cat may listen to your breathing as you sleep to feel close to you and ensure your well-being. It is not attempting to detect a potential meal. It’s about making sure you feel good and finding comfort in your presence.
When cats notice that their owners are ill, they do not view them as a food. In fact, owners frequently note that when they are ill, cats spend more time snuggling and purring next to them.
Cats’ purring has the ability to hasten the healing process because of the beneficial endorphins and frequency it emits. To help themselves feel better, cats frequently purr to themselves and around other cats.
If anything, a cat will wake you up in the middle of the night to make sure you’re still alive. It might try to hasten your recovery if it notices that you’re feeling under the weather. It won’t try to eat you when you’re asleep.