Cats Will Eat Human Remains If They Want a Snack

Researchers recorded two feral cats munching on human remains at a so-called body farm.
Donna Fuscaldo
The photo credit line may appear like thisAdisak Mitrprayoon/iStock

Cats may not be known for eating human flesh but when they are hungry enough, they apparently aren't picky. 

That's according to an experiment conducted by a team of researchers at the Forensic Investigation Research Station in Whitewater, Colorado. 

In a paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the researchers recorded two feral cats that had access to human remains. 


Cameras caught the snacking cats 

The researchers used cameras to film two separate cats climbing over a fence to snack on human corpses. Human corpses are left outside in facilities like that so researchers can learn from the changes to a corpse over time when exposed to the environment. 

According to the researchers the feral cats had a preference for the soft tissue of the shoulder and arm. They also preferred bodies that were in the early stages of decomposition. The two bodies the cats were snacking on were placed in the body farm six days earlier. 

While smaller species are known to snack on dead bodies, it is rare for cats to do the same since they prefer to hunt. 

"This pattern more closely parallels the documented pattern of bobcat (Lynx rufus) scavenging than that of domestic cats. Scavenging among felids is relatively rare, as felids typically prefer to hun," wrote the researchers led by Sara Garcia of the Forensic Investigation Research Station. "Such cases studied in detail are relatively few, spatially relative, and lack statistical robustness. While only two examples are reported here, these cases are rare overall, and this documentation may help field investigators understand the place of feral cats within a local scavenger guild." 

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Body farms have been growing over the last few decades

Over the past twenty years or so, so-called body farms where scientists observe the decomposition of human remains have popped up all over the country.

According to Newsweek, there are seven body farms in the U.S. Texas is home to the largest one. They are protected from scavengers by a fence.