KEY POINTS

  • Cats eat human corpses in a body farm
  • Cats like bodies in their early stages of decomposition
  • Researchers will continue to record cat scavenging patterns

Two cases of feral cats breaking into a body farm to eat decomposing human bodies were recorded on camera. The body farm at the Forensic Investigation Research Station in Whitewater, Colorado witnessed the feral cats getting into the facility to consume the human corpses.

Something like this is not unimaginable as pet cats stuck in a house with a dead owner have consumed human flesh because of hunger. The paper published in the Journal of Forensic Science states that cats usually hunt to eat and rarely scavenge.

“Due to the prevalence of feral cats throughout the United States and the world, understanding the patterns and behaviours of these scavengers can assist in distinguishing between perimortem and postmortem tissue damage,” the researchers mentioned in the paper via Science Alert.

There are several body farms in the U.S. established to research and study the decomposition of a human body that helps in archaeology, police investigation and anthropology. The human bodies in these farms are protected by a fence from big scavengers. Meanwhile, donor bodies are kept face upwards and unclothed and checked for decomposition on a weekly basis.

The activity of small scavengers is regularly monitored using infrared cameras. The team confirmed that bobcats were recorded scavenging human corpses at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility.

However, the team has stated in the study that bodies of a man and woman who were dead for two weeks at the ages of 70 and 79 respectively, were consumed by cats. 

The cats preferred bodies that were in their early stages of decomposition. “Scavenging began when the bodies showed early signs of decomposition and ended at the onset of moist decomposition,” the researchers wrote.

The authors also mentioned that the pattern of consumption matched that of bobcats that go for hips, arms, and thighs. They stated that only two cases cannot hypothesize the behavior of all feral cats. However, the scavenging behavior of different animals will help in forensic analysis.

cats A cat is judged in the "Longhair Pedigree Pet Imperial Grand Master Cat" class at the 42nd "Supreme Cat Show" organised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and held in the NEC, Birmingham, central England, Oct. 27, 2018. Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images