Wednesday 5 October 2011

Are wild cats dangerous?

The simple answer is, No..but...Our fear of the big cat promotes incorrect behavior from us that exacerbates the situation. If we interact with the wild cats properly they are not dangerous. If we interact with them incorrectly they are dangerous. I suppose that is common sense.

There are 36 species of wildcat. All but nine of them have a maximum weight of about 50 pounds or 23 kilograms. In short they are not big and several are very small and one is the world's smallest (Rusty-spotted), while some are the size of a domestic cat. These cats just steer clear of people.

Even tigers are not interested in people as prey unless there are extenuating circumstances such as an injury that forces the tiger to attack easy prey, the human and/or the two (us and the tiger) are unnaturally forced together as is the case in the Sundarbans (in Bengal and Bangladesh). It is all about circumstance.

There have been some horrible internet videos and stories of people killing a leopard. Leopards are not that big and don't attack people unless, as for the tiger, they have an injury or physical defect of some sort. Or they might be forced from their normal territory through lack of space. That is our problem.  Many people who share territory with the leopard perform macho acts and grapple with a leopard to impress others. It is all very ignorant and childish.

I know this is not politically correct but it is true. Wild cats might become more dangerous if we molest and annoy them for some reason. It is our duty to understand them and give them a wide birth. Then we can achieve harmony. However this is a pipe dream. See big cat man-eaters for more on this aspect of the danger of wildcats.

In captivity the big cats can be dangerous but normally only if we are foolish or disrespect the cat. There are some horror stories of maiming and killing in zoos and sanctuaries. It is probable that cats in captivity are stressed which makes them more dangerous.

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