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  #1  
Old 08-29-2009, 03:44 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Could a giant cat like a lion be kept as a pet by giant humans?

Say there was a man who was exactly like any other, except twice the size. His house would be twice the size of a typical house; his roof twice as high; his car twice as large; everything that he owned would be scaled up to his size.

Could this man keep a lion inside his home the way you or I would keep a housecat? If there was a giant litter-box (normal by his standard) would the lion use it the way a housecat uses a normal litterbox? If there was a kind of dry cat food that came in larger chunks that the lion prefer, would he eat it? I mean, obviously a normal cat would prefer real meat, but he's content to eat dry cat food if that's the only thing available.

Would the lion behave inside the home? Would it be kind to its owner?

The reason I wonder is because I figure the only reason why our housecats don't attack us is because they know that we're too large for them to kill. They are, by nature, vicious predators, but they can easily live inside a home if they are raised from birth. So, similarly, could this hypothetical lion be like a housecat for its hypothetical and giant-sized owner?
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2009, 04:03 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Let's put it another way - if we were scaled down to the size of a hungry house cat, how long do you think we would last?

The human would have to be a great deal larger and more threatening in appearance to put a lion or a tiger off.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2009, 04:10 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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OK, let's say the human is three times the size of a normal human. Or however large a human would need to be so that a lion would be about the size of a (large) housecat.
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  #4  
Old 08-29-2009, 04:32 AM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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the Lion would still not make a good pet until its ancestors have gone though several dozen (or more) generations of domestication. There's probably nothing (except the cost and the protests that it would cause) to stop normal sized humans from breeding Lions specifically to domestic them.

Bulls are the same size or bigger than Lions and their wild ancestors (the aurochs) was feared as a vicious animal, but their ancestors are easily kept by people who the bull could in theory rend to pieces if it wanted to.

Last edited by coremelt; 08-29-2009 at 04:36 AM..
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  #5  
Old 08-29-2009, 06:44 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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Lions are social animals, so their behavior would, I would think, be very different from the housecat, which comes from solitary stock. Prides have hierarchies. With a few thousand generations of domestication, lions might make better pets than cats because they could see the family as a pride, so there is some social instinct to manipulate.

I also find this much easier to think about if I imagine miniature lions, the size of large housecats.
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  #6  
Old 08-29-2009, 06:46 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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Double post. Sorry.

Last edited by Manda JO; 08-29-2009 at 06:46 AM..
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  #7  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:08 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Lions are social animals, so their behavior would, I would think, be very different from the housecat, which comes from solitary stock. Prides have hierarchies. With a few thousand generations of domestication, lions might make better pets than cats because they could see the family as a pride, so there is some social instinct to manipulate.

I also find this much easier to think about if I imagine miniature lions, the size of large housecats.
Would it be the same as dogs thinking of the family as their pack, and the humans as the alpha dogs?
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  #8  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:22 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Well assuming an average human male of 6 feet in height, and 200 lbs I'm not entirely certain that doubling the size would do it. We have very large people in the seven to eight foot range who weigh in at around 400 lbs; so I would imagine that a 12 foot human would probably be quite massive to support his or her own weight. My WAG is probably about 900-1200 lbs, which is only a little larger than the largest of lions. The average in the wild seems to be around the 500 pound mark, though captive specimens have gotten well into the 800 pound range. Given this, a lion would be about the same size as a mastiff type dog to a normal human. Now assuming that your cub was raised from birth around such large people, it is possible that one could domesticate them, but even still I would imagine a deal of collateral damage in the process. Mastiffs were bred UP in size from a smaller domesticated ancestor to perform their jobs and have a special temperament to ensure handler safety. Lions, are already that large and we would be working from scratch. A better bet would be a mountain lion or a leopard who don't get so large in weight.

Gigantopithecus, the largest known type of ape, is estimated to have stood 9 and a bit feet in height and possibly as much as 1200 lbs. I don't think we can get much larger while maintaining our current style of locomotion. There is serious debate as to whether this animal walked on two legs. I think that a triple sized person is probably out of the question.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 08-29-2009 at 07:26 AM..
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  #9  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:38 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Shrink the lion down to house cat size then. The lion would still be a rotten pet. Think of having a vicious feral cat locked in your house with you, and shredding your shin to the bone every encounter.
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  #10  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:45 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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I'm talking about raising the lion from birth. If the son or daughter of a feral cat were captured when born and then hand-raised in a home, would it not turn out more or less the same as a normal house-cat?

And does a normal house-cat not behave more or less like a lion, just a tiny version of one? I mean, it still viciously attacks anything that it can kill, such as mice, birds, rabbits and any other potential prey. It can still viciously maul you if you piss it off. If not neutered, it will still mark its territory with urine. Is the behavior of a typical house cat really that different from that of a wildcat?
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  #11  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:55 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
I'm talking about raising the lion from birth. If the son or daughter of a feral cat were captured when born and then hand-raised in a home, would it not turn out more or less the same as a normal house-cat?

And does a normal house-cat not behave more or less like a lion, just a tiny version of one? I mean, it still viciously attacks anything that it can kill, such as mice, birds, rabbits and any other potential prey. It can still viciously maul you if you piss it off. If not neutered, it will still mark its territory with urine. Is the behavior of a typical house cat really that different from that of a wildcat?
Feral cats are the descendants of domesticated cats that were lost or abandoned: all the instincts we've bred for over the years are still there, so a kitten raised in the home is more or less the same as any kitten. Lions, though, are more like wolves than feral housecats.

There is a huge difference between "domesticated" (bred for generations for instincts that work well with humans) and "tamed" (raised by humans with natural, anti-social instincts repressed or conditioned away). Tamed animals can be kept, but they aren't really ever pet-like.
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  #12  
Old 08-29-2009, 07:58 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Well presumably a human twice or three times bigger than a normal human would have much more strength and thicker skin to resist bites/attacks. I think good questions for this situation would be, just how thick of skin would a human need such that bites from a lion would be equivalent to bites to a cat? And at what size would a human need to be before a lion realizes "I probably shouldn't even try to attack this thing."

For example, most housecats know they can take on a rat but most don't try and take on a human (which is probably in part due to domestication, but keep in mind that they don't share the same respect for humans that dogs do). I just wonder what size a human would need to be before a lion essentially does the same.
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  #13  
Old 08-29-2009, 08:03 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Is it really a pet if you have to worry if your large enough to be around it? A child is not likely to be killed by a house cat.
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  #14  
Old 08-29-2009, 08:25 AM
Xema Xema is offline
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Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
I would imagine that a 12 foot human would probably be quite massive to support his or her own weight. My WAG is probably about 900-1200 lbs.
With the same proportions, a 12-foot human would have a weight 8 times that of a 6-footer. This would be structurally unsound - e.g. bones would not be able to deal with the normal stresses of running, jumping, etc.
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  #15  
Old 08-29-2009, 08:35 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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With the same proportions, a 12-foot human would have a weight 8 times that of a 6-footer. This would be structurally unsound - e.g. bones would not be able to deal with the normal stresses of running, jumping, etc.
That's what I thought. So far, I've been able to find a few people in the eight foot range, all of whom seem to weigh around 500 lbs. That places them at the same range as your regular wild african lion. Want to take a stab at what an actual 12 foot human might weigh?
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  #16  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:00 AM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Is it really a pet if you have to worry if your large enough to be around it? A child is not likely to be killed by a house cat.
That's a good point. Cats generally attack and kill animals much smaller than them - mice, small birds, etc. I think lions in that sense would be more like dogs, which are used to hunting in packs and killing things the same size as them or bigger. Dogs are more can easily be dangerous to children (and adults!) unless they've been thoroughly domesticated and well trained, and it seems logical that lions would be the same.
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  #17  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:10 AM
blood63 blood63 is offline
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My super friendly housecat just took a nip at me while I was brushing him. Even the most domesticated animal can get annoyed. I hate for that to have been a lion. I would have lost my arm.
Cats have been domesticated for thousands of years but you can't breed the wild instincts out it. A lion could never become the cuddly toy you want it to be unless it was a robot.
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  #18  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:18 AM
blood63 blood63 is offline
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Sorry, I missed the giant human part. In that case, lions would need to be domesticated.
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  #19  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:34 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Relevant or of interest:
Domesticating the wild fox

Note that they require generations of breeding for the properties desirable for a pet.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 08-29-2009 at 09:34 AM..
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  #20  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:35 AM
Jettboy Jettboy is offline
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Sure, why not?

Any reliabale behaviorist will tell you that a housecat and a lion/tiger/leopard are pretty much the same animal; the only real difference is size. Unlike dogs, which have been domesticated for 10-15,000 years, cats have only been our buddies for 3-4,000 years.
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  #21  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:37 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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The GF and I were watching a program the other day about lions on ABC. This trainer had raised and worked with this pride of lions since their birth and was keeping them on reserve somewhere. Their behavior was similar to what you would see in a large 300 lb housecat. They would playfully pounce on the trainer and he would be wretling around with them and whatnot. The dude was regular person size.

I'm sure you can read all about it in his what will most likely be unfinished biography.

Last edited by msmith537; 08-29-2009 at 09:38 AM..
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  #22  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:45 AM
Jettboy Jettboy is offline
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
...had raised and worked with this pride of lions since their birth and was keeping them on reserve somewhere. Their behavior was similar to what you would see in a large 300 lb housecat.
'Zactly. I used to know some wealthy, decadant country weirdos (I mentioned them in a thread waaay back when http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=501143) who kept a puma as a pet. They had found her as a cub on a hunting trip and adopted her. She behaved just like any other housecat; the only difference was that óeven with claws removed and teeth kept filed by a vetó if big kitty wanted to playfully swat at you she might knock your ass across the room.
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  #23  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:53 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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That's what I would be scared of. I often see lions playing with each other but the difference is they're used to playing rather roughly with each other, to the point where it could seriously injure a normal human being... But a giant human being might be able to take it.
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  #24  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:59 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Born free! As free as the wind blows!

The most famous semi-tamed lioness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsa_the_Lioness

For those who don't follow the link, an orphaned lion-cub was hand raised and treated like a pet. She was eventually released into the wild. There's a movie about it.

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 08-29-2009 at 10:01 AM..
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  #25  
Old 08-30-2009, 12:07 AM
The Scrivener The Scrivener is offline
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Lionnesses, hunting cooperatively, are used to going after game that's much larger and heavier than they are. Water buffalo, for ex. Thus even if you were 8 ft. tall and weighed half a ton, they might see you as simply an upright ungulate or somesuch, to be measured up for the fateful lunge to the neck.

I'm thinking you'd need to be like the 50-ft. woman to intimidate wild lions on the basis of size (and keep your neck and lower abdomen safely out of reach).
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  #26  
Old 08-30-2009, 12:24 AM
TWDuke TWDuke is offline
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Originally Posted by Jettboy View Post
Unlike dogs, which have been domesticated for 10-15,000 years, cats have only been our buddies for 3-4,000 years.
That's "only" several thousand cat generations.

Forget about lions, there are several species of wildcats comparable in size to a domestic house cat. I wouldn't recommend taking one of them into your home.

ETA: Actually, domestication of cats is now thought to have begun much earlier.

Last edited by TWDuke; 08-30-2009 at 12:28 AM..
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  #27  
Old 08-30-2009, 12:27 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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I've read about people keeping servals, caracals and fishing-cats as house pets. So obviously it's possible to do. What exactly separates those wild cats from lions and tigers, in terms of their instincts?
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  #28  
Old 08-30-2009, 03:50 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Cheetahs can also, I've read, be pretty easily domesticated. But they're not at the top of the African foodchain; lions are.
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  #29  
Old 08-30-2009, 05:37 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Cheetahs can also, I've read, be pretty easily domesticated. But they're not at the top of the African foodchain; lions are.
Yeah, cheetahs are supposed to make pretty good pets even for normal sized people. They aren't that aggressive but watch out when they try to chase a car going down the highway. They will catch it. There are way, way more people in the U.S. that have large cats as pets than most people realize. You can buy them online and some, like tigers, aren't even very expensive at all and you can probably adopt one for free because it costs a lot to feed them. They can be fine until they get in a pissy mood. I played with a pet mountain lion once. It made me a little nervous just because of its teeth and strength but it was only about as evil as any house cat (and probably much less because of a lack of Napoleonic Syndrome).
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  #30  
Old 08-31-2009, 11:59 AM
TWDuke TWDuke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
I've read about people keeping servals, caracals and fishing-cats as house pets. So obviously it's possible to do. What exactly separates those wild cats from lions and tigers, in terms of their instincts?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Could this man keep a lion inside his home the way you or I would keep a housecat? If there was a giant litter-box (normal by his standard) would the lion use it the way a housecat uses a normal litterbox?
This is from a pro-exotic-pet source: "Letís make one thing perfectly clear: exotic cats donít come litterbox trained! In fact, they often go to the bathroom in ďunauthorized locationsĒ even once they are trained. One womanís pet serval sprays her in the face! While training can be quite successful, if you canít live with the possibility that this animal may soil your house or donít have time to devote to litterbox training, your decision should probably be to avoid owning an exotic feline... Male servals mark their territory up to 46 times per hour, and females mark about half as frequently. ... spaying or neutering your cat only reduces the chances of spraying; many felines altered at a young age including mine spray or are unreliable in using the litterbox."
Quote:
Would the lion behave inside the home? Would it be kind to its owner?
From an exotic-animal vet: "Although a serval wouldn't attack an adult human, it shouldn't be left alone with other pets or a human toddler, says Melinda Surrency, an exotic-pet veterinarian at Southwest Animal Hospital in Beaverton. "Although servals aren't that much bigger than a big house cat, they are much stronger. They have more of a wild instinct and are harder to manage."

Note these are from sources you might expect to put a positive or neutral spin on exotic-cat ownership. If you look at sanctuary and animal-welfare sites, you can find much stronger language.
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  #31  
Old 08-31-2009, 03:40 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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That's what I would be scared of. I often see lions playing with each other but the difference is they're used to playing rather roughly with each other, to the point where it could seriously injure a normal human being... But a giant human being might be able to take it.
Right. You know how regular house cats think it's the most hillarious thing in the world to jump out at you and bite your ankle? Last summer, a half-grown lion decided to play the same side-splitting joke on me. The results weren't pretty.

As pointed out earlier, lions are a particularly poor comparison to house cats. Lions live in prides; every other cat species is solitary. A better comparison might be lions:: dogs.
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  #32  
Old 08-31-2009, 06:56 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Just some back of the numbers calculations.

An average housecat is about 10 lbs. A lion can be as big as 400 lbs.

So by "giant" human, you might want to be at least 40x your current size. For me, that would be about 8000 lbs or roughly the mass of an elephant. And I'm still not sure that would be big enough.
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