How dangerous would a lion-sized household cat be?

Strange question I was musing:

From a behavior perspective - if the average household pet cat were the size of a full-grown adult lion, would it pose just as dangerous a threat to humans as a lion would?

I understand that many cats, even domesticated cats, will kill for fun, and if the average household cat were many times larger than it is right now - but with the same behavior and instinct as the small household pet cat -it might be able to kill people?

I don’t see any reason why not.

Domestic cats are not as heavily muscled as a lion, so a lion-sized one wouldn’t be quite as strong. However, it would be plenty strong enough to kill a human easily.

I’d sure think so. My cat can scratch you pretty badly when he’s in a bad mood, and if you scaled him up to lion size I’d want him nowhere near me.

I remember a sf novel some years ago about genetically-engineered housecats given human-level intelligence. The author wrote that “they unexpectedly held longterm grudges against people, and developed an almost supernatural ability to hide.”

Hmm, would it want to hurt us the same way it would want to hurt a mouse? (Although a human to a lion is a much bigger size ratio than a mouse to a pet cat, IIRC.)

Some people argue that common cats are not any more domesticated than their larger cousins. They can’t be truly trained for much except to use a litter box (larger cats can too) and they are prone to unexpected and violent behavior. I can’t say that I disagree with them after owning many cats.

Plenty of people have pet tigers. They are surprisingly cheap to buy and legal in some states. There are supposedly more pet tigers in Texas than there are in the wild. It is a terrible and extremely expensive idea in the long-run but most of them never attack anyone. Pet lions are less common but some people have those too and a few people work with them completely unprotected. Cheetahs are fairly docile towards people and have been kept as pets for thousands of years.

I don’t see any real difference between house cats and lions or tigers other than their size as long as they are well fed and have become habituated towards people. As a matter of fact, a house cat the size of a lion or tiger would probably be much more dangerous. I have had them go psycho and attack me suddenly for no reason so many times that I have lost track. That isn’t so bad when you can just pick it up and throw it across the room when it lands on your face but it is really bad news when it weighs many times more than you do.

Here is a video of people playing with some of the biggest cats in the world including lions, tigers and ligers (the biggest cat hybrid in the world). I have met lots of house cats that I trust a lot less than any of those.

Dogs are also descended from predatory carnivores, and several dog breeds average over 250 pounds, yet remain perfectly docile around human beings. Lions weigh about double that, but here is no reason to think that a a large breed of cat could not be characteristically as harmless as a Great Dane, a Mastiff or a Newfoundland. While a 250-pound dog could easily kill human, those who do weigh that much have been bred to have a gentle disposition. Domesticated breeds of dogs only a quarter of that weight regularly kill humans, so the tendency to do so depends on how the breed’s characteristics were selected.

But I doubt that you could consistenly tame lions born in the wild to remain harmless and docile.

I thought that we were talking about scaling up existing housecats, not creating completely new breeds. No thanks on the former. That is horror movie fodder and there is no way I would let one of those hellbeasts anywhere near me. OTOH, I probably could probably learn to work with a lion or tiger from the wild if I got is as baby and raised it carefully. I wouldn’t let anyone else play with it except trained adults but I could probably avoid getting maimed or killed just like most owners do. All bets are off with a giant housecat.

One too many belly rubs and you just got decapitated.

The difference between a cat and dog is going to be dominated by the dog’s sense of pack hierarchy. So long as they think you are top dog your are going to be much safer than with any feline. Dogs kill infant humans. If they think the infant is a threat, and not above them in rank, there can be problems.

There are lots of theories about how cats understand their position in the world. Those that are also pack animals - ie lions, may see things differently to solitary hunters. Domestic cats seem to be able to adapt to either mode. But even when living in a pack, domestic cats don’t have the same level of sense of hierarchy as do dogs.
Some theories of domestic cats say they are locked in a strange arrested development, where they both think they are your kitten, and sometimes treat you as if your are theirs. Similar with dogs, but the sense of top dog seems to be dominant.

ETA, there are differences between the aggressive behaviour between species as well. Pack animals will kill one another for dominant position. They will try to avoid it, but it happens. Dogs can be coerced into fighting to the death. Domestic cats don’t kill one another, and can’t be coerced into fighting.

A friend of mine had a dog sled team with two wolf dog hybrids in the mix. Super friendly dogs, the way most dogs are. He twisted his ankle running and went to feed them that afternoon. As he limped into the pen to feed them the lead dog snarled and jumped him. Luckily, he saw what was about to happen and managed to to get the dog on its back and got him to submit. He never had any issues after that but it shows even pack can turn on you sometimes.

As to a lion sized house cat? Fuck no. I’d rather tickle a wolverine’s belly.Obligatory video.

OTOH, domestic cats certainly do fight one another for their own reasons on their own initiative. And they can be real damaging to one another. The classic swaggering neighborhood alpha alley cat missing hunks of ear and tail is a cliché for a reason.

Given what ordinary sized house cats can do to one another, I don’t fancy my chances against one that outweighs me 2 or 3x.

So the question becomes not what happens after the giant house cat attacks, but whether it ever chooses to do so.

As you say, house cat behavior is a strange, poorly understood, and mercurial thing. I’m disinclined to bet my life on breeding for tameness to carry the day.

There are videos on YouTube of irritated housecats going on a sustained offensive against the human instigator. If they were equipped to do lethal damage, they surely would be dangerous.

I don’t care how big you scaled up our cats - they would still cower and whimper if they pissed off my wife and she broke out The Voice. Caelan would still want his skritches, too, so no problem there. The thought of a lion-sized Havoc wanting to crawl into my lap bothers me a bit.

Not sure if that lead dog who attacked was the wolf hybrid, but your post must be evaluated in the nether regions of this thread. To go from “wolf hybrid” to “super friendly dogs” is an error in categories: they aren’t dogs.

I’d be interested in reading that book if you can remember the name. :slight_smile:

Great username / thread combo. Now you just need to work up a suitable post. :slight_smile:

I doubt this is the same book that EH is talking about, but the Sci-Fi author Charles Stross mentioned that one of the things he had to leave out of his novel, Iron Sunrise, was the artificially-enhanced intelligent cat Fred. The link is to a post at Stross’s blog, where he goes into more detail about why the cat got dropped, as well as a scene where the novel’s protagonist ‘Wednesday’ confronts Fred mid-burglary.

Though Fred ultimately isn’t in it, I liked both Iron Sunrise and its predecessor, nominated for the Hugo in 2004, Singularity Sky. In another Hugo-nominated novel of his, Accelerando, a talking cat (that is actually an avatar for a supergenius AI) plays a large role.

Lion-sized nothing: I’d not want to confront a house cat blown up to only the size of my old Weimaraner. (Who acted basically, like a giant 85 pound house cat. But that’s neither here nor there)

Can you imagine how much damage this typical kitty behavior would do if it were an 80 lb cat doing it?

You’d be in the ER in minutes.

The lead was one of the hybrids, but I disagree with your assertion that they aren’t dogs. As I understand it the most fundamental difference is that a dog will look to their human for assistance where a wolf will basically ignore a human and try to get what it wants without help. Cite.
All his animals would look him in the eye and were as dog-like as any other. These were family pets who pulled a sled, not like the traditional Innu dog teams that are a very different thing. Did they have the capability do go wild? Sure, just like pretty much any other large breed dog but in this case thier primal instincts got the better of them.
As I said, once Pat asserted dominance he didn’t have any more issues on that front. That said, he was an experienced owner who had had multiple sled teams and hybrids in the past so he knew enough to keep him from getting really hurt. The average dog person probably would not have done as well and ended up in hospital and a euthanized dog.

As to lion sized cats, I suspect, as noted, they wouldn’t have the muscle mass an adult lion would but a 500 lb Ella the Hellcat would be a bad day for pretty much everyone. Besides, I’m not cleaning that litter box.

You wouldn’t catch me looking a wolf-hybrid in the eye. Ever.

FWIW, I caused a scene and went imminent-berserko in throwing out a guy from the park with his 1-generation (or whatever they call it) 1/2 wolf dog.

Wait, doesn’t this describe house cats now?

(Maybe there is a whooshing sound that I missed…)

Yesterday a domestic cat chomped on my wrist. She didn’t mean to hurt me, but I have a bruise and two little tooth marks. A lion sized domestic cat could have broken my wrist, damaged tendons and caused me to lose a lot of blood with that same chomp. So, no thanks.