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Which Big Cats Eat Humans, Lethal Big Cats [Videos]

Updated on February 4, 2014

Lethal Big Cats, Captive and Wild

Who could imagine that the mighty human, the top of the food chain would be considered as food to another mammal? Well, many of America's population—both South America and North America—have found themselves on the big cat hunting agenda. Don't be fooled, zoos that have big cat exhibits are not exempt from these unsettling events. Knowing which big cats eat humans may seem like odd information to learn, but I'm betting that those who have been eaten alive by a fang toting big cat wish they had been better educated in big cat hunting habits. Whether lethal in the wild or in your local zoo, big cats see you as a tempting meal, or at least good hunting practice. Let's learn why:

Which big cats eat or hunt humans more often then imagined?

  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Leopard
  • Jaguar
  • Cougar

These big cats are the only big felines that will hunt humans as food. No other cats prey on humans. However, just because they aren't hunting humans as food, doesn't mean they can't inflict measurable harm to our bodies. The beautiful cheetah is a prime example of a big cat that is truly harmless in the wild, preferring to avoid confrontation with man, thankfully finding us utterly unappealing as a menu selection. But, as humans often do, we will find some ingenious way to put ourselves in harms way, even if it takes irritating a big cat who generally avoids our company.

Beautiful Cheetah lounging on a tree branch.
Beautiful Cheetah lounging on a tree branch.
Cheetahs have a spring loaded body for an extra burst of speed when hunting game.
Cheetahs have a spring loaded body for an extra burst of speed when hunting game.

Wild Cheetahs on Wild Kingdom

This story is true and is told as a cautionary tale, detailing that even the best of intentions can piss-off a big carnivorous cat; however, the show must go on!

We humans can be a very daft bunch...

In the 1960s a show called Wild Kingdom was on our TVs every week. During the filming of one episode the cast was given the task of capturing—for conservation reasons—cheetahs from horse back. One of the regular cast members (Stan Brock) tossed a lasso and caught one of the cheetahs. When the loop went around the cheetahs neck, it growled and snarled, shyly swatting and then submitting. The big cat gave-in rather than risking further harm or injury to its long spring-loaded body. The greater danger arose with a decision made by the production's director. Feeling that the cheetahs lack of struggle and then quick submission did not make for "good TV" he had Brock release the beast and catch this same cheetah a second time. As Brock went to reproduce the capture, the cheetah had remembered its lines and surprisingly even ad-libbed a little bit. The big cat jumped onto the back of the horse, squarely looking Brock in his eyes and took a chunk out of his face. The cats big fangs had punctured his cheek bone, and then in a wisp of dust and blurred motion, the cheetah jumped from atop the horse and darted from the location. Brock made a good recovery, undergoing plastic surgery to recoup his TV-star good looks.

Out of all of the big cats, the cougar has been the greatest and most destructive human killer within city sites and on our news. This big cat has had several generations of practice to fine tune its hunting skills for our human flesh.

The thought of being hunted by a big cat gives the cat-call, "Here-kitty-kitty" an entirely new level of respect!

From calm to Killer in a split second. With little warning a big cat can strike.

Beautiful close up of domestic white cat -- Miss Kitty
Beautiful close up of domestic white cat -- Miss Kitty | Source
Even a smallest feline retains the hunter spirit, as do all true carnivores
Even a smallest feline retains the hunter spirit, as do all true carnivores | Source

Feline Predation Practice

My 5 pound Manx, pure-white house-cat, is amazing in her stealth and agility. As I entertain myself with a brightly colored cord attached to a stick, flicking it left and right she snaps her body fully into the air rotating in a spiral motion reaching out and capturing her prey. I can hardly see the tip of the cord as it flits past my eye-line, but this natural hunter sees not only the tip, but an opportunity to grab it in mid-air halting and destroying it. After a few captures her interest had devolved, and with a glance from her beautiful fearless face and deep greenish-yellow eyes, her hunting practice came to a halt. She was now interested in the decorative dangling fringe of a blanket.

You see, even a 5 pound house cat is a mighty predator in her own world. Every bug and rodent is in jeopardy; her play is predation practice for their demise! This hunting practice is the cornerstone for all felines, from tabby to tiger. Keep in mind that my 5 pound white Manx was only catching-releasing-catching-releasing the small things that scurry about our feet. For a 500 pound big cat, the subject of practice becomes larger and more agile itself, and on occasion, two-legged and toting a camera and backpack.

Never make a Leopard Angry! Ranger Attacked

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Would you consider a career working with these big cat predators?

See results

Big Cats are Everywhere

When you think about big cats and where you might encounter one, along a paved jogging trail or a parks hiking path, would seem unlikely because of our noisy city lifestyles. But, these are exactly where you are most likely going to come face-to-face with these brawny fanged felines. The cougar—also known as puma, mountain lion, or panther—has made many headlines after attacking a human well within the comfort zone of our city gates.

The cougar can be found in a large area of habitats, in the dessert, coastal plains, swamps, mountains and the rain forest of both South and North America. Due to the cougars solitary nature and virtual silence, it can effectively reside alongside our cities without detection. This big cat likes to hunt at dusk and dawn, but will adapt to day and night hunting when needed. It will hunt just about anything from rodent to alligator to deer. Even snacking on a grasshopper if the insect flits across its path.

The cougar is truly a very able hunter with some impressive qualities. This big cat can see in the dark, climb trees, and even swim. It can fall from a—better than—45-foot ridge, landing safely on its feet. With a running start it can leap close to 40-feet, and from a dead stop it explodes, leaping an easy 20-feet. This large cat can carry about three times its own weight in its jaws (a 140-pounder has been seen carrying off a deer carcass weighing 125-pounds, up and over a 6-foot barrier).

The Power of Pumas

Ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey,  this cougar is focused and fierce.
Ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey, this cougar is focused and fierce.
Cougar attacks an on-location film crew member from behind.
Cougar attacks an on-location film crew member from behind.
Jim Hamm in 2007, hospitalized after cougar attack. (Thank you for the use of your famous image, Mark!)
Jim Hamm in 2007, hospitalized after cougar attack. (Thank you for the use of your famous image, Mark!) | Source

A Big Cat Attack - Investigated in California, circa 1994

It is well documented that unlike most predators, the wild cougar will damage humans almost exclusively for hunting practice. It's a good thing to know that taller people are less likely to be attacked, due to intimidation, but that every human size has been taken down by this skilled cat. Young or slender hikers and joggers must be very aware of the silent stalking of the cougar, this creature prefers smaller humans who resemble herbivores like elk and deer.

In April, 1994, in El Dorado County, California, a slender runner was attacked on a wilderness trail. When the investigators reviewed the evidence of the attack, they found that the cougar had collided with the woman knocking her 30 feet down an embankment next to a creek, she regained her footing and fought back, her hands and arms showed many defensive wounds. She managed to break free running another 25 feet where the cougar returned her to its grasp. A single bite to her skull, shattered it, killing her in quick time. (Grice, 2010)

This trail of predation tells us a couple of things. First, this runner was agile, quick thinking, and possessed a strong will to live. The next thing we learn is that these things are no match for a large predator cat, who by the way, did not eat the woman, but was rather practicing its predation skills.

Even a "controlled" situation can quickly become hunting practice for a Tiger, and in the blink of an eye. Thank God for this alert Big Cat handler! Yikes!

Comments for ZOOS - Which Big Cats Eat Humans...

Submit a Comment
  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California seems you did... ;)Thanks for sharing your comment!



  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Nearly all big cat workers would not even dignify that article with a response.

  • Donna Suthard profile image

    Donna Suthard 

    9 years ago

    great story! I enjoyed this hub very much..I was a lucky person, when I met up with a panther!

  • profile image

    Ann, acne treatment specialist 

    9 years ago

    Sometimes, it's the human's fault as to why big cats attack. Let us not provoke them to do so to avoid any harm or wound being inflicted.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    9 years ago from Northern, California

    Pam~ Thanks for reading my hub. Up close to one of these big cats you can feel how truly fragile we humans are. I never took my eyes off of them, I always had a second person on hand to watch, and I moved only deliberate and slow so not to encourage their predation triggers. They are not pets in my thoughts, they are beasts that can have their way with any human they see fit to play with. We are NOT at the top of this food chain, unless it translates to a menu item in a big feline's eyes. I appreciate your comments my friend.


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I think the cats are beautiful but terrifying. I have never understood why someone would want to own a cat and keep it in their backyard. I don't think it's illegal in some places. I really enjoyed your hub as it had good information.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    9 years ago from Northern, California

    Darlene Sabella~ It would be a beautiful thing if all ceatures were where they need to be, as intended by nature. I guess the human need to "fix" things and learn about things trumps the design nauture created. Thank you for the wonderful comments and for stopping by Darski!


    Eiddwen~ So nice to see that you stopped by today! I enjoy animal videos a bunch also, but I am very glad that you had some time to take-in the animal videos placed in the hub. Thank you for the warm comments! It means the world.


  • Eiddwen profile image


    9 years ago from Wales

    I loved this hub with great pictures plus video clips.

    I love watching anything on wildlife/nature so this was a treat for me.

    Thank you so much for sharing K9keystrokes

    Take care


  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 

    9 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Excellent hub and scary too, I beilieve they should never be caged, they need to move these cats and drop them back into Africa and let them run free, that is who they are and being cages is cruel and inhuman, just my opinion. Enjoyed your hub and I rate this up love & peace darski


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