Frazer Blog

Nine lives: A history of cat-astrophic occurrences

by | Jul 22, 2016 | For Families

An orange cat laying down with its eyes closed

Though dogs are man’s best friend, cats also have coexisted with humans (and gorillas) for thousands of years. Check out some of these odd stories of cats throughout history.


A female Bengal tiger was responsible for an estimated 436 deaths in Nepal and the Kumaon area of India until she was killed in 1907. She was shot by British hunter Jim Corbett in Champawat, after which she was referred to as the Champawat Tigress.

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Oscar, a cat born in 2005, was one of six therapy cats living in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. What’s fascinating about Oscar is that during his time in the nursing home, he predicted approximately 50 patients’ deaths.

Oscar, who typically was not a very affectionate cat, would curl up and sleep with patients who were near death. He predicted deaths with such accuracy that the nursing home began calling families to notify them of the expected death of their loved one if Oscar was found sleeping next to them.

Spy Cat

In the 60s, the CIA began training cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies in a project called Acoustic Kitty. In an hour-long procedure, a veterinary surgeon would implant a microphone in the cat’s ear canal, a small radio transmitter at the base of its skull, and a thin wire into its fur.

The CIA abandoned the $20 million project in 1967 due to the difficulty of training the cats to behave as required. There was a rumor that one of the cats had been hit and killed by a taxi during its first mission, but that was disputed in 2013.

Good at Her Job

In Scottish distilleries, cats are often hired to keep mice away. One particular cat, Towser the Mouser, is estimated to have caught 28,899 mice in her 24 years at the Glenturret Distillery.

Bird Murderers

According to a study by the Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy, free-roaming house cats are responsible for the deaths of nearly 4 billion birds. A University of Nebraska study also states that cats have been responsible for the killing of 33 bird species worldwide.

Walk Like an Egyptian

In ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred. When a cat died, its owners would shave their eyebrows to mourn the death. The cats also were embalmed and put in a sculpted wooden mask, with a pot of milk and a mummified mouse nearby for them to catch.

A Healthier Heart

In 2008, a study found that cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases than people who have never had a pet cat. These results were true even after the researchers took into account other risk factors.

If a Black Cat Crosses Your Path

Many animal shelters refuse to allow people to adopt black cats around Halloween, believing that they will be sacrificed or tortured. But most of this is based on hearsay and urban legends — some adoption facilities have even begun waiving adoption fees for black cats around Halloween in an effort to encourage their adoption.

Rich Cat, Poor Cat

In 2011, a cat inherited $13 million worth of cash and properties from its owner when she passed away at the age of 94. The wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon, Maria Assunta had no children and wanted to make sure her cat Tommaso was taken care of after her death.

Nobody Expects the Rat Infestation

Pope Gregory IX is believed to have worsened the bubonic plague, or Black Death, by condemning all black cats to death, as they were considered an incarnation of Satan. Left unchecked by cats, the rats that spread the bubonic plague began to multiply.

All Ball

In the San Francisco zoo, Koko the gorilla is known for her knowledge of more than 1,000 signs her caregiver calls “Gorilla Sign Language.” She also is known for keeping pets of her own, most notably a gray male kitten she named “All Ball.”

When All Ball escaped and was hit by a car, Koko signed “Bad, sad, bad” and “Frown, cry, frown, sad.” Her caretaker also heard Koko making a sound similar to a human weeping.


When it comes to blood transfusions between species, things can get pretty complicated. But cats can actually receive a blood transfusion from dogs. Though this is not recommended as a first choice, it has been done successfully in the past.

If you liked these cat facts, check out our other blogs on death coincidences here and here.

Do you know of any interesting cat facts? Share them with us below!


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