Fact Check

Why the Dog Left

Does a photograph show a woman holding a large domestic cat?

Published Feb. 19, 2004


Claim:   Photograph shows a woman holding a large domestic cat.

Status:   True.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Why you shouldn't feed your cat table scraps . . .

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Origins:   Some people were tempted to dismiss this photograph as a hoax created through digital manipulation due to its similarity to another "big cat" picture from a few years back, but we were not quite so skeptical. As we noted on another page about cats with an unusual style of haircut, felines generally have coats of fur that create the illusion of girth and make them appear to be much larger than they really are.

The photograph reproduced above looked to us as if it could quite plausibly be a genuine picture of one of the larger breeds of domestic cats (such as the Maine Coon) — the cat's being stretched out full-length in the woman's arms leaves it looking much longer than it would seem if it were posed in a normal stance, and its luxurious, fluffed-out coat of hair creates an added impression of extra thickness. This photograph seemed to our eyes to depict nothing more than a typical hefty-sized cat photographed in a way that emphasized it size, and that proved to be the case.

The feline pictured is 2-year-old Maine Coon named Riley, photographed in the arms of his owner, Martha. According to Martha, Riley has lost a bit of weight recently, but he weighed about 24 lbs. at the time the picture displayed above was taken. Here are some additional photos of Riley with Martha, and a picture of Riley with his sister, Callie:

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Last updated:   28 February 2004

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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