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Are Cat Spies Sent by Aliens?

Recent polling shows Americans love a good conspiracy theory. They also love cats. This was bound to happen.
April 5, 2013, 1:24pm

Image via Keith Kissel / Wikimedia

Attention cat people. There’s a burgeoning theory around the internet that begs reckoning. It’s not the theory that parasites in cat poop are turning you into crazy cat ladies, though that’s certainly cause for alarm. It’s much worse than that.

Domestic house cats, it seems, may be alien sentinels sent to spy on us and report their findings back to the mother ship. Or, as some theorists have put it, they’re like alien camcorders tracking our every move.


Well, maybe. We humans sure love our conspiracy theories, and there’s a decent chance this is just another among them. As a recent poll reveals, 51 percent of Americans believe the JFK assassination was a conspiracy; 15 percent believe “the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals”; and 4 percent believe reptilian shapeshifters control the government.

It’s impossible to know just how pervasive the cats-as-alien-spies theory is without an adequate polling apparatus (if you have one, please get in touch). One guesses it’s fairly low. Then again, 4 percent is much higher than one might have expected for the lizard-people theory, and according to the same poll some 29 percent of Americans believe aliens exist and 14 percent believe in Bigfoot. So who knows?

As with most conspiracy theories, the cats-as-alien-spies theory is surprisingly well-developed—and based on a few kernels of truth and genuine ambiguity. How much? Motherboard decided to take a look at some of the supporting premises, one by one. A user who goes by the moniker “RedSpider” summarizes the prevailing wisdom in a handy list on the British tech message board, Digital Kaos. I’ve appropriated his/her list here (lightly edited for style and clarity), with the original points bolded.

Examine the evidence and decide for yourself:

1. There is no documentation before ancient Egypt that mentions the existence of cats. And in ancient Egypt, they were worshipped as gifts from the gods.

As with several of these premises, these propositions are mostly true, but also somewhat disputable. To find out more about the fossil record, I emailed Ryan Haupt, a paleontologist at the University of Wyoming who, as he described it for a previous interview, “studies the lives of modern mammals to better understand what their extinct relatives were doing in the past.” He said Egypt was “the best guess” for the origin of the domestic cat species, but noted that “cat skeletons have been found at older sites.”

Read the rest over at the new