Internet Amazed at Terror-Inducing Cat Picture: 'Fur Baby Demon'

A cat photographed mid-yawn by her owner has left the internet in stitches this week after capturing viral attention on Reddit.

Posted on the popular r/Cats forum on Tuesday, Rodney Harper from Norway—who uses the handle rharpr on Reddit—posted the slightly frightening image with the caption: "That split second of terror mid-yawn."

Featuring 6-year-old cat Piper, the cat yawn image has now received more than 11,000 upvotes, with commenters trying to figure out the strange image angle.

Piper the cat yawn photo
The viral photo of Piper the 6-year-old cat captured mid-yawn in an image the that has wowed the internet. _piper_n/Instagram

Harper told Newsweek: "I've been trying to get a photo of her yawning for a while and I lucked out the other day when she jumped on the table and I was on the couch with the phone. There is that spilt second when she yawns where her face turns into something Lovecraftian and I finally got it."

One commenter instantly asked: "What is going on with those teeth?" But other commenters explained the strange angle of the image while agreeing it "sets the mood for the terror."

Because of the image angle, and the cat's yawn, the feline's top two teeth point out at the left and a bottom tooth points at the right looking like a third tooth.

"This is what nightmares are made of," joked one Reddit user. While another compared the cat to the terrifying clown from the 2017 movie It: "[It] looks like Pennywise's mouth when it opens."

"That looks like a sweet fur baby demon," joked another commenter. While another said it was an "awesome picture."

While this cat's scary picture is simply a matter of perspective, many people are scared of even the cutest looking kittens. Ailurophobia is the fear of cats, often characterized by a feeling of anxiety when thinking about a cat, seeing images of a cat or hearing a cat.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a fear of animals is one of the most common phobias alongside a fear of heights. Around 9 percent of American adults and 20 percent of teenagers have a specific phobia disorder at some point during their lifetime.

People with ailurophobia are likely to have had a traumatic experience related to cats. Similarly, some people with the phobia have simply heard negative stories about cats—for example, when cats during the Salem Witch Trials were linked to witches and the devil, or where cats have been linked to superstitions and bad luck. Other people with a fear of cats may have learnt the behavior from a close relative or parent with the same phobia.

The Cleveland Clinic says that as many as 9 in 10 people with specific phobias will see their symptoms improve after exposure therapy with a mental health professional. During these sessions a professional may teach breathing techniques and mix talking therapy with viewing pictures of cats, holding a toy cat and eventually touching a real cat with support.

However, viewers of the yawning cat picture still seemed to have a soft spot for the feline. One Redditor wrote: "Nope. It's still cute," while another said: "Please give that cat all the cuddles in the world for me."

Talking about the reaction to the image, Harper said: "I loaded it up on Reddit yesterday and went out for a bit, and really just noticed it today during lunch when I logged in. It is amazing to see the response."