Do coyotes eat cats? It’s a valid question. When a coyote has a public encounter with an animal or human, it usually makes headlines quickly.
Keep reading to understand cat and coyote encounters and how much of a threat the wild animals are to your pets. We look at their behaviors and how to keep your outdoor cat safe.
Are Coyotes a Threat To Your Cat?
The issue of cat-coyote encounters highlights a pressing concern for cat owners. Coyotes are adaptable and opportunistic predators that have increasingly encroached upon urban and suburban areas. The likelihood of interactions with domestic cats is possible but more so if you’re in a rural area.
Encounters can lead to potentially dangerous situations for cats. Coyotes are skilled hunters and can easily perceive outdoor felines as prey. The expanding human footprint into natural habitats can attract these wild animals closer to residential areas. It’s vital to recognize the potential threat that coyotes pose to your cat.
How Common Is It for Coyotes to Catch and Eat Cats?
It’s fairly uncommon for coyotes to catch and eat cats. It largely depends on factors such as geographical location, food sources that are readily available, and the coyote’s behavior. Coyotes are opportunistic predators and their diet typically includes small mammals like rabbits and rodents. So, they’re less likely to seek out a cat for a meal unless they happen to cross paths and the coyote is hungry.
Instances of coyotes eating feral and tame cats are more likely in suburban or urban areas where the wild animals have adapted to living in close proximity to humans. There was a study done from December 2005 to November 2006 in two residential neighborhoods and a golf course in Tuscan, Arizona, which observed coyote-cat interactions. Thirty-six coyote-cat interactions were observed and 10 resulted in the cat being killed and at least partially eaten. Most instances were in residential areas between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. during coyote pup-rearing season. In the other 26 interactions, the cat was not killed but was chased.
Suggested Reading: Find out if indoor or outdoor cats live longer and why.
Where Are Cats Most Likely to Encounter Coyotes?
Cats are most likely to encounter coyotes in areas where civilization has taken over their natural habitat. Coyotes are known to adapt well to human-altered landscapes and can thrive in parks, open spaces, and even residential neighborhoods. Suburban areas near wooded regions, fields, or water sources can provide ideal conditions for coyotes to establish their territories. So, if a cat lives outdoors part or full-time, there’s a greater likelihood of an encounter. In addition, neighborhoods with abundant food sources, such as unsecured garbage or pet food left outside, can attract coyotes.
Will a Coyote Stalk a Cat?
Coyotes are opportunistic predators and might stalk a cat under certain circumstances. Coyotes are skilled at assessing their surroundings and selecting moments when their prey is most vulnerable. They’ll crouch, slink, and attempt to approach the prey quietly. But not all coyote-cat interactions lead to stalking. That cat’s behavior will determine how it’s approached. Remember, cats are good at hunting and protecting themselves so most of the time a coyote will have a tough fight against a feline.
Do Cats Know to Avoid Coyotes?
Similar to how they know how to fight back, cats likely have a certain level of awareness regarding potential predators like coyotes. While domestic cats might not inherently recognize coyotes as a specific threat, they’re skilled at detecting unfamiliar scents, sounds, and movements.
Cats possess an innate cautiousness that can lead them to be wary of larger animals, including predators. This instinct can vary widely among individual cats and might not always guarantee their safety. However, we don’t recommend relying on your cat’s instincts when it comes to wild animals. A cat doesn’t know that a coyote is going to eat it. But you can minimize its exposure to potential threats.
Pro Tip: Coyotes can pose a threat to small dogs too. Learn how to keep your dog safe from the wild animals.
How Far Away Can a Coyote Smell a Cat?
Coyotes have an exceptional sense of smell that allows them to detect scents from considerable distances. It’s estimated that a coyote can detect a scent up to a mile away. This heightened sense of smell enables coyotes to locate potential prey, including cats, even if they’re not immediately visible.
Could A Cat Defend Itself Against a Coyote?
Cats might have difficulty defending themselves effectively against coyotes due to the significant size and predatory nature of coyotes. However, cats can use their claws to fight while they attempt to run or climb to get out of reach.
The top speed of a domestic cat varies depending on factors like age, health, and breed, but many can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) over short distances. This speed allows them to quickly catch prey or escape from danger.
It’s important to note that not all cats are capable of reaching these speeds, and older or overweight cats are likely to be slower. Additionally, while domestic cats can be quite fast, they are not built for long-distance running and can sustain these speeds only for short bursts.
The speed of a coyote can vary depending on various factors such as age, health, and environment, but generally, they can run at speeds up to 40 to 43 miles per hour (64 to 69 km/h) for short distances. This speed allows them to be effective predators. Unlike some predators that rely on stealth or ambush tactics, coyotes often use their speed and endurance to run down prey over longer distances compared to creatures like domestic cats. So in a chase, especially one of any length, your cat will likely not be able to outrun a coyote.
The video at the beginning of this article is a great demonstration of how a cat will fight and not give in willingly. Unfortunately, if a cat can’t get out of the reach of a coyote, it’s unlikely to match the strength, size, and aggression of a determined coyote. Coyotes are experienced predators that don’t give up easily.
How Do I Protect My Cat From Coyotes?
To minimize cat-coyote encounters, supervise your cat when outdoors and keep it indoors during peak coyote activity times. If you live in an area with known coyote activity, avoid letting your cat roam freely, as this increases the chances of an encounter. Also, consider putting up a fence to keep coyotes away from your yard. Or create a secure outdoor enclosure or “catio” where your cat to enjoy fresh air without exposure to potential predators.
Ensure that your property is well-lit at night and always secure outdoor food sources. By being vigilant and taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risks your cat might face from coyotes.
If you suspect your cat is injured from a coyote attack, we recommend contacting your vet for the best treatment plan.
Suggested Reading: What about wild foxes? Learn if a fox is a cat or a dog.
Keep Your Cat Away From Prowlers
Cat-coyote encounters shed light on the intricate relationship between wildlife and our beloved pets. As natural habitats are developed, coyotes have shown remarkable adaptability, making suburban and even urban environments their new hunting grounds. While some cats might exhibit a certain level of instinctual wariness toward these larger predators, a coyote is likely to outsmart a feline if their paths cross. Therefore, as a pet owner, be sure to keep your cat protected and safe from wild animals in your area.
Have you ever encountered a coyote in the wild? Or has your cat encountered a coyote? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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