how to keep coyotes away from cats
Questions About Cats

How to Protect Cats from Coyotes

Any cat that goes outside is vulnerable to a coyote attack. Even cats that are smart and aggressive can become prey for coyotes.

How can you keep coyotes away from cats? Keeping your cat inside is the only way to keep them 100% safe. If you do let your cat in the yard, they should have a coyote-proof cat shelter to escape to. You should also build a 6-foot-high fence to keep coyotes out.

If you want to deter coyotes from your neighborhood, try to get other residents involved. Educating your neighbors will help to protect the cats in your area.

How to Keep Coyotes Away from Cats

The simplest way to protect cats from coyotes (Canis latrans) is to keep cats inside 24/7. Indoor cats can thrive as much as outdoor cats, and they usually live longer lives, too. However, most cats would prefer to spend some time outdoors. If you choose to let your cat outside, you should:

  • Build a Coyote-Proof Fence
  • Provide a Cattio or Coyote-Proof Cat Shelter
  • Remove all Food from the Garden
  • Scare off Coyotes When you See Them

Even if you choose to keep your cat indoors, you should try to discourage coyotes from your yard. This will help to protect neighbors’ cats and local feral colonies.

Do Coyotes Eat Cats?

Coyotes will go after cats and eat them. Coyotes usually kill rodents, fish and rabbits, but they will consider cats as well. According to an article by The Guardian, cats make up 20% of an urban coyote’s diet.

Coyotes will eat feral cats and domestic cats. Domestic cats may be considered easier prey because they are usually less vicious. Here’s some further info on the predators of cats.

Coyote’s don’t just kill when they are hungry, either. Coyotes will catch a surplus of food and store it for later. So, even a well-nourished coyote may go after your cat.

How Often Do Coyotes Kill Cats?

We don’t know how often cats are killed by coyotes because many deaths go undetected. In one study, researchers followed 8 coyotes for 4 months, in Arizona. During this period, they recorded 36 coyote attacks on cats. 19 of these attacks resulted in a cat dying.

So, roughly speaking, a coyote kills a cat once every 2 months. There are millions of coyotes across the country – and many of them venture into urban environments. Coyotes are one of the main causes of sudden death in cats.

Killings are most likely to occur between 10 pm and 5 am, in urban areas. They are also more likely to occur between May and August (pup-rearing season).

Coyotes often mate for life, and both the male and the female raise the pups. There are more attacks between May and August because adult coyotes need to find food for young. They may also become more hostile and territorial to protect their pups.

Can a Cat Survive a Coyote Attack?

Yes, but coyotes usually win the fight. Even if cats do survive, they will have life-changing injuries.

According to Coyote Yipps, coyotes might ignore cats if something better is on offer. They might also run away from a cat that’s stalking them. Lone attacks on cats are also less successful than pack attacks.

Coyotes can run 40 miles an hour, so cats cannot outrun coyotes. However, cats can climb tall trees to escape coyotes if their response time is quick enough, but may not be able to get down.

do coyotes eat cats?

Where Do Coyotes Live?

Coyotes used to live in the Southwest regions of the US. Over time, they have spread to other parts of the country. Nowadays, coyotes live all over the US, Mexico, Central America, and in most of Canada.

Coyotes live for around 14 years, and they find it very easy to reproduce. This explains how they’ve been able to grow as a species. They are also extremely adaptable, so they can live almost anywhere.

According to USDA, coyotes can live in swamps, grassland, mountains, deserts, and urban environments. For example, coyotes have set up home in places like New York, Phoenix, Denver, and Los Angeles.

Researchers at The University of California have designed a Coyote Encounters Map. This allows you to browse and record coyote sightings in California (and across the US).

Will Feeding Feral Cats Attract Coyotes?

Feral cat colonies often rely on the kindness of local people. Many cat lovers enjoy feeding feral cats. But will this attract more coyotes to the area?

Studies show that feeding feral cats does encourage coyotes to move into the area. The coyotes are attracted to the cats’ food and the cats themselves. Coyotes gradually kill members of the colony and consume the food that people put down for the cats.

If you have been feeding a colony of feral cats and the colony seems to be getting smaller, coyotes may be to blame.

How to Feed Feral Cats without Attracting Coyotes

Some people decide it would be kinder to stop feeding feral cats. On the other hand, some charities say it’s fine to keep feeding feral cats, but you should do so with caution. For example:

  • Watch over the cats while they are eating. If a coyote approaches, chase it away immediately.
  • Serve the cat food in dishes (rather than straight on the ground). Remove the dishes as soon as the cats have finished eating and take these inside the house. If any food is left over, take it inside and dispose of it or save it for the cats’ next meal – do not leave it outside.
  • Feed the cats near some tall trees so the cats can escape quickly. If there are no trees around, you can put some tall posts in the ground. The Humane Society recommends posts that are at least 10 feet tall (and 4×4 inches).
  • Feed the cats in the middle of the day when coyotes are less active.

If you do this, you are less likely to put the feral cats at risk and you won’t be inviting coyotes into your garden.

With that in mind, let’s explore some other ways to make your yard unwelcoming for coyotes.

Remove Food from your Garden

Coyotes can travel up to 65 km2 each night. If they smell something that takes their fancy, they will stop to explore further. Smells that interest them may include:

  • Fruit – Coyotes are very partial to mulberries.
  • Trash – Trash that has blown onto your garden, or rubbish sacks that have not been tied securely.
  • Bird Feed – Breadcrumbs, seeds, etc.
  • Leftovers from a Barbecue – The smell of a barbeque can be very alluring to a coyote. Keep all pets inside if you are having a BBQ.
  • Compost – Especially if it contains cooked food scraps, meat, oil, or dairy. Compost should be stored in a secure container rather than a heap and should only contain veg scraps.
  • Insects Living in the Dirt – Insects are often more plentiful after rain, so coyotes may be more visible at this time.
  • Dirty Pet Food Dishes Left Outside – Pets should always be fed indoors.
  • Water Bowls Left Outside – Water bowls can be a magnet for coyotes if you live in a hot and dry climate. If water starts collecting in empty plant pots or other containers, pour the water on the garden.
  • Prey – Such as cats, small dogs, mice, rats, frogs, voles, rabbits, and even porcupines – some of these are also attracted by the food you leave in your garden.
  • Uncovered Fishponds – Coyote will prey on fish.

If there is no food or water in your yard, coyotes are less likely to bother you.

Build a Coyote-Proof Fence

If you allow your cat in the yard unsupervised, you really should build a coyote-proof fence. When installed properly, they are effective at keeping coyotes out. To be effective, your fence should have the following features:

  • It must be at least 6 feet tall, but ideally 8 feet tall.
  • If you don’t want an 8-foot-tall fence, put a coyote roller on the top of a 6-foot fence to make it more effective. Any coyote that attempts to climb the fence will fall back down.
  • If you don’t want to purchase a coyote roller, you could use chicken wire instead.
  • The fence should extend under the ground at least 6 inches. This will stop coyotes from burrowing underneath the fence.

You should check your fence regularly for any weak points or signs of damage.

Install a Coyote-Proof Cat Shelter

If you want your cat to be 100% protected while outdoors, you should install a Cattio or cat enclosure. These can be costly and impractical for some gardens, though.

Another option is a coyote-proof cat shelter. These won’t offer 100% protection, but they will help to keep your cat safe.

A cat shelter is a place where small house cats can run into when they are feeling threatened. The opening to the shelter is big enough for a cat to enter but too small for a coyote.

If a coyote chases a cat into a shelter, you’ll hear screaming and howling. You can then go outside and chase the coyote away.

As such, you should only allow your cat outside when someone is at home (and can listen for any problems).

Cat shelters work better than coyote vests for cats because vests may be uncomfortable.

Which Cat Shelters Work Best?

So, which cat shelters will protect your cat from coyotes? According to Alley Cat, you should:

  • Choose a wooden shelter over a plastic or Styrofoam one. Wood is sturdier so will provide better protection against predators.
  • Make sure the hole is small enough to keep a coyote out. When people make their own cat shelters, they tend to make the entry hole too big. Measure the width of your cat and use this as a guide for how big the entrance should be.
  • Instead of buying a cat shelter, you could install a cat flap on your shed.

Look in your local pet store for options. There are also plenty of DIY cat shelter ideas on Pinterest.

Teach your Cat How to Use a Cat Shelter

Coyotes usually attack their prey head-on rather than from behind. This means cats have a second or two to try and escape. Cat shelters can offer excellent protection if the cat knows how to use them.

When a cat is in danger, they will instinctively look for somewhere to hide. However, if they are taken off guard, they might not have time to look for a suitable hiding place.

When you install a cat shelter, make sure your cat has acknowledged it. Try putting their favorite toy or treat in the shelter. You can even put some catnip in there to entice them.

It’s best to provide 2 or 3 different cat shelters, especially if your yard is big. This will offer more protection and give your cat a few different options.

Scare Coyotes from your Garden

Coyotes are usually scared of humans, and we should try to keep things that way. In most cases, you can scare a coyote by:

  • Shouting
  • Clapping your hands
  • Waving your arms
  • Running towards the coyote

If this doesn’t work, you can try:

  • Throwing a tennis ball or shoe at the coyote
  • Spraying the hose or throwing water in their direction
  • Blowing a whistle or playing loud music
  • Shining a torch

Never run away from a coyote because they may think you are prey.

If you see coyotes, in your garden, try to scare them off immediately (even if your cat is indoors). This tells the coyote it’s not safe in your garden, so they are less likely to return.

If you come across a coyote that is very confident and aggressive around humans, you can report this to your local Fish and Wildlife Office.

It’s better not to use lethal force to control coyotes. Although it might be legal in some states, studies show coyote culling is not very effective for controlling populations. It’s much more effective to make your neighborhood less inviting for coyotes.

Will Cutting the Grass Keep Coyotes Away?

Cutting the grass may help to reduce unwanted animals such as foxes and coyotes. However, the Washington Post also suggests that coyotes prefer flat, open spaces (so they can see predators and prey more clearly).

Indeed, coyotes tend to approach their prey from the front rather than stalk them.

So, tidy, manicured lawns might actually be welcoming for coyotes. We can’t know for sure, so it’s probably best to style your lawn/garden in a way that suits your tastes.

You can use the other tried-and-tested methods we’ve discussed to help keep coyotes away.

can a cat outrun a coyote?

Does Ammonia Deter Coyotes?

Soaking clothes in ammonia and tying these to the top of your fence may help to deter coyotes. However, once the clothes have been rained on, you will need to repeat this process. Also, the smell isn’t very pleasant, so it’s not a good long-term solution.

Automatic water sprinklers and lights can also be problematic for the same reason. They may help to keep coyotes away but can be disruptive to you and your pets.

Talk to your Neighbors

If another resident welcomes coyotes into their garden, you should gently advise them of the risks. Some people don’t even realize they are encouraging coyotes.

For example, it’s quite common for people to put cooked food or meat trimmings in the compost. It’s also quite common for people to feed their pets outside and then leave the dishes out overnight.

If you broach the topic with your neighbors, you can work together to keep all the local cats safe.

Coyote attacks are common, so you should do everything you can to protect your cat. The only way to guarantee your cat’s safety is to keep them indoors.

Most cats enjoy going outside, so it would be a shame to keep them inside all the time. But it is unsafe to let a cat roam free, especially at night.

As a compromise, you should provide a Cattio or coyote-proof cat shelter. If using a cat shelter, you should also install a coyote-proof fence that is 6-8 foot high.

Whether you let your cat outdoors or not, it’s best to chase coyotes away whenever you see them. This will help to protect neighbors’ cats and local feral colonies.