According to The Guardian, cats make up 20% of an urban coyote’s diet. Any cat that goes outside is vulnerable to a coyote attack. Even cats that are cunning and very aggressive can become prey for coyotes.
If you let your cat in the yard, it should have a coyote-proof cat shelter to escape if there’s an attack. You should also build a 6-foot-high fence to keep coyotes out of your yard. The only way of ensuring that your cat is 100% safe from coyotes is to keep your pet indoors permanently.
If you want to deter coyotes from your neighborhood, get other residents involved. Educating your neighbors will protect all cats in your area. Here’s some info on the different predators of cats.
Do Coyotes Eat Cats?
Coyotes will feed on cats. Coyotes usually kill rodents, fish and rabbits, but they will consider killing cats as well.
Coyotes will eat feral and domestic cats. House cats may be considered easier prey because they are usually less vicious and savvy.
Coyotes don’t just kill when they’re hungry. Coyotes will catch a surplus of food and store it for later. So, even a well-nourished coyote may kill cats.
How Often Do Coyotes Kill Cats?
We don’t know how often cats are killed by coyotes because the majority of feline deaths go completely 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, 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 in America.
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, during the coyote pup-rearing season.
There are more attacks between May and August because adult coyotes need to find food for their young to eat. They may also become more hostile and territorial to protect their pups.
Can a Cat Survive a Coyote Attack?
Cats can survive an attack by a coyote, but coyotes almost always win the fight. Even if a cat does survive, it will likely have life-changing injuries.
According to Coyote Yipps, coyotes might ignore cats if a better food source 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 from the tree.
Where Do Coyotes Live?
Coyotes used to live in the Southwest regions of the U.S. Over time, they have spread to other parts of the country. Nowadays, coyotes live all over the U.S, Mexico, Central America, and most of Canada.
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 U.S.
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.
How to Keep Cats Safe from Coyotes
If you allow your cat to wander around outdoors, then you need to take steps to protect your cat from coyotes.
1/ Remove Food from your Garden
Coyotes can travel up to 65 km2 each night. If they smell something they like, they will stop to explore further. Smells that interest them 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’re 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 – Only feed pets 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 your garden.
- Prey – Such as cats, small dogs, mice, rats, frogs, voles, rabbits, and even porcupines.
- Uncovered Fishponds – Coyotes will prey on fish.
Will Cutting the Grass Keep Coyotes Away?
Cutting the grass may reduce unwanted animals, such as foxes.
The Washington Post suggests that coyotes prefer flat, open spaces so that they can see predators and prey more clearly. Tidy, manicured lawns may be welcoming for coyotes.
2/ Build a Coyote-Proof Fence
If you allow your cat in the yard unsupervised, you 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 buy a coyote roller, use chicken wire instead.
- The fence should extend under the ground at least 6 inches. This will stop coyotes from burrowing underneath the fence.
Check your fence regularly for any weak points or signs of damage.
3/ 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 expensive 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 from coyote attacks.
A cat shelter is a place where small house cats can run into when they are feeling threatened by predators. 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. You should only allow your cat outside when someone is at home and can hear any problems.
4/ Scare Coyotes from your Garden
Coyotes are usually scared of humans. In most cases, you can scare a coyote by doing the following:
- Clapping your hands
- Waving your arms
- Running towards the coyote
- 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 it may think that you’re prey. If you come across a coyote that is very confident and aggressive around humans, you can report the problem to your local Fish and Wildlife Office.
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 to your property in the future.
5/ Deter Coyotes with Ammonia
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. It’s not a good long-term solution.
6/ Advise Your Neighbors
If other residents welcome coyotes into their gardens, advise them of the risks. Some people don’t realize that they’re encouraging coyotes.
For example, it’s quite common for people to put cooked food or meat trimmings in the compost. It’s also common for people to feed their pets outside and then leave the dishes out overnight.
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 at night, especially in coyote pup-rearing season between May and August.