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How do coyotes catch cats?

Keep Your Dog Safe From Coyotes

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protect your dog from coyotes

Coyote populations in urban and suburban areas are rising, and this can be quite scary when you take your dog out for a walk only to be confronted or followed by one. And where there’s one, there are likely more!

Coyotes aren’t typically known to attack people and larger dogs, though it certainly does occur. Coyotes do routinely go after cats and smaller dogs.

In my local area of Seattle, there are daily sightings as well as regular reports of coyote attacks toward small dogs in their backyards or even when on leashed walks. Not to mention the number of outdoor cats attacked and killed by coyotes. I know that there are at least two to three different packs of coyotes in my neighborhood, as they live in the state park and in a few of the larger greenbelts in the area.

Coyotes truly can thrive anywhere, so just because you live in a busy city doesn’t mean they aren’t around. During a recent nighttime nature walk with the Preventive Vet team in an urban park, it was amazing to hear the sheer number of coyote howls, barks, and yips around us. Check out this short video to hear them:

As urban sprawl and residential building have encroached on coyotes’ natural habitat, they have quickly acclimated to living in closer contact with people. While most of the time, coyotes will avoid direct interactions with people, with continued exposure, they are becoming bolder and less frightened. This is especially true if their food supply is low or during mating or whelping seasons.

We must learn to coexist with urban coyotes. Coyotes are an important part of the ecosystems they inhabit. They help to keep rodent populations in check and have an indirect role in helping to keep native bird populations flourishing. But when you start seeing them in your yard, on your street, or generally in your neighborhood — and definitely when you are followed by one on a walk — it does make one think about their presence just a little bit more!

Let’s look at some ways to make sure your pet is protected from coyote attacks.

What to Do If You and Your Dog Are Followed By a Coyote

  • Do NOT turn your back to the coyote — do NOT run. Coyotes can run up to 40 mph over short distances. You won’t outrun them.

    Throw rocks, branches, or anything else at your disposal toward the coyote to scare them away (don’t aim directly at them though).

coyotevest spike vest for dogs

How to Decrease Your Chances of Running Into a Coyote

  • Walk your dog after sunrise and before sunset. Avoid walking during dawn and dusk, as this is when coyotes are most active.
  • Don’t let your dogs out in the yard without direct supervision, especially at dawn or dusk.
  • Ensure your dog has a reliable recall — for the times when they’re off-leash in designated off-leash areas or in your own yard.
  • Walk your dog with other people and walk in well-trafficked areas.
  • Be aware of the times of the year when coyotes are typically more active and bold in your area. Typically prior to, during, and right after their mating season — between February to May.
  • Spay or neuter your dog or keep them on leash and under direct supervision. (Unless you want a “Coydog” — a cross between a coyote and a domestic dog — they can interbreed!)

coyote danger to pets

Other Dangers to Pets from Coyotes

Coyotes can carry and transmit certain infectious diseases that your dog or other pets can catch. These include distemper, hepatitis (liver inflammation), parvovirus, rabies, leptospirosis, and others.

Coyotes can also be a source of mange (mites), fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and other parasites that they can pass along to your pets. Your dog doesn’t even need to come into direct contact with a coyote to pick up these nasty bugs, which is why it’s so important to protect your dog year-round with parasite preventatives.

How to Keep Coyotes Out of Your Yard

  • NEVER intentionally feed a coyote.
    Beware of coyotes sign
  • Don’t keep pet food outside.
  • Clean your grill after use, or store it inside your garage or shed when not in use.
  • Securely cover your trash and recycling cans. If possible and practical, put your trash out the morning of pick-up rather than the evening before.
  • Don’t add meat, bones, etc., to your compost pile. Ensure your compost bin is tightly and securely covered.
  • Pick up your dog’s feces promptly, as the smell can attract coyotes.
  • If you have fruit trees, pick low-hanging or throw away fallen or rotten fruit. Coyotes are very opportunistic feeders.
  • Keep cats indoors. Always indoors is safest, but at minimum, keep your cat inside between dusk and dawn (when coyotes tend to be most active).
  • Don’t leave dogs tied up outside, especially small dogs. But really, any dog of any size, when tied up, is no match for a coyote and is enticing to them.
  • Don’t become indifferent. If you see a coyote in your yard or neighborhood, ALWAYS haze (deter) them away.
  • Be extra vigilant if you or any of your neighbors keep backyard chickens, as the coyotes will be attracted both to the chickens and to the chicken feed. (And to the rodents that will also be attracted to the chickens and their feed! Get tips on how to keep rodents away the pet-safe and coyote-safe way.)
  • You can buy and install rollers to the top of your yard fences to help keep coyotes* and other animals out, as well as your dogs and (possibly) cats in. Or you can even make yourself some DIY fence-top rollers.
    Be aware that rollers are less likely to keep coyotes out of your yard if your fence is less than 6 feet tall, as coyotes can easily jump those heights.

urban coyotes

Additional Coyote Resources

  • Coyote Biology
  • Coyote Hazing – Guidelines for Discouraging Neighborhood Coyotes (HSUS)
  • Coyote Smarts – Raising public awareness of coyotes and promoting effective strategies for keeping pets, families, and communities safe
  • Project Coyote – Promoting coexistence between people and wildlife
  • If you’ve lost an outdoor cat, here’s an article with some resources that will hopefully help get them back home safe

Have you seen coyotes in your neighborhood? Have you ever had a pet injured or stalked by a coyote? Have you yourself ever been followed by or encountered a coyote? Please share your story and any coyote tips in the comments section below.

About the author

Cathy Madson, MA, FDM, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

As Preventive Vet’s dog behavior expert and lead trainer at Pupstanding Academy, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement and force-free methods. With over 13 years of experience, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs on a wide variety of training and behavior issues. Beyond her one-on-one consultations through Pupstanding Academy, she also teaches group dog training classes at Seattle Humane. Her specialties include dog aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, and puppy socialization.

Cathy is a certified Family Dog Mediator, and certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, holding both the CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA designations. Cathy is a Fear Free Certified Certified Professional, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and the Dog Writer’s Association of America. She has also completed the Aggression in Dogs Master Course.

When she’s not geeking out about dogs, you can find her reading, hiking with her two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, or paddleboarding.

Do Coyotes Attack And Eat Cats? What You Need To Know!

coyote close up

Just because you don’t see coyotes in your neighborhood, doesn’t mean that they don’t live in local gardens. In fact, research suggests that while coyotes live on small animals like mice and rats, they will feast on feral and domestic cats when they need to.

Studies vary dramatically in their findings, with some indicating that an alarmingly high 42% of an urban coyote’s diet is feline, while other studies suggest that the figure is much lower, just 1% or 2%. Whatever the figures, coyotes are opportunistic animals and will hunt and eat cats when they live in proximity. Small dogs are also at risk, although these attacks are much less common.


Where Do Coyotes Live?

The coyote is a member of the dog family and while they used to live in deserts and open prairies, they are now forced to live in forests and up mountains. However, they are also happy to colonize cities and towns.

They will scavenge some food but will hunt and eat small animals, too. They are opportunistic feeders, which means that they will adapt their diet according to whatever they can find.

Some live on frogs and toads while some live on rodents. Some may live on insects and grass, while others will kill and eat lambs, calves, and other livestock. They are highly adaptable, and they are considered pests by a lot of farmers and others.

coyote in the wild

Coyotes In Your Yard

Coyotes can run at speeds of up to 40 MPH and they have very good vision and a strong sense of smell. This combination makes them a formidable foe and, if that wasn’t enough, they will form hunting packs during the more challenging winter and fall months. They are now considered among the top predators in the US and they will scavenge and hunt in rural areas.

  • Related Read:Do Bobcats Attack and Eat Cats? What You Need To Know!

The Figures

According to studies by Gerht and Riley and Morey et al, urban and suburban coyotes still rely on natural food sources rather than eating man made or human-generated food like waste and domestic pets. Rabbits, rodents, the occasional deer, and some fruit were the primary ingredients in the diets of these coyotes.

However, another study, this time by Arizona, Grubbs, and Krausman highlighted the fact that 42% of an urban coyote’s diet consists of cats.

Coyote in the woods

Keep Your Cat Indoors

Coyotes do present a danger to cats in certain parts of the country, although the exact level of threat is disputed. To keep your cat from harm, the safest measure to take is to keep them indoors. Domesticated cats that are well fed and properly looked after do not need to be let out. Keeping them indoors not only protects cats from coyotes and other wild animals, but also protects them against illness, fights with other cats, vehicles, and theft.

Protecting Your Ferals

For those that feed feral cats, keeping them indoors obviously isn’t an option, but some measures can be taken to help minimize the risk of fights and incidents.

  • Have A Set Mealtime – If you feed ferals, consider giving them food once a day and keep it to a set time, during the day, when coyotes are less likely to be active in built-up areas. The ferals will quickly get used to the routine, and the coyotes are unlikely to attack during the day.
  • Pick Up Leftover Food – It isn’t just the cats that attract animals like coyotes, it is the food that you leave out for them. Most animals will take the lazy option of eating food that is left out for them if given the choice, and coyotes are no different in this regard. Pick up any of the feral’s food that is left so that it won’t attract wild animals.
  • Ensure A Safe Escape Route – If a coyote does attack, the cats need an escape route: a way to run that will enable them to get away from the coyote and to safety. Try to ensure that you don’t feed the cats in a corner because corners only have one way out. If that exit is cut off by an animal like a coyote, the cat has no options.
  • Provide A Climbing Post – Cats are exceptional at climbing, and while coyotes can jump, run, and hunt, they aren’t great at climbing. Provide a vertical or near-vertical post that a cat can climb. Ensure that it leads a few feet off the floor and this should prevent the coyote from being able to follow.
  • Discourage Any Coyotes YouSee – Coyotes are territorial and if they have a spot where they like to hunt, they will keep returning. If your garden is in this territory, your cat runs the real risk of being attacked. Discourage coyotes by chasing them off and using humane methods to get them away from the area.


Coyotes And Cats

Coyotes are wild animals and they will adapt to their surroundings and the current availability of food. While they usually eat small animals like rodents, they will turn their attention to cats if there are any in the neighborhood. Keep your cat in or, if you are worried about ferals, ensure that they have routine and good escape routes.

Also See:

  • Do Raccoons Attack and Eat Cats?
  • Do Foxes Attack and Eat Cats?

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Lead Pet Expert & Pet-ditor in Chief

Nicole is the proud mom of 3 rescue fur babies, Baby, a Burmese cat; Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway; and Mac, a Lab/Mastiff. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband and new baby daughter in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ know ledge with pet lovers across the globe. . Read more

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