Coyotes were in the news a lot in 2017, with reports of cat-coyote conflicts from Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Kitchener, Vancouver, Lac du Bonnet, St Alberts, Ottawa, Sudbury, Cobourg, St Catharines, Oakville, Mississauga and Wasaga Beach.*
Coyotes aren’t to blame for this scenario any more than cats are to blame for eating birds – they’re just doing what comes naturally. It’s up to cat owners to keep their cats from interacting with wildlife, whether as prey or predator. The best way to protect your cat from coyotes and other wildlife, and to protect wildlife from your cat, is, of course, to keep your cat from roaming unsupervised. If you see coyotes regularly, we highly recommend a visit to Coyote Watch Canada — their website is loaded with information about how to co-exist with them. They note that the best way to keep safe is to “avoid conditioning them with food. We need to keep them wild and wary of people. This is the best way to protect our pets and ourselves.”
We wondered just where coyotes fall on the list of outdoor dangers to cats. Do they really hunt that many of our beloved felines? Does letting cats roam constitute providing coyotes with food?
Some research revealed an interesting paper, “Population Ecology of Free Roaming Cats and Interference Competition by Coyotes in Urban Parks” that gave us some answers. The paper, by Stanley Gehrt, Evan C. Wilson, Justin L. Brown and Chris Anchor, fit radio collars on 39 cats and tracked their movements in Chicago parklands, and compared those to the areas frequented by coyotes (using data from a concurrent long-term study that also used radio collars).
For the most part, cats and coyotes divided up their territories and there was little overlap in their main areas of activity. Nonetheless, coyote predation proved to be the worst cause of mortality for the cats in the study. Of the 39 cats collared, 20% died during the study: 1 because of disease, 2 to vehicle collisions, 3 to predation (apparently coyote), and 2 due to unknown causes.
The study wasn’t large enough or close enough to home to generalize the results too much, but it certainly provides an answer to the question of whether coyotes are a threat to cats. The answer is definitely yes.
Responsible pet ownership involves keeping our pets from interacting with wildlife, whether as prey or predators.
Lac du Bonnet, MB – 30 cats!!!
Winnipeg Free Press
East Vancouver, BC
Metro West Daily
Ottawa Community News
St Catharines, ON
St Albert, BC
Wasaga Beach, ON