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Do Coyotes Carry Cats Back to their Den?

Coyote pup exiting a well concealed den.
Coyote pup exiting a well concealed den.

When a cat or small dog goes missing, pet owners/guardians are often concerned that s/he could have fallen prey to a coyote or other predator.  As a pet detective for eight years, I have often been asked the question: “Do coyotes carry cats back to their dens to eat them?”  Of more concern, I’ve occasionally heard from people that a tracking dog team led them to a presumed predator den and they were told that the resident coyote (or fox or fisher) had killed their cat and taken it into the den.  There is unfortunately a lot of misunderstanding and myth when it comes to coyote behavior.  I am still doing research on this topic, but I wanted to share my findings to date.


Den Use by Coyotes

First of all it is important to understand that coyotes only use dens when they are raising their pups and stop using them when the pups are 8-10 weeks old.  “After that, even young pups generally sleep in the woods – even on nasty, rainy days” (Way 2012).  The coyote breeding season runs from mid-January to early February (in Massachusetts), and the pups are born 60-66 days later in mid-March to early April (Way 2012).  Several weeks before the pups are born, the coyote pair will excavate multiple possible den sites.  If a den site is disturbed, the coyotes will move the pups to one of these other dens, and they will often move the pups every few weeks presumably to avoid parasites like fleas infesting the den (Parker 1995: 63-66).

While the pups are nursing, the female will make short excursions from the den for food and the male may also provide her with some food (note to self: need to find research data on whether the male regurgitates or carries prey).  Once the pups are 8-10 weeks old, the coyotes will move the pups to a rendezvous site.  This is usually in an open area and near water.

Do Coyotes Bring Prey Back to their Dens?

Jonathan Way operates Eastern Coyote Research and has been studying coyotes in Massachusetts for more than ten years.  There is a good article on his website on the “Eastern coyote/coywolf life cycle in southeastern Massachusetts,” which answers many commonly asked questions about coyote behavior.  This is what he had to say about whether adult coyotes bring prey back to their dens.

“I have heard reports of dens surrounded by cat collars, cat remains, or deer fawns. However, all dens I have examined (over 20) have been devoid of prey. I believe this is an old wives tale to perpetuate the myth that coyotes/coywolves wipe out their prey supply, or at the least are having an undesirable affect on our local wildlife (or pets). Adults regularly clean dens by doing things like eating pup feces and regurgitate most food to the pups during this time” (Way 2012).

For more information on coyote denning behavior, I would recommend reading Way’s (2001) study on “Eastern coyote denning behavior in an anthropogenic environment.”  Other research presented in Eastern Coyote: The Story of Its Success (Parker 1995) found similar cases of clean coyote dens:

  • South Dakota – “There are seldom excessive tracks or any large accumulation of food remains around a den as would be expected if the den were used [for] several weeks” (Gier 1957).
  • Maine – “Active dens were devoid of prey remains and adult scats, similar to observations [of dens] in Missouri” (Harrison and Gilbert 1985; Hallett 1977).
  • Wisconsin – “Unlike foxes, coyotes remove bones, scats, and other debris from the den site” (Fruth 1986).

Conclusions (to date)

A coyote is most likely to carry its prey a minimum distance from the kill site before consuming.  Unless the location is perceived as unsafe by the coyote, carrying prey, especially a 10 lb cat, is a waste of energy.  If they need to bring prey to their mate or pups, they will usually consume the edible parts, carry the food in their stomach, and then regurgitate it at the den or rendezvous site.  If they don’t need to share their food, uneaten prey remains are more likely to be cached (buried) for later consumption.  From the research that I’ve read and my personal experience doing coyote research in Yellowstone, it is highly unlikely that a coyote would carry a cat or other large prey item into the den to consume.  On one occasion, I observed a coyote in Yellowstone carrying the legs of a pronghorn fawn, back to the den area.  When we later surveyed the coyote den sites in the park, I found some scat, bones and pieces of hide near the dens.  However, at least in areas where coyotes are hunted, they seem to keep the den area cleaned of prey remains.

In contrast to coyotes, I found in preliminary research on bobcats, foxes and fishers that these species are more likely to bring prey back to their den.  Bobcats and fishers may even bring the prey into their den to consume.

Literature Cited

Fruth, K.  1986.  The coyote (Canis latrans).  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Wildlife Management PUBL-WM-148. 1.

Gier, H.T.  1957.  Coyotes in Kansas.  Kansas Agricultural Experimental Station Bulletin 393: 254.

Hallett, D.L. 1977.  Post-natal mortality, movements, and den sites of Missouri Coyotes.  M.Sc. thesis University of Missouri, Columbia.

Harrison, D.J. and J.R. Gilbert.  1985.  Denning ecology and movements of coyotes in Maine during pup rearing.”  Journal of Mammalogy 66: 714.

Parker, Gary.  1995.  Eastern Coyote: The Story of Its Success.  Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Publishing Limited.

Way, J.G. 2012. Eastern coyote/coywolf life cycle in southeastern Massachusetts and some commonly asked questions. Eastern Coyote Research Publications 4: 1-5. URL:

Way, J. G, P. J. Auger, I. M. Ortega, and E. G. Strauss. 2001. Eastern coyote denning behavior in an anthropogenic environment. Northeast Wildlife 56: 18-30.

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Using a Search Dog to Track a Lost Outdoor-Access Cat

Many people with a lost pet think that a search dog is the best method for finding their pet.  However, most people tend to have unrealistic expectations and a lack of understanding of how a search dog works.  I previously wrote an article on considerations for Using a Search Dog, and in this series of articles, I plan to go more in-depth on how search dogs are used to search for different types of lost pets starting with lost outdoor-access cats, specifically those lost from their home.  An outdoor-access cat is defined as a cat that is allowed outside and unsupervised.  These are the most difficult type of lost pets to find because of the number of possible scenarios for their disappearance and due to the nature of their scent trails.

A Brief Overview of Scent & Types of Search Dogs

Scent being deposited on the ground as a cat walks and upwards through body air currents.
Scent being deposited on the ground as a cat walks and into the air through body air currents.

Our cats are constantly depositing scent wherever they go.  Scent theory describes scent as small rafts of skin (i.e. clusters of skin cells) that are constantly being shed from the body and that are then being broken down by bacteria (Syrotuck 2000).  Some scent is deposited with direct contact with the ground while additional scent flows off the top of the body through air currents and travels through the air before being deposited on the ground.  Scent will be stronger in areas where a cat repeatedly walks such as on preferred travel routes throughout their territory or where they rest.  Large concentrations of scent can also collect (i.e. scent pools) where a cat spends a period of time such as a sleeping spot or refuge such as under a porch.

There are several different types of search dogs that may be called by many different names: tracking dogs, trailing dogs, area detection dogs, air-scenting dogs, cat detection dogs or remains detection dogs to name a few.  Scent-specific dogs (generally tracking or trailing dogs) are trained to follow the individual odor of a missing person or animal.  This individual odor is composed of the skins rafts and personal bacteria of the individual and is catalyzed by body secretions of that individual (Syrotuck 2000).  Tracking dogs are trained to follow the scent left by the actual tracks of the missing animal, while trailing dogs are trained to follow the greatest concentration of scent on the ground.  Since scent is also deposited in air currents from the animal, this scent may travel several feet to over 100 feet from where the animal actually walked.  Although there is technically a difference between tracking and trailing dogs, they are often both referred to as “tracking dogs” by the general public.  For simplicity, I will also refer to tracks or trails interchangeably, but if you were to study scent theory, you would find that there can be a lot of variation between the two.  Area detection dogs (e.g. air-scenting or cat detection dogs) are trained to search an area and locate the concentrated scent of any cat.  Ideally this scent is “air scent” coming off of the actual lost cat, but the dogs may also indicate on a scent pool such as under a deck where the cat hid for a while.  Both tracking/trailing dogs and area detection dogs are usually also trained to indicate on the scent of a deceased cat though some dogs are trained to specialize in just this task.  Most people tend to assume that a tracking/trailing dog is superior to an area detection dog, but once you understand the challenges of tracking a lost outdoor-access cat, you may find that this is not always the case.

Challenges of Tracking a Lost Outdoor-Access Cat that Disappears from His Home Range

Outdoor-access cats usually have a home range where they regularly travel and rest.  This may also be referred to as the cat’s territory though technically it is only truly a territory if the cat defends it from other non-resident cats.  For more information on cat home range size, read this article.  The following illustrations show a very simplified version of a cat’s home range and movements.  The first series of pictures (Tracks 1-6) show a cat regularly traveling around his home range culminating in Track 7, which shows all his travels for that week.

An example of a series of cat tracks throughout his home territory.
An example of a series of cat tracks throughout his home territory.
An example of a cat traveling around his home range for a full week.
An example of a cat traveling around his home range for a full week.  Older scent trails are light while newer ones are a darker blue.

If the cat then goes missing, you can now imagine how difficult it would be for a tracking or trailing dog to follow the scent trail of the missing cat.  A well trained dog can differentiate between an older and newer trail and direction of travel, but this is made more difficult with the many regularly traveled trails that will have an accumulation of scent and trails going in both directions.  The difficulty of locating the lost cat is often compounded by the lack of an uncontaminated scent article.  The scent article is an item that will be presented to the search dog so that they know what scent trail to follow.  Most cat owners have more than one cat or dogs in the home, and it can be very difficult to find an item that is unique to the missing cat (i.e. uncontaminated from other pet scents).  If the scent article also contains scents of other cats/dogs that go outside, then the search dog may also follow the numerous additional trails left by these pets.

How Different Probabilities Influence the Effectiveness of the Search Dog

When an outdoor-access cat goes missing from their home, there are different probability categories (or scenarios) for what might have happened to the lost cat.  These include: 1) Theft, 2) “Rescue” (i.e. when someone takes your cat because they think it is a stray), 3) Intentional Transport (e.g. a cat hating neighbor or angry ex-boyfriend kidnaps your cat and dumps him somewhere), 4) Unintentional Transport (e.g. your cat gets into the plumbers van), 5) Trapped (e.g. stuck in the neighbor’s shed), 6) Injury, Illness or Death (e.g. hiding because sick or injured or deceased due to illness or hit by car), 7) Wildlife Kill (i.e. victim of a predator attack), and 8) Displacement (e.g. chased out of their home range or otherwise leaves their home range). When an outdoor-access cat is lost away from home, this is a very different scenario and will be discussed in a future article.  In some search probabilities, specifically theft, rescue, or any type of transport, the tracking/trailing dog has no chance of successfully finding the lost cat because the cat has been removed by a person and there isn’t a scent trail to follow.  A search dog will also be unable to locate a cat outside if the cat is actually hiding or trapped inside the home, and this happens more frequently than people assume.

A tracking or trailing dog might be able to locate a missing cat within their home range (or just outside of it) if the cat is trapped somewhere outside, hiding and injured (such as from a severe cat fight or hit by a car) or deceased (such as hit by a car or killed by a predator).  An area detection dog can also be used to successfully locate a cat under most of these circumstances.  The picture below shows examples of where a cat might be located in each scenario.

Locations where a lost cat might be found within his own home range.
Locations where a lost cat might be found within his own home range.

Keep in mind that this is a very simplified scenario, and most cats will have a larger home range (usually 3 yards or more in each direction) which contains many more scent trails for the tracking/trailing dog to work through.  In neighborhoods where the houses are close together and fenced, a tracking/trailing dog will have a much more difficult time because he will be unable to follow the trails made by the cat since cats frequently climb under or over fences from yard to yard.  In these cases, an area search dog may be more effective to quickly check each yard for any sign of your cat.

Additional Challenges of Locating the Displaced Cat

One of the more common scenarios for a lost outdoor-access cat is that the cat has become displaced from his home range.  This may occur if he is new to the area and becomes lost or if he is scared out of his territory (such as by fireworks, construction, a loose dog, or another cat) and either becomes lost or is afraid to come back.  As much as we cat lover’s want to deny it, some “lost” cats will also choose to leave their homes when there is a significant change in the household such as a new baby, puppy or roommate.  Some cats are more sensitive than others and may leave due to a change in routine (such as a prolonged injury or illness of their owner) or even a small change in circumstances (such as a remodeled living room or change in brand of cat food).  In either case, the lost cat has left his home range and there may only be one scent trail leading to his new location.  The photo below shows an example of this scenario where the lost cat traveled to the neighbor’s home and got in a fight with their new cat and was chased across the busy road.

Map showing trails of a cat throughout their home range and a single trail leading away.
Map showing trails of a cat throughout their home range and a single trail leading away.

When a lost cat is displaced from their home range, it can be challenging for a tracking/trailing dog to work through all the scent trails and scent pools to find the one most recent track that leads away from their home.  This is made more difficult the longer the cat has been missing because the scent deposited throughout the home range might be an accumulation of years of scent while the trail leading out of the home range is only a single scent trail.  How long scent survives is a whole other discussion that I will blog about in a future article.  There has been some research that accumulated scent pools/trails may be viable for up to six months (Phillips 2006) while there is considerable debate on whether a single scent trail lasts for only 12 hours, a week or two, or even a month or more.  Personally I am skeptical of those who proclaim to track scents more than a month old.

If the search dog does successfully find the displaced cat’s scent trail, it is unlikely that they will actually locate the lost cat during the search.  These are referred to as “walk-up” finds and they usually only occur in less than 20% of searches and rates of only 5% or less are not uncommon.  Unless the lost cat is stationary (e.g. hiding, trapped, severely sick or injured or deceased), it is unlikely that the search dog will be able to find the exact location of the cat.  A cat that is being searched for by a dog will likely feel hunted and will evade the search dog team.  In fact, a well trained search dog team will likely stop the track for your lost cat if the search dog indicates that the scent is very fresh and the cat is likely nearby.  Using a search dog in this situation can provide some very useful information including where your cat went after leaving their home range and the area that they are currently hiding out.  This information can help you determine where to put up additional posters, distribute flyers, and perhaps set up a wildlife camera and/or humane trap.  Sadly, many people put all their hope (and often money) into hiring a tracking/trailing dog and then do not follow-up with the necessary search tactics after the search dog leaves.

Literature Cited

Jones, Phillip.  2006.  Scents and Sense-Ability.  Forensic Magazine (online edition).  April/May 2006.

Syrotuck, William G.  Scent and the Scenting Dog.  2000.  Barkleigh Productions, Inc.  Mechanicsville, PA.

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Regional Risk of Coyote Attacks on Pets

I have written several articles on coyotes killing cats and one on coyotes attacking dogs.

Coyote Pack in Yellowstone National Park
Coyote Pack in Yellowstone National Park in a parking lot near Tower Ranger Station

Most of these articles dispute the pervasive belief that the majority of missing cats and small dogs have become food for a coyote.  I believe that far more pets, especially cats, are never found because their owners do not know how to effectively search or give up too soon (often because their friends and neighbors convince them that their cat was killed by a predator).  In many locations a missing cat is much more likely to have become displaced (wandered or scared away from its home), become trapped (such as in a crawl space) or be hit by a car.  For more information see:

This is not to say that I believe that coyotes never kill cats.  Coyotes are an opportunistic and highly adaptable predator, and they will certainly kill cats on occasion.  In fact, in some parts of their geographic range, coyotes kill and probably eat a lot of cats.  

There is unfortunately very little research available on the occurrence of coyote attacks on pets, especially on a national level.  However, there is a fair amount of research on coyote attacks on humans, and the results from these studies suggest that far more cats and dogs are killed by coyotes in California than in any other state/province (Baker and Timm 1998; Timm et al. 2004; Timm 2006; White and Gehrt 2009).  The largest number of incidents occurred in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.  Other states/provinces that may show higher rates of coyote attacks on pets include Arizona, Nevada, British Columbia and Alberta.

The results from several studies suggest that far more cats and dogs are killed by coyotes in California than in any other state/province.  Other states/provinces that may show higher rates of coyote attacks on pets include Arizona, Nevada, British Columbia and Alberta.

Baker and Timm (1998) found that there is a predictable sequence of observed changes in coyote behavior that indicate an increasing risk to human safety.  Based on additional research, Timm et al. (2004) defined these changes in order of their pattern of occurrence as follows:

  1. An increase in observing coyotes on streets and in yards at night.
  2. An increase in coyotes approaching adults and/or taking pets at night.
  3. Early morning and late afternoon daylight observance of coyotes on streets and in parks and yards.
  4. Daylight observance of coyotes chasing or taking pets.
  5. Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or in close proximity to their owners; coyotes chasing joggers, bicyclists, and other adults.
  6. Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in mid-day.
  7. Coyotes acting aggressively towards adults during mid-day.

Since several of these predictors of coyote attacks on humans include attacks on pets, we should be able to safely conclude that states/provinces with more attacks on humans will likely have many more attacks on pets.  For example, Baker and Timm (1998) found that the following incidents preceded attacks on humans in southern California.

  • In the three weeks prior to three children being approached and bitten by coyotes (in separate incidents), USDA-ADC personnel received 30-40 complaints of coyotes attacking or killing household pets, or approaching people during daylight hours.  (San Diego County 1998)
  • Prior to an attack on a poodle snatched from his owner’s arms, coyotes had been seen in early and late mornings chasing and killing cats and rabbits in the neighborhood.  (Orange County 1991)
  • The attack on a child was preceded by 3-4 weeks of coyote attacks on two dogs and six house cats as reported to animal control.  (Orange County 1992)
  • Two to three months prior to the first attack on children, cat remains were found numerous times on the college campus.  Coyotes were also seen chasing and carrying off cats at night and early in the morning.  (Riverside County 1995)

There is some disagreement on what constitutes a coyote attack (Fox 2006; Webster 2007), so data from different studies do not report the same number of attacks per location, but all studies found high numbers of attacks in California. White and Gehrt (2009) found reports of 70 (49%) attacks in California followed distantly by 18 attacks (13%) in Arizona from 1960-2006 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Geographic distribution of coyote attacks in the United States and Canada during 1960-2006. White and Gehrt. 2009. Coyote Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14: 419-432.
Figure 1. Geographic distribution of coyote attacks in the United States and Canada during 1960-2006. (White and Gehrt. 2009. Coyote Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14: 419-432.)
Table 1. Number of coyote attacks by state or province, in which physical contact occurred from 1988-2006. (Timm. 2006. Coyotes Nipping At Our Heels: A New Suburban Dilemma. 11th Triennial National Wildlife & Fisheries Extension Specialists Conference. University of Nebraska - Lincoln. 139-145.
Table 1. Number of coyote attacks by state or province, in which physical contact occurred from 1988-2006. (Adapted from Timm. 2006. Coyotes Nipping At Our Heels: A New Suburban Dilemma. 11th Triennial National Wildlife & Fisheries Extension Specialists Conference. University of Nebraska – Lincoln. 139-145.

Timm and Baker (2004) reported 89 coyote incidents in California from 1978-2003, and Timm (2006) reported more than 160 human safety incidents in California involving coyotes since the early 1970s (Table 1).  Incidents of coyotes with rabies were excluded from this analysis.  Like White and Gehrt (2009), Timm (2006) also found that Arizona had a higher incidence of attacks, but found that Nevada and British Columbia were higher rather than Alberta.

One study on coyote predation on cats in southern California also supports a higher incidence of attacks on cats in this region of the country (Crooks and Soule 1999).  They found that 21% of 219 coyote scats contained cat remains.  Most studies on coyote diets found that cat remains were only present in 1-2% of coyote scats (including other studies in southern California and Arizona), with some as high as 6.7% (Schaumburg, Illinois) to 13.1% (western Washington) (see “Coyotes Don’t Eat Cats Very Often“).  Crooks and Soule (1999) also found that 25% of radio-collared cats in the study were killed by coyotes, and 42% of cat owners reported that coyotes had attacked or killed their cats.  Another study in Arizona found that cats constituted 42% of the diet of one pack of coyotes (Grubbs and Krausman 2009).

Even in states that don’t show a large number of human attacks (and therefore pet attacks), there may be smaller regions (e.g. even a single section of a town) where more cats and/or small dogs are being attacked by coyotes.  You may be able to determine the prevalence of coyote attacks in your area by doing an internet search for news reports or police logs of coyote attacks on pets or by calling your local Animal Control Officer or even talking to your neighbors.  However, be skeptical of all reports where a coyote attack is assumed just because a cat or small dog went missing and the event wasn’t witnessed and no remains were found.  According to Timm’s et al. (2004) sequence of changes in coyote behavior that indicate an increased risk to human safety, frequent reports of daylight observations of coyotes may be another warning sign.  See  “Understanding Coyote Behavior in Urban/Suburban Areas and Assessing Risks to Cats” to assess the risk of a missing cat being killed by coyotes.

Baker and Timm (1998) speculate that the coyotes’ “recent adaptation to urban and suburban habitats in places such as southern California has taken place over several generations, and such adaptation may involve learned behaviors passed from parent to offspring.” Based on dietary studies of coyotes, cats are not generally a common prey item, and preying on cats may be a specialized or learned behavior.  If this were the case, then we would only expect to see high rates of attacks on cats in certain regions.  In a small area such as town, this could be the result of a single coyote that has learned to specialize in killing cats.  However, it is possible for a solitary coyote or pack to have a home range that encompasses several towns (Fox 2006), which could lead to a larger area of attacks by a single coyote.  This type of issue would be similar to “problem individuals” of wolves or coyotes killing livestock (Linnell et al. 1999).  When seen in a larger area such as regions of southern California, the cat killing behavior is likely an adaption to urban life and is probably being taught to successive generations of coyotes.

Literature Researched

Baker, R.O. and R.M. Timm.  1998.  Management of Conflicts Between Urban Coyotes and Humans in Southern California.  Proceedings of the 18th Annual Vertebrate Pest Conference.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  299-312.

Crooks, K.R. and M.E. Soule.  1999.  Mesopredator release and avifaunal extinctions in a fragmented system.  Nature 400: 563-566.

Fox, C.H.  2006.  Coyotes and Humans: Can We Coexist?  Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Vertebrate Pest Conference.  University of California – Davis.  287-293.

Gehrt, Stanley and Seth P.D. Riley.  2010.  Coyotes (Canis latrans)” in Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation. Gehrt, Stanley, D., Seth P.D. Riley, and Brian L. Cypher, editors.  The John Hopkins University Press.

Gehrt, S.D., C. Anchor, and L.A. White.  2009.  Home Range and Landscape Use of Coyotes in a Metropolitan Landscape: Conflict or Coexistence?  Journal of Mammalogy 90(5): 1045-1057.

Gehrt, Stanley.  2006.  Urban coyote ecology and management – The Cook County,Illinois coyote project.  Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 929.  32 pp.

Gompper, M.E.  2002.   Top Carnivores in the Suburbs?  Ecological and Conservation Issues Raised by the Colonization of North-eastern North America by Coyotes.  BioScience 52(2): 185-190.

Grubbs, Shannon E. and Paul R. Krausman.  2009.  Observations of Coyote – Cat Interactions.  Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5): 683-685.

Howell, R.G.  1982.  The Urban Coyote Problem in Los Angeles County.  Proceedings of the 10th Annual Vertebrate Pest Conference.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  21-23.

Linnell, J.D.C., J. Odden, M.E. Smith, R. Aanes, and J.E. Swenson.  1999.  Large carnivores that kill livestock: do “problem individuals” really exist?  Wildlife Society Bulletin 27(3): 698-705.

Timm, R.M.  2006.  Coyotes Nipping At Our Heels: A New Suburban Dilemma.  11th Triennial National Wildlife & Fisheries Extension Specialists Conference.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  139-145.

Timm, R.M. and R.O. Baker.  2004.  Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem.  Proceedings of the 21st Vertebrate Pest Conference.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  47-57.

Webster, J.C.  2007.  Missing Cats, Stray Coyotes: One Citizen’s Perspective.  Wildlife Damage Management Conferences Proceedings.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  74-116.

White, L.A. and S.D. Gehrt.  2009.  Coyote Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14: 419-432.


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Risky Behaviors of Outdoor-access Cats

In a joint project by National Geographic and the University of Georgia, outdoor-access house cats were fitted with Kitty Cams, small video cameras that attach to the cat’s collar, to learn about the secretive behavior of  free-roaming cats.  Data were collected on 55 outdoor-access house cats in Athens, Georgia, from November 2010 to October 2011.  Only 12-15 cats were monitored per season, and each cat contributed 7-10 days of video (average of 37 hours per cat).  Unfortunately, none of this research has been published in a scientific research journal at this time, but some of their results can be viewed on their website: The National Geographic and University of Georgia Kitty Cams (Crittercam) Project.

The primary focus of the research was cat predation on wildlife, but they also analyzed some potentially risky behaviors of outdoor-access cats.  Potential risks of being outdoors include road-traffic accidents, aggression from other cats, poison, disease, parasites, and contact with domestic dogs or wild predators.  Here is a summary of the risky behaviors they observed.

Indicates the number of times each risky behavior was observed on the Kitty Cam of any cat, the number of cats in the study who engaged in each behavior at least once (total=55), and the percent of study cats who engaged in each behavior.
Two cats face-off over a bowl of cat food. The cat on the left is an owned cat and the one on the right is feral.

Interestingly, they did not observe any aggressive direct contact between cats or with other domestic animals.  Neither did they observe any predatory attacks on cats by wild animals though one cat did chase off an opossum.  However, interactions with strange cats were fairly common (25% of cats), and these interactions could include hissing, spitting and growling.  Aggressive interactions with other cats may cause a resident cat to leave its territory.  This did not happen during the study, but two cats did go missing before the study started.  Statistical analyses revealed that cats were significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviors if they were male (P=0.015) or lived in a suburban (vs rural) area (P=0.033).  Frequency of risky behaviors also decreased with age (P=0.001) and increased with time spent outdoors (P=0.000).

Crossing roads was by far the most frequently observed risky behavior accounting for 67% of observed risky behaviors.  Therefore, the group of cats that is most likely to engage in risky behaviors (young males) is probably crossing roads more than anything else.  Another study (see below) found that young male cats were also significantly more likely to be hit by a car.  No cats were hit during the study, but one was killed shortly before it started.

The researchers were surprised to find that four of the cats visited a second home for food or affection.  While this does not directly effect the cat’s welfare, it can increase the probability that the cat will go missing from his original home if the second family takes him in.  Adoption of (assumed) stray cats is fairly common with 20-45% of cat owning households acquiring their cat this way.  Prior to the start of this study, two cats were lost, and what happened to them was either never determined or just never reported by the researchers.

For more information on these topics, check out the following articles:

Factors that May Predispose Cats to Road Traffic Accidents

Adoption of Stray Cats and the Importance of Lost Pet Posters

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Factors that May Predispose Cats to Road Traffic Accidents

Tomcat with healed leg fracture.

Road traffic accidents (RTAs) are a common cause of injury and death for outdoor-access cats.  Olsen and Allen (2001) found that 51% of outdoor-access cats that suddenly and unexpectedly died were the result of RTAs, and Rochlitz et al. (2001) found that RTAs were the forth most common cause of death for cats after old age, cancer, and renal failure.  Based on the results of this study, Rochlitz (2003) conducted a more in-depth study to determine which factors may predispose cats to being involved in a RTA.  This study is particularly interesting because the results can be used to improve behavioral profiling of lost outdoor-access cats.

The cat’s age and sex were the two most important factors in determining whether s/he would be involved in a RTA.  Cats between the ages of 7 months to 2 years were most likely to be in a RTA and cats 6 years or older were less likely.  Overall, the likelihood of being in a RTA decreased by 16% for every year increase in the cat’s age.  Rochlitz (2003) suggests that this may be due to changes in the behavior of cats as they get older such as spending more time indoors, staying closer to home, and being more cautious.  Male cats were more than twice as likely to be involved in a RTA as female cats.  Due to small sample size, Rochlitz (2003) was unable to determine whether being spayed or neutered was a significant factor.  However, other studies have found that un-neutered male cats have much larger home ranges than neutered males or spayed or un-spayed females, which suggests they might be more likely to be in a RTA.  Rochlitz (2003) was unable to determine why males in general were more likely to be in a RTA than females, but males were found to spend more time outdoors than female cats.

The cat’s pedigree also effected whether s/he might be involved in a RTA.  Pedigree cats, mostly Siamese, Persian and Burmese in this study, were less than a third as likely to be hit by a car as domestic short-hair/long-hair cats or mixed breed cats.  The difference in risk for pedigree cats may be partly due to differences in the owner’s behavior and the cat’s behavior such as owners interacting with their cats more and cats spending more time indoors.

Other factors that were significant included traffic levels and whether the cat wore a reflective collar.  Cats were less likely to be in a RTA in areas with very low to low traffic levels and more likely to be in a RTA in areas with below-average to average traffic levels.  Strangely, cats living in areas with above-average to high traffic levels were not more or less likely to be hit by a car.  Another puzzling outcome of the study was that cats wearing reflective collars were more likely to be in a RTA.  Rochlitz (2003) was unable to determine a reason for this observation.

Almost equally important as the significant factors, Rochlitz (2003) also found that some factors did not influence whether a cat would in a RTA.  These factors included: coat color, whether the cat was allowed outside at night, season, the amount of time spent outside, and the time lived at an address.  Contrary to what was expected, dark colored cats and cats that were let outside at night, were not more likely to be hit by a car.  This particular study was conducted in Cambridge, UK, and surrounding towns, so the lack of seasonal differences may not be generalized to other areas of the world with different climates.  While amount of time spent outside was not independently linked to an increased risk of a RTA, cats in the high risk categories (i.e. young cats, male cats, and mixed-breed cats) all spent more time outside.  Time lived at an address was also strongly linked to the age of the cat and how much time s/he spent outdoors.  The sample of older cats that had moved (3) was really too small to determine if this was an influencing factor.

Rochlitz (2003) also attempted to measure some of the characteristics of RTAs.  Most RTAs (69%-80%) occurred just outside or very near the cat’s home.  However, this data may be biased because cats that were involved in RTAs farther from home may be less likely to be found by their owners’ and brought to a vet.  Rochlitz (2003) also attempted to determine what time of day/night most RTAs took place, but this analysis was inconclusive due to the large number of unknowns (47% of accidents).

Road traffic accidents are frequently a concern when an outdoor-access cat goes missing.  The results of this study help identify young (7 month – 2 years), male, mixed-breed cats as the highest risk group for RTAs.  Missing cats that fall into these categories should prompt a thorough search of the area around the home and immediate neighbor’s homes in case the missing cat has been involved in a RTA.  The results of this study also show that only 25% of cats involved in a RTA ended up dying.  These results may be somewhat biased since owners are probably less likely to bring a dead cat to the veterinarian, but they still show that many cats do survive being hit by a car.  This highlights the importance of thoroughly searching for the missing cat in case it is injured and hiding in silence.  More research needs to be conducted on the behavior of cats immediately after they have been in a RTA in order to improve our ability to find them.

To view a more detailed summary of Rochlitz’s (2003) two studies, follow this link to A Summary of a Study of Factors that may Predispose Domestic Cats to Road Traffic Accidents.

Literature Cited

Olsen, Tammy and Andrew Allen.  2001.  Causes of sudden and unexpected death in cats: a 10-year retrospective studyCanadian Veterinary Journal 42: 61-62.

Rochlitz, I., T. De Wit, and D.M. Broom.  2001.  A pilot study on the longevity and causes of death of cats in Britain.  Cheltenham, BSAVA Congress Clinical Research Abstracts. p.528.

Rochlitz, I.  2003.  Study of factors that may predispose domestic cats to road traffic accidents.  Part 1.  The Veterinary Record 153: 549-553 & Part 2: The Veterinary Record 153: 585-588.

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Causes of Sudden Death in Cats

When an outdoor-access cat goes missing from its home range, this frequently means that something has happened to the cat to prevent it from returning home.  Death, injury or illness may all prevent a cat from returning home.  When sick or injured, a cat may hide within its home range and may die if not found.  This behavior has been observed in both outdoor-access and indoor-only cats.  Understanding the frequency of different causes of death in owned cats (particularly sudden death where the owner does not know that the cat is sick or injured), may help us better determine priority areas to search for a missing cat.

Olsen and Allen (2001) conducted a study on sudden and unexpected causes of death for cats in a city of over 200,000 people and surrounding towns in Saskatchewan, Canada. During a 10-year period, one large veterinary facility treated 994 cats of which 79 (8%) were brought in for autopsies by their owners because they died suddenly and unexpectedly.  Of these 79 cats, 49 (62%) were outdoor-access, 11 (14%) were indoor-only, and 19 (24%) were unknown.

Table 1. Underlying causes of sudden and unexpected deaths in 79 cats.

Table 1 shows the relative frequency of different causes of sudden death.  By far the most frequent cause of sudden death (34%) was attributed to trauma caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs).   All but two of the RTA deaths were outdoor-access cats, so that means that 51% (25 out of 49 total) of outdoor-access cat deaths were due to RTAs.  Other types of death due to trauma were 3 dog bites and 1 gun shot.

Heart disease (20%), primarily hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, was the second most frequent cause of sudden death followed by intestinal disease (8%).  Five of the 6 cases of intestinal disease were under six months old and died of enteritis due to feline panleukopenia.  Surprisingly, three of these kittens were indoor-only.  Respiratory disease accounted for 6% of deaths; three of these cats died of pneumonia and were 2-10 months old.  The other two cats died from breathing obstructions.

Urinary tract diseases (5%) were more likely to occur in older cats.  Three cats aged 8, 10, and 18 years died of renal disease.  One 6 year old cat died of a urethral obstruction.  This is unusual only because urinary obstructions usually have visible symptoms such as frequent urination or straining prior to death.  Diseases associated with feline leukemia virus (FeLV: 4%) were the last relatively frequent cause of sudden death.  All three FeLV-related deaths were outdoor-access cats.  The remaining four causes of sudden death all accounted for few cats (1% each).  The cause of death could not be determined in 13% of cases.

In this particular study, road traffic accidents accounted for a high percentage of deaths (51% of outdoor-access cats autopsied).  This number is even likely to be an underestimate because the data were collected from autopsy reports.  If a cat was obviously hit by a car, its owner would probably be less likely to go through the expense of getting the body autopsied.  There were also no cases of poisoning or death by predators, besides the three presumed dog bites.  However, predator deaths may also be underestimated since these bodies are less likely to be recovered.

Unfortunately, since Olsen and Allen (2001) did not collect data on the entire population of cats in the study area, it is not possible to determine whether certain characteristics (e.g. age, sex, access to outdoors, etc.) may predispose cats to different causes of sudden death.  In upcoming blog posts, I intend to focus on the most common causes of sudden death and find out what is known about them.  The first paper I’m going to review is a very informative study on the factors that may predispose domestic cats to road traffic accidents.

Olsen, Tammy and Andrew Allen.  2001.  Causes of sudden and unexpected death in cats: a 10-year retrospective studyCanadian Veterinary Journal 42: 61-62.

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Coyotes Don’t Eat Cats Very Often

Most studies of urban/suburban coyotes have found that coyotes in these areas relied predominantly on natural food sources rather than human generated food such as trash, domestic animals, pet food, and domestic fruit (Gerht and Riley 2010; Morey et al. 2007).  The most common food items were leporids (rabbits) and rodents and occasionally deer or fruit.  However, coyotes in more urbanized areas, did consume more human generated food than their rural counterparts (2% to 35%: Gerht and Riley 2010).  Of particular concern to owners’ of lost or outdoor-access cats is how frequently coyotes eat cats.  Based on observations of coyotes in Tuscan, Arizona, Grubbs and Krausman (2009) reported the alarming find that cats constituted 42% of coyote diets.  However, the majority of studies of urban coyotes have found that cats occurred in only 1%- 2% or less of coyote diets (Gerht 2006; Gerht and Riley 2010; Morey et al. 2007).  In a few studies, cat remains were found in larger frequencies.  Morey et al. (2007) found that  6.7% of scats contained cat in the site with the most urban development.  Quinn’s (1997) study in western Washington found a higher percentage of cat remains in coyote scat with an average of 7.8%.  In the residential study area, cat was the most abundant mammalian food item at 13.1% though fruit was considerably more common for all items (42.6%).  However, Quinn (1997) only recorded the “dominant” prey item for each scat, which would lead to greater representation for those items (i.e. if a scat contained mostly cat hair and only one mouse, he only recorded the cat remains for that scat).  In the highest incidence of coyote predation on cats, Crooks and Soule (1999) found that 21% of 219 coyote scats contained cat remains.  This study took place in southern California were attacks on cats may be the highest in the US.

The difference between Grubbs and Krausman’s (2009) study and the other research studies is that their estimates were based on a small number of observations (45) of coyotes consuming prey or fruit while the majority of food habits studies assess coyote diets by analyzing scat (feces).  Scat analysis is most commonly reported as percent occurrence, which can be measured with one of several methods.  The most common methods (a) measure percent occurrence as the number of occurrences of a diet item/ total number of occurrences of all diet items or (b) measure occurrence as the number of scats with an item/ total number of scats analyzed.  In the case of (b), the percentages will often not add up to 100% because some scats contain more than one diet item.  For example, if the percent occurrence of rodents was 30%, then either (a) 30% of the total items consumed by coyotes were rodents or (b) 30% of all scats analyzed contained rodent remains.

Although scat analysis is a convenient way to study dietary habits, it does have some well known errors.  Percent occurrence is biased by the size of the prey consumed such that larger prey items are overrepresented.  For example, if a coyote eats a mouse, the entire mouse will be present in one scat, but when a coyote eats a deer, the same deer may be present in several scats resulting in a higher percent occurrence for deer even though the same number of mice and deer were consumed.  It is also not possible to determine whether prey items consumed were killed by the predator or scavenged from an already dead animal.  Lastly, if coyotes are killing cats but not consuming them (as might occur in interspecific competition), then scat analysis would under-represent the number of cats being killed.  However, Grubbs and Krausman (2009) found that coyotes consumed cats in 18 out of 19 observed kills, and the coyote only left the one cat uneaten because it was disturbed by a person.  Given my personal experience studying coyotes in Yellowstone National Park, I also find it hard to believe that coyotes would not consume any animal that they killed or found dead.  In contrast, wolves would frequently kill coyotes but not consume them.

For more information on coyote predation on cats, check out these articles “Observations of Coyote Predation on Cats” and “More Observations on Coyote – Cat Interactions: what can we learn?”  I have also created a file that contains this discussion and the diet analysis research tables from several studies.

Review of Coyote Predation on Cats Based on Diet Analysis Studies

If you find yourself strongly disagreeing with this article, then you may live in an area where coyotes do indeed eat more cats.  If you are concerned that your cat may have been killed by a coyote, then you should read this article: “Understanding Coyote Behavior in Urban/Suburban Areas and Assessing Risk to Cats.”

Literature Cited

Crooks, K.R. and M.E. Soule.  1999.  Mesopredator release and avifaunal extinctions in a fragmented system.  Nature 400: 563-566.

Grubbs, Shannon E. and Paul R. Krausman.  2009.  Observations of Coyote – Cat Interactions.  Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5): 683-685.

Morey, Paul S. , Eric M. Gese, and Stanley Gehrt.  2007.  Spatial and Temporal Variation in the Diet of Coyotes in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.   American Midland Naturalist 158: 147-161.

Gehrt, Stanley and Seth P.D. Riley.  2010.  “Coyotes (Canis latrans)” in Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation. Gehrt, Stanley, D., Seth P.D. Riley, and Brian L. Cypher, editors.  The John Hopkins University Press.

Gehrt, Stanley D.  2006.  Urban Coyote Ecology and ManagementOhio State University Extension Bulletin 929. 32 pp.

Quinn, Timothy.  1997.  Coyote Food Habits in Three Urban Habitat Types of Western Washington.  Northwest Science 71(1): 1-5.

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Cat Research Study Overview

Before covering additional topics on cat behavior, I wanted to take a moment to review cat research in general.  Although the cat is the most popular pet in the US, there is surprisingly little research on its natural behavior.  So far I have only been able to find five research studies that focus on the home range, movements, and activity patterns of outdoor-access cats in suburban neighborhoods (Barratt 1997, Kay and DeWan 2004, Meek 2003, Morgan et al. 2009, and Schmidt et al. 2007).  Two of these studies were conducted in the US, two in Australia, and one in New Zealand.  There are significantly more research studies that have been conducted on free-ranging cats.  Free-ranging cats may be feral, semi-feral, stray, farm, or perhaps lost cats.  I have compiled a bibliography with abstracts (i.e. research summaries) when available for all the research studies that I have found so far.  I will continue to update this document as I conduct more literature research.

Research Studies on the Behavior of Outdoor-Access and Free-Ranging Domestic Cats:  Bibliography with Abstracts

If you are interested in learning more about cat behavior, I would also recommend the following books:

Turner, Dennis. C., and Patrick. Bateson, editors. 2000.  The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.  (This is the best compilation of cat research studies to date, but it is so dense that it can be difficult to read.)

Tabor, Roger.  2003.  Understanding Cat Behavior.  F&W Publications Inc.  (This book is an easy read, but still informative.)

Johnson-Bennett, Pam.  2004.  Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat. Penguin Books.  (While not research study based, this book offers useful insights into cat social behavior.  It also has very good information on how to reintroduce a cat back into a multi-cat household, which could be useful for people who find their lost cats.)

There are many other books available on cats, but most focus on how to take care of a cat or how to fix cat behavior problems.  Keep in mind that just because something about cat behavior is published in a book, it doesn’t necessarily make it true.  People can pretty much write anything that they want in books and even people that may be experts on cat behavior problems, don’t necessarily have a good understanding of cat biology.  In contrast, all scientific journal articles must be reviewed and edited by other scientists in the author’s field of research before they are published.

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More Observations on Coyote-Cat Interactions: What Can We Learn?

This post relates to the earlier post “Observations of Coyote Predation on Cats.”  Although it may sound like I’m criticizing Grubbs and Krausman’s (2009) study, I’m not saying that we should disregard the results entirely.  As I said earlier, this is a fascinating research study and the only published study on observations of coyote-cat interactions.  I just think that it should be viewed in the context of observations of coyote-cat behavior in a coyote pack that may specialize in killing cats.  Some of the patterns of behavior observed may be useful when gauging the relative risk of lost or outdoor cats to coyote predation.  For example, Grubbs and Krausman (2009) found that 69% of interactions and 68% of kills occurred during the pup rearing season (May-August).  These results could be due to the increased pressure on the adult coyotes to feed a fast growing litter of hungry pups.  Only 8% of interactions and 5% of kills took place during the breeding season (Jan-Feb).  I’m curious whether the same trends would be observed in an area of the country that experiences harsher winters than Arizona.  They also found that most interactions (86%) and kills (84%) took place between sunrise and sunset.  Jon Way et al. (2004) found that coyotes in suburban Massachusetts showed a preference to be active mostly during dawn, dusk, and especially at night, but that breeding females were active at all hours during the time they were nursing pups (April-June).  In general, this supports the theory that outdoor-access cats that initially go missing during the day are less likely to be the victim of a coyote attack.

Some other results of Grubbs and Krausman’s (2009) study raise more questions than answers.  For example, they found that 18 of 19 killed cats were at least partially consumed.  I would really like to know whether the coyotes consumed the cats at the location of the kill or whether they carried them to a different location or to the den.  This would be useful to help determine the likelihood of finding the remains of a coyote-killed cat within the cat’s home range?  Way et al. (2001) studied characteristics of coyote dens in suburban Massachusetts and found that den sites were devoid of prey remains and adult coyote scat.  However, in late-May to mid-June the pups were moved from the den to a series of rendezvous sites (i.e. a safe location where pups are left while most of the adults are away hunting), and Way et al. (2001) does not mention whether prey remains were present at these sites. (I am going to conduct further research into the characteristics of rendezvous sites.)

Grubbs and Krausman (2009) also found that in 28% of coyote-cat interactions, the coyote chased the cat.  This was the second most common coyote-cat interaction followed by 17% of cats standing their ground or chasing coyotes.  A surprising number of lost outdoor-access cats are found within a mile or two from where they originally went missing and sometimes even years after they went missing (see Lost Cats Found blog for examples).  The general assumption is that most of these cats were displaced from their familiar home range and were then unable to find their way home.  Causes of displacement might be territorial aggression from another cat or being chased by a dog or wild animal.  I would be really curious to find out if they measured how far the cats ran and the behavior of the cat after the chase ended.  I may try and get in touch with Grubbs or Krausman and see if they have additional information that they would be willing to share.

Video of a cat fending off two coyotes and eventually escaping up a tree.  (If your cat is missing, I wouldn’t suggest watching this.  It’s a close call for the brave cat.)

Literature Cited

Grubbs, Shannon E. and Paul R. Krausman.  2009.  Observations of Coyote – Cat Interactions.  Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5): 683-685.

Way, Jonathan G., Issac M. Ortega, and Eric G. Strauss.  2004.  Movement and Activity Patterns of Eastern Coyotes in a Coastal, Suburban  Environment.  Northeastern Naturalist 11(3): 237-254.

Way, Jonathan G., Peter J. Auger, Issac M. Ortega, and Eric G. Strauss.  2001.  Eastern Coyote Denning Behavior in an Anthropogenic Environment.  Northeast Wildlife 56: 18-30.

For anyone who is interested, many of Jonathan Way’s research papers are available from the publications page of his website: Eastern Coyote Research.

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Observations of Coyote Predation on Cats

Coyote sitting in road in winter

In 2009 Grubbs and Krausman published a study on “Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions,” which was then dubbed “Coyotes Eat Cats!” by the media.  This is a very interesting study since it is the only published research on direct observations of coyote-cat interactions.  However, I’m skeptical that this high level of coyote predation on cats is typical of coyotes in general.

The full article is available on Harris Environmental Group Inc., and I have posted a summary of their results:  Summary of Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions.

The research study was conducted from December 2005 to November 2006 in two residential neighborhoods and a golf course in Tuscan, Arizona.  Grubbs and Krausman observed 36 coyote–cat interactions, 19 of which resulted in coyotes killing cats. Most cats were killed in residential areas from 10pm to 5am during the pup-rearing season (May – August).   In interactions where the coyote(s) did not kill the cat, most resulted in the coyote(s) chasing the cat.  They also found that one coyote was as likely to kill a cat as a pack of coyotes, and coyotes frequently (at least partially) consumed the cats that they killed.  They observed 45 instances of coyotes consuming prey and fruit composed of 42% cats, 33.3% rodents, 17.8% lagamorphs (rabbits), 2.2% birds, and 6.6% dates.

At first glance this study presents a grim picture for any cat lost or living in potential coyote habitat.  Cats in this study had a 53% chance of being killed during each interaction with a coyote, and they had about a 10% chance of encountering a coyote on any given day.  However, before we all give up hope on lost cats and assume they were eaten by coyotes, we need to look at this study in more detail and also at the bigger picture.  One major limitation of this study is the very small sample size.  Grubbs and Krausman only radio-collared 8 coyotes and 6 of these belonged to a single pack.  One coyote, the alpha male of the pack, was involved in 14 coyote-cat interactions and 12 of these resulted in kills.  That means the alpha male alone (or with other pack members) was responsible for 63% of cat kills, and a cat had an 86% chance of being killed if s/he encountered the alpha male compared to a 32% chance with the other pack members.

Predation by wolves and coyotes on other domestic (farm) animals is usually a learned behavior, and targeted removal of offending animals is more effective than general population reduction (for more information, check out the publication Coyotes in our Midst by Project Coyote).  Jonathan Way (2007), founder of Eastern Coyote Research, believes that individual coyotes may become adept at or even specialize at catching a particular prey species where they are locally abundant.  The fact that the alpha male coyote of the pack in this study was involved in such a high percentage of cat kills, suggests that this coyote may have specialized in cat predation and taught the rest of the pack as well.

A coyote shows up at a feeding station for a lost cat

There is also some indication that coyotes in Arizona and California may be bolder than coyotes in many other regions of North America.  White and Gehrt (2009) conducted an analysis of coyote attacks on humans in the US and Canada from 1960-2006 and found that nearly half (49%) of 142 recorded attacks occurred in California followed by 13% in Arizona.

In contrast to this study, the majority of research on coyote food habits has found that the occurrence of domestic cat in coyote diets was only 1%-2% (Gehrt and Riley 2010).  Quinn (1997) has published the highest occurrence of cats in coyote diets and that was only 13% for an urban area in Washington state.  In a future blog post, I intend to look at these food habit studies in more detail along with their usefulness and limitations.

When I counsel my own clients who have lost their cat in potential coyote habitat, I advise them not to give up hope unless they find remains that they can positively identify as their lost cat.  I am only really concerned about coyote predation when numerous cats go missing from the same general area and especially if the client also finds partially consumed remains of other cats in their search for their own cat.  Sure, coyotes do kill cats, but I believe that many more cats are never found because their owners’ assume they are dead and give up searching much too soon.

Literature Cited

Gehrt, Stanley and Seth P.D. Riley.  2010.  Coyotes (Canis latrans)” in Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation. Gehrt, Stanley, D., Seth P.D. Riley, and Brian L. Cypher, editors.  The John Hopkins University Press.

Grubbs, Shannon E. and Paul R. Krausman.  2009.  Observations of Coyote – Cat Interactions.  Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5): 683-685.

Quinn, Timothy.  1997.  Coyote Food Habits in Three Urban Habitat Types of Western Washington. Northwest Science 71(1): 1-5.

Way, Jonathan G. and Marc Bekoff.  2007.  Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts.  Dog Ear Publishing, LLC.

White, Lynsey A. and Stanley D. Gehrt.  2009.  Coyote Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14: 419-32.