How to keep your cats safe from coyotes
If you live in the country,
you may feel that your cats are safe from some of the things that are the greatest threats to cats, such as moving cars. Country life,
however, has its own set of “pet threats”—including wild animals. And clashes between wildlife and pets often end in heartache for the pet
Coyotes (more common in the
Western US) are becoming alarmingly unafraid of humans, with daytime sightings becoming more frequent. The consolation—if there is any—is
that, compared to a car accident, dog attack, or abduction by a person with evil intentions, death by coyote is quick and, as far as we know,
relatively suffering-free. Coyotes kill to eat, and they do it efficiently.
Still, it is heartbreaking
to lose a cherished pet, and it is our responsibility to take care of them.
Coyotes are difficult to
eradicate. Trapping and relocating coyotes is not as good an idea as it may sound, as any young coyotes orphaned by this process will seek
easy prey—e.g., our pets. They can be frightened, however, so if you see one, try shaking a noisemaker (like a can full of hardware) or
throwing things at it. Fire a Super Soaker (high-powered toy water gun) filled with water or vinegar.
More often, though, we
don’t see them lurking around our property, as they are naturally nocturnal. The key to keeping coyotes away from your home (and your pets,
your children, and you) is to eliminate all that attracts coyotes—mainly food. Coyotes are generalists, meaning they’ll eat just about
With that in
Keep your cats (and small dogs) indoors at
night. If you have medium and large dogs, keep them in too. Coyotes hunting in packs can take down a fairly big animal. And although
ExquisiteKitty.com is a site devoted to cats, I’m going to tell you that rabbits, chickens, etc. that are kept outdoors also need
protection: strong fencing with a top, and/or a small enclosure inside it that they can hide in.
Be careful with your birdfeeders. Place them
close to your house, and clean up spills. Do not feed squirrels, deer, or other wildlife. Any naturalist will tell you that birds are
the only wild critters we should feed.
your cats wear
bells on their collars, take them off. The same bells that supposedly alert birds to your cats’ presence also betray their
whereabouts to coyotes. (Once you’ve cleaned up the birdseed, you’ll have fewer birds
within your cats’ reach, anyway.) One final
consideration: cats who wear bells learn to be stealthier hunters, which leaves us with
no reason that cats should ever wear bells.
Consider a fence. The type of fencing will
need to be one that deters climbing and is in accordance with any CC&Rs that apply to your neighborhood; at least six feet tall
and extending six inches below ground. Some clever person has invented a “roll fence”; it has a rolling piece at the top, which keeps
your cats from climbing out, or any uninvited guests from climbing in. As they try to grasp the top bar, it rolls. Wild critters stay
out, tame ones in, and you and your pets live happily ever after.
If you enjoy life in a rural environment, good for you. But you need to be aware of the reality that wild critters
want to make an easy meal of your pets. If you live in coyote country, your best bet is to make them feel so unwelcome in civilization that
they’ll pack up their families and move back to the wilderness.
©Lisa J. Lehr