Do Coyotes Eat Cats? (Risks & Safety Tips)

Do Coyotes Eat Cats

It’s possible that a coyote will eat or kill a cat, yes. It’s not that common, however, and coyotes prefer to hunt smaller mammals that are easier to catch and eat such as rabbits, mice, and other rodents.

In this article, we’re looking at what risks and threats coyotes pose, signs you have coyotes in your area, and how to better protect your cat while outdoors!

Do Coyotes Eat Cats or Just Kill Them?

As a cat owner, you are likely always thinking about your cat’s wellbeing, which is normal for a caring cat owner.

One thing we always need to be mindful of when allowing our cats outside are predators – like coyotes.

Native to North America and found within a range of human-populated areas across most US states, if you know there are coyotes running wild in your state you need to be aware of this risk.

Even though cats are pretty self-sufficient and can defend themselves in many situations, coyotes are much larger and faster than cats and can easily overpower them.

In addition, the fact that coyotes, like dogs, run in packs, only increases any potential danger for a cat roaming outside at night.

Coyotes will not only kill cats, but they will often eat them, as well. This can be disturbing and make you reluctant to allow your cat to spend time outside.

However, if your cat is used to going outside at times, it will continue to have the desire to go out for exploration, regardless of potential dangers.

Fortunately, cats are fast and can climb trees, which can increase their chances of escaping a coyote’s clutches before it’s killed.

It’s not that comforting to know, but killing and eating a cat isn’t typically a coyote’s first choice. They prefer eating fruit, and smaller rodents like mice and rats.

Nevertheless, coyotes are opportunistic animals, and if a pack of coyotes happens to encounter a cat, they will likely kill it and eat it just because it’s available.

Related Risks possums pose to cats and what you can do about it.

How to Keep Coyotes Away From Cats

To prevent your cat from being attacked by coyotes, you need to keep coyotes away. How can you keep coyotes away from cats?

First, you will rarely, if ever, see a coyote, and if you do see one, it will be at night. Coyotes are nocturnal animals, and they sleep during the day and explore and hunt for food at night.

One way to keep coyotes away from your cat is to keep kitty indoors during the nighttime hours.

If your cat is strictly an outdoor cat, you will need to create some alternate ways of ensuring his safety.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to attract coyotes by leaving your cat’s food and water out in the open.

In fact, cats don’t have a problem climbing, so the higher you can put your cat’s food off the ground, the better.

Another way to keep coyotes away from your cat is to install a high fence around the perimeter of your backyard.

Coyotes can’t climb fences, so this is a great way to keep your cat safe. Also, even if your cat lives strictly outdoors, you can build a predator-proof enclosure for him outside.

Not only will this keep Kitty safe, but it will increase his comfort, as well. If you don’t have an outdoor haven for your cat, you can try bringing him inside your house at night, but most outdoor cats will object to being inside because it feels strange for them.

Do Coyotes Kill Cats Quickly?

It can be incredibly distressing to think about a coyote killing your cat or any other cat in your neighborhood.

Unfortunately, when coyotes’ preferred food source is unavailable, coyotes will resort to extreme measures, like eating cats if necessary.

However, if a coyote does manage to kill a cat, you might wonder if it kills cats quickly so the cat will suffer as little as possible.

When coyotes attack, they attack with extremely rapid precision and force, and they aim right for the neck areas of most prey, which is where the windpipe is.

This type of attack typically results in an almost immediate death due to suffocation and shock.

While it’s certainly not comforting to think about your cat being viciously attacked by a coyote, at least your cat’s suffering will be minimal, due to the way coyotes kill.

You might want to consider protecting your cat by investing in a bite-proof suit. It sounds a little crazy, but you wouldn’t be the first person to do this.

These safety suits protect the throat and torso areas, which greatly increases your cat’s chances of surviving a brutal coyote attack.

Of course, the suit isn’t a guarantee that your cat won’t be killed by a coyote or some other animal, but it can dramatically improve his chances of escaping with nothing more than non-life-threatening injuries.

Do Coyotes Eat Cat Heads?

It is hard to say whether coyotes eat cats’ heads or not. One way to look at this is that the average coyote requires about 4 lbs of food each day, and the average cat weighs about 10 lbs.

A coyote that hasn’t eaten in a while will likely eat the entire cat, especially if the cat is on the smaller side.

For a larger cat, if there aren’t other coyotes to share the meal, the coyote will likely eat as much as it can until it gets full.

This might cause the coyote to leave the head and other parts of the cat uneaten.

People have found body parts of cats strewn around neighborhoods, where coyotes or similar animals consumed most of a cat and left limbs scattered around on the lawn or ground.

While it isn’t every day that coyotes seek out cats for dinner, it is also unusual for a coyote to kill a cat unless it plans on eating it.

Of course, when a voracious coyote seeks out a cat and kills it, it doesn’t take into consideration that the average cat is larger than a regular meal for one coyote.

Some coyotes live in packs or with their mates, and in these cases, one cat wouldn’t be enough to go around, so the entire cat would likely be consumed, head and all.

Related A look at where cats go during the day and when it rains.

In Summary

Coyotes do eat cats on occasion, yes. It’s a risk you need to be aware of if you have an outdoor cat that roams areas where coyotes may also roam.

Coyotes are wild animals that don’t merely live in the wild. Many live in cities and suburban areas, where they wait until nightfall to hunt for food.

Even though your cat will likely die if it encounters a coyote, there are measures you can take to keep your cat safe from being killed and possibly eaten by a coyote.


Image credits – Header Photo by Portuguese Gravity, coyote photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

Urban Coyote Research Project – North America Distribution

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