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Monday, August 27, 2007


posted by on August 27 at 10:20 AM

“Missing Cat” signs have been going up all over my neighborhood—and then about two weeks ago someone posted a sign warning cat owners that coyotes were on the loose. And coyotes, it seems, have a taste for house cats. “Keep your cats indoors at night!” the new signs warned.

Well, someone on my block didn’t heed that warning. Last Thursday the rear end of a neighbor’s cat was discovered in front of one house; the cat’s head was discovered on across the street. Most of the middle of the cat was missing and presumed eaten. By coyotes. Who have a taste for house cats. Particularly de-clawed cats that can’t really defend themselves.

So, like, I guess we better keep your cats indoors.

Finding that cat smeared all over the street was a sad, spooky, gory discovery—and, of course, a thoroughly natural one. Cats—and their owners—are used to cats sitting at the top of the urban food chain, the top predator in city neighborhoods. But that’s changing, it seems, and that’s good news for birds. House cats that are allowed to roam free kill hundreds of millions of birds every year. Folks that give a shit about birds have been asking cat owners to keep their pets indoors for years, to little effect. An assist from coyotes may finally do the trick.

RSS icon Comments


sorry, thought this was about Alberto G.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2007 10:32 AM

Declawed outdoor cats? What a horrible thing to do to your pet.

Posted by Levislade | August 27, 2007 10:32 AM

Cats that live outside have never had a particularly enviable life expectancy.

Posted by ol'jb | August 27, 2007 10:35 AM

Declawed cats! If your furniture is that important to you then you really shouldn't have pets.

Coyotes are mother fuckers. They'll eat anything they can get their hands on. And they are hard to kill. 1000lb weight dropped right on his head and he still came back to steal sheep.

Poor kitties

Posted by monkey | August 27, 2007 10:37 AM

What neighborhood is this?

Posted by JC | August 27, 2007 11:09 AM

Keep your fucking cats inside. Mine spends all day staring out the window, but I'd rather have her inside vomiting on my shoes than in pieces in the back yard.

If your furniture is so important, don't get a cat! Declawing is incredibly inhumane-- essentially lopping off the first joint of their 'fingers'. If you must have a cat and pricey furniture, try a scratching post or Soft Paws (the colored caps you glue onto their claws-- most vets will do it).

Posted by Jessica | August 27, 2007 11:10 AM

Hah. Monkey, nice Wile E Coyote reference.

Coyotes are smart enough. In the face of increasing human incursion into their habitat, they take advantage of what's available. Not being overly specialized, they can survive in the face of human population explosion.

They're similar to crows in that they thrive in the wild while also being able to adapt their diets to living around dense human populations. Thus you see coyote populations on the increase, despite prior pushes to exterminate the sorry bastards.

And, coyotes tend to eat more fruit than mammal, with variations occurring seasonally and as a function of habitat. In urban habitats, cats comprise the biggest slice of the mammal pie for coyotes. But coyotes also eat significant numbers of squirrels, mice/voles, and raccoons. They even grass and vegitation.

A cat kills a bird to show it off to you. A coyote kills a cat to get a meal and survive.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 27, 2007 11:15 AM

This spring, a pack of coyotes that has been living in the woods behind my house gave birth to a litter of pups. As the pups reached the age at which they were beginning to venture beyond the den, the whole pack became quite visible and active in the area - hunting for food, or just hanging out on nearby trails as I walked my dog through the area. They are easily spooked and pose no threat to humans who exercise common sense. Around the same time, there were a number of cats who went missing (or were found in a dismembered state) throughout the neighborhood - all cats whose owners allowed them outdoors without supervision. Where do I live? I'd rather not say specifically - even coyotes need their privacy - but let's just say I can drive to Broadway in five minutes from my house.

Posted by Mystery Poster | August 27, 2007 11:25 AM

A coyote once broke into a locked cooler and stole a pack of hot dogs from me. It left the buns and condiments, though.

I'm just glad it wasn't a bear.

Posted by Soupytwist | August 27, 2007 11:25 AM

What, no mention about keeping dogs inside too? Small dogs are as likely to be eaten by coyotes as any cat. One killed two dogs (a pomeranian and a similarly sized mutt) in my neighborhood last winter.

Posted by Matt from Denver | August 27, 2007 11:29 AM

@10 is correct - small dogs are also coyote bait if left outside unattended. So keep an on your son's weird little poodle Dan!

Posted by Providence | August 27, 2007 11:34 AM

If the coyotes eat the raccoons that once attacked my son's dog, then I'm all for the coyotes -- and I'll keep an eye on the dog, thanks.

Posted by Dan Savage | August 27, 2007 11:39 AM

Here's some interesting info about coyotes.

In the wild state, Coyotes are timid animals with a natural fear of humans. They are curious animals and may watch you from a distance. Usually they will run from you long before you see them.

Coyotes in cities and urban areas, however, may become accustomed to the scent of humans and may not be so quick to run. This is often not their fault, but thanks to humans who do not properly dispose of garbage or who leave food out for wild animals. Often these animals are destroyed because of human carelessness or thoughtlessness that leads to a human encounter. Remember that a fed animal is a dead animal.

If you come across a coyote that is bold or overly curious, make yourself as big as possible (stand up), pick small children up in your arms, gather children in a group, make lots of noise (shout) and wave your arms. Usually, they will leave at a run.

Coyotes can breed with domestic dogs and the pups, called Coy-Dogs, have no fear of humans and may possess the wild instincts of a coyote. This makes it very important for farmers with coyotes on their property to make sure their dogs are spayed or neutered. A coyote may also kill a domestic dog if it has the opportunity.

Very little research has been done on population, foods and other studies of the coyote in an urban or city setting.

Posted by Matt from Denver | August 27, 2007 11:48 AM

I hope we get to the coyote level where we hear them howl/scream thing they do.

Posted by Tim | August 27, 2007 11:56 AM

I'm a pet person. Last year I spent 17,500 on vet bills for my dog and cat. They are like my children. The city should kill these coyotes before anymore cats get hurt.

Posted by Pet Person | August 27, 2007 12:00 PM

I also read somewhere that more bobcats are starting to live in urban areas. They similarly eat housecats, and also would eat little dogs. Can't remember where I saw that, though. Berlin has a wild boar problem, also, although I don't if they will predate or just scavenge.

Posted by ol'jb | August 27, 2007 12:03 PM

"pick small children up in your arms". Check.

Then what? "throw small children at coyote"???

Befuddling game hints always befuddle me.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 27, 2007 12:27 PM

@ 15 - Okay, maybe I'm not a "Coyote Person", but these animals have as much right to live as your pets do. It is your responsibility to keep your pets (much like your children) safe. It is not the city's job to eliminate any potential threat to your pet. I also have a cat and a dog, and although I didn't spend 17,500 (are you taking them to the vet every other day?), I sure do love them. That's why I make sure that I keep them away from other animals that might hurt them. A an eagle, a big falcon, and many other predators could pick up a cat or small dog, should we do away with all the birds of prey? What about other people pets that are bigger/smarter than your pets, should they be euthanized just in case they come into contact with yours? If these people let their pet wander haphazardly through the streets, they obviously didn't care about their pet enough to ensure his/her/its safety, and can't be surprised at the outcome.

Posted by Coyote Person | August 27, 2007 12:32 PM

What Seattle needs is more road runners.

It's not the coyotes' fault that cats are so damned delicious.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | August 27, 2007 12:44 PM

Coyotes wouldn't be in city neighborhoods if people would stop mowing down their habitat and building homes on it. If you're wondering why so many coyotes have been seen lately, take a drive out some back roads in the eastern half of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.

But yeah, cats vs. birds. I'm with the birds. Keep your HOUSE CAT in your house, assholes.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2007 1:07 PM

Last Tuesday at 8 a.m. my bf and I were sitting in our kitchen drinking coffee when an adult coyote sauntered along our back fence. In broad daylight, like it owned the place. We live near Broadmoor and the Arboretum. There were maintenance crews out on the golf course, which didn't bother the coyote at all. There are also quite a few missing pet signs up in our neighborhood.

Apparently coyotes have taken up residence in the golf course, which I find hilarious, since Broadmoor is highly selective about those who get to live in their private enclave.

Posted by rb | August 27, 2007 1:19 PM

I'm not negating that coyotes may have done this, but raccoon's are know to make that sort of work of a cat.. but who knows?

Two coyotes just recently had to be put down in Golden Gate park because they started becoming confrontation with humans, which means some assholes were probably feeding them, not know that means certain death for the animal.

When I was younger I remember the hysteria that would occasional ensue over cougar sighting on cougar mountain.

Posted by Dougsf | August 27, 2007 1:55 PM

I tried letting my cat watch Road Runner cartoons to learn about how to deal with coyotes, but the cat didn't get it. He identified with the coyote, not the road runner, and so went and ordered this giant cannon from ACME. God knows if he was going to shoot himself out of it or start shelling the neighborhood or what before I intervened.

The whole thing raised some deep questions for me. Just how does the hunter become the hunted? Do artificial categories like "predator" and "prey" really apply to nature?

And by keeping my cat locked in the house, am I interfering with the natural order? If it is OK to manipulate nature, then why isn't it OK to drive the coyotes out of the city? What is natural? Isn't man a part of nature too?

I'm out of Doritos, but after I run and get some more, I'm going to watch every one of these road runner cartoons again until I get this figured out.

Posted by elenchos | August 27, 2007 1:57 PM

I am perfectly happy to let my cats run free outdoors and kill birds, because otherwise those same birds would eat all of my fruit. They've certainly done it before.

Posted by Greg | August 27, 2007 3:04 PM

Is there any way we can train cats just to kill crows and pigeons? I'd be cool with that.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 27, 2007 3:13 PM

Okay, I thought that what with the coming bird flu pandemic and all, that birds were now considered disease-bearing vermin. Now I'm hearing they're innocent victims of poor heartless cats who must be prevented from hunting at all costs? But then coyotes transform those heartless predatory cats back into helpless victims again. So coyotes must be prevented from hunting at all costs. Or wait, no, it's humans fault for living in places where coyotes once roamed freely, so humans must be prevented from living somewhere at all costs. Also, humans must be prevented from not preventing their cats from following their natural instinct to be nocturnal hunters, and humans must also be prevented from intefering with coyotes natural instinct to be nocturnal hunters.

I don't what to think! It's very confusing...

I did see a disembowled cat near my house the other day, though.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 27, 2007 3:33 PM

I don't understand why it's legal to allow cats to roam. I used to be a veterinary nurse, and had the dubious honor of seeing what happens to outdoor cats.

We would routinely ask people if they allowed their cats outdoors, and the ones who did would always say, "yes, but he doesn't leave the yard" or "yeah, he's a street-smart kitty" or whatever.

And EVERY FUCKING TIME a cat would come in with their skull cracked open or guts hanging out, or an abscess filling their entire neck with pus, the human involved has to whimper something about how they thought their cat "never left the yard".

Is unlimited napping interrupted by mad dashes after imaginary bugs and predictable meals and lots of little toys stuffed full of drugs. . . is it REALLY such a bad life, people? Do you really think that a cat "needs" to go outside?

Do you let your toddlers wander the neighborhood unsupervised if they whine at the door?

Keep your damned cats inside. Thanks. :D

Posted by violet_dagrinder | August 27, 2007 4:09 PM

I've had cats for my whole life and they've always been indoor/outdoor. They like kicking back in the yard occasionally, I like the relative lack of litter box, we are both happy. They are scaredycats that run from cars and dogs (and raccoons, and I imagine coyotes). Someday, they might be too slow. But it's not inevitable. If you work at a vet's, yeah you're gonna see the unlucky ones, but that doesn't mean it's negligent to have outdoor cats. I have owned outdoor cats who lived to ripe old ages. (I have also had friends with indoor cats that died suddenly at a young age of mysterious unknown illness.) When my cats kill birds and mice once a year or so, they eat them, at least as much as that coyote ate the cat.

Posted by jessiesk | August 27, 2007 6:04 PM

Yeah, the nurses in the ER think motorcyclists should stay home and dash after imaginary bugs too.

Remember that MASH episode like 25 years ago when Frank Burns said "I wouldn't mind being a doctor if I didn't have to be around sick people."

Posted by elenchos | August 27, 2007 6:07 PM

At least being eaten or pancaked is quick. Indoor cats get terminally ill.

Posted by poltroon | August 27, 2007 7:23 PM

In the last year or so we've had two coyotes in downtown Chicago, literally in the Loop. The first wandered into a sandwich shop 1/2 block from the Art Institute and sat down in the drink cooler. I love cats but coyotes have a right to live too. Cats inside, coyotes outside, and everyone's happy.

Posted by Big_K | August 27, 2007 7:23 PM

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