Most people consider their pets a part of their family and treat them as such, showering them with love and affection. Those little balls of purring fur we call cats can claw their way into our hearts, no question about it! The last thing we want for our kitties is to have them run into a coyote outside – yikes!
If you know coyotes live near your property, there are a few things you can do to keep them away from your cat. Keeping your cat indoors, securing your trash cans, installing outdoor cat towers, and keeping pet food and water dishes inside are just a few ways to keep your cat safe from coyotes.
Worried about your outdoor cat? We got you covered! We’ll go over 9 simple ways to keep coyotes away from your cat below.
Keep Cats Indoors to Avoid Coyote Attacks
The simplest solution to keeping coyotes away from your cat is to keep your cat indoors. However, we understand that not all cats are indoor cats. Some are feral, some are just raised to be outside.
If you have a cat that loves the outdoors and needs the sunshine to warm its fur every day, there are still things you can do to minimize the risk of a coyote-cat conflict.
According to a study done in Arizona on Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions, fatal coyote attacks on cats happened most often between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am. They also happened more frequently during the pup-rearing season.
With this in mind, if you must let your cat outside, try to avoid dawn, dusk, and nighttime strolls. Let your cat out during the day and bring them inside in the afternoon. Be especially vigilant during March and April, when coyotes are rearing pups.
Additionally, you can also use scents to keep coyotes away. More on that in our article: The Five Scents That Coyotes Hate (and how to use them).
Do Not Leave Pet Food That Attracts Coyotes Outside
Whether your cat is an only child or it has a few dog brothers and sisters, you should always feed your pets indoors.
Leaving cat food or dog food outside is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for coyotes. They’re not picky about their food, so even stale or old pet food can attract these wily animals.
If you must feed your cats outside, be sure to clean up any leftover food and pick the dish up after each feeding session. Pesky coyotes are attracted to anything that smells like food! The closer coyotes are to your yard, the closer they are to your cat.
Pick Up Fallen Fruit to Avoid Coyote-Cat Conflicts
Coyotes are carnivores, aren’t they? What’s up with picking up fruit? Believe it or not, coyotes are omnivores and love to eat berries, grapes, and all types of fruit.
So, what does fruit have to do with protecting your cat? According to Loyola Marymount University, scat analysis of coyotes in a southern California suburban area revealed that a quarter of the local coyote’s diets consisted of ornamental fruit.
What ends up happening is that coyotes are attracted to fruit just like they are attracted to pet food that’s been left out. Once the coyotes are in the area they find domestic pets to hunt in addition to the free fruit.
If you have fruit trees, vines, or bushes in your yard, it’s best to clear up any fallen fruits. It can also be helpful to trim beneath bushes to avoid giving coyotes a hiding place.
Use Coyote Deterrents To Keep Your Cat Safe
There are tons of products on the market that claim to deter coyotes from your yard, keep your farm animals safe from coyotes, or protect your pets.
The thing is, some of these products don’t work. In general, sonic noisemakers are not effective against coyotes. Wind chimes and outdoor lights can deter coyotes initially, but not long-term.
So, what can you do?
While a coyote-proof fence is the most effective way to keep coyotes out, it’s also the most expensive. Instead, you can try some scents and smells that coyotes hate.
The scent that deters coyotes the most may come as a surprise: wolf pee! While eastern coyotes sometimes breed with wolves, the majority of their encounters with wolves end badly for the elusive coyote.
You can use something like PredatorPee Original Wolf Urine with Scent Tags to deter them from coming near your yard. If a coyote thinks a wolf is around, they’re unlikely to come near your property. Therefore, Mr. Whiskers is safe from those troublesome canines.
This product has the bonus of coming with scent tags, which saves you in the long run because you use less of the product per scent tag than if you sprayed directly on the ground or on fence posts.
If you’d like to learn more, check out our guide: How Coyotes Really Jump Fences (And Why They Do It)
Remove Water Dishes That Can Attract Coyotes
Coyotes, like most animals, require three basic necessities: food, water, and shelter. When one of those necessities becomes easy to acquire, coyotes will stick around.
Similar to our pet food problem, leaving water dishes out is a sure way to attract coyotes (and other critters!) to your yard. Once coyotes are in your yard, your precious outdoor kitty is in trouble.
If you must leave water dishes out for your pets, be sure to pick them up every evening before you go to bed. Remember, urban and suburban coyotes are more active at night than during the day.
For a full list of the best coyote deterrents, check out our article 4 Best Coyote Repellents (And How To Use Them).
Discourage Small Prey To Protect Your Cat
We all know cats love watching birds. Some of us cat owners like to put birdseed out to attract songbirds and entertain our fuzzy friends.
While this can help stimulate a cat’s hunting` sense and keep its senses sharp, it can also do something else: attract coyotes.
Birdseed that drops on the ground from birdfeeders will attract squirrels, mice, chipmunks, rabbits, and rats to your yard. These small rodents are prey animals to both cats and coyotes.
Once coyotes are attracted to your yard, your purring pal is in trouble. Especially if they are a free-roaming kitty! Be sure to sweep up fallen birdseed or provide a tray beneath to catch falling seed.
Keep Your Trash Secure To Keep Coyotes Away From Your Cat
Nothing attracts critters more than spilled garbage and fresh scraps. It’s the easiest way to call raccoons, skunks, possums, and coyotes to your yard for a free buffet.
If you want to keep your cat safe from coyotes, don’t give coyotes a reason to be in your yard. This means securing your garbage cans as much as possible.
There are a few simple ways you can keep your trash secure to make sure the trash stays IN and the coyotes stay OUT.
Store Garbage Until Garbage Day
One easy way to keep coyotes out of your trash and away from your beloved cat is to store the garbage somewhere until garbage day comes.
You can place your garbage in your garage, in your shed, or in a locked container until garbage day comes.
Use A Lid Lock On Your Garbage Can
One of the reasons why garbage becomes available to critters is because animals like coyotes and raccoons knock it over and the lid pops off on its own.
To avoid these types of situations, you can purchase a lid lock for your trash cans. Something like the Strong Strap Universal Garbage Can Lid Lock Utility Strap is a good choice if you really want your lid secure.
This product requires you to put holes in your garbage can to secure the lid lock. If you’d rather not deal with hand-drilling holes in your trash can, you can try something like the Encased Trash Can Lock, which uses heavy-duty bungee cords to keep the lid secure.
The less garbage available to coyotes (and other potential cat-catchers), the more likely your free-roaming kitty will come home each day safe and sound.
Do Not Give Coyotes Shelter
We talked about food, we talked about water, now let’s talk about shelter. Coyotes need shelter during harsh weather, to rear their pups, and to stay away from the prying eyes of humans.
You may be unwittingly providing a hiding place for coyotes in your yard. If you have a shed or porch with space beneath it, or old building materials piling up in your yard, you could be attracting coyotes.
Like the other items on our list, attracting coyotes to your yard can eventually lead to a coyote-cat conflict which is bad news for Mr. Whiskers!
Even an overgrown bush can provide shelter for coyotes. Be sure to trim any out-of-control bushes so that the bottom 12 inches is bare. Exposed areas like these are unlikely to house a coyote.
The cleaner your lawn is of old wood, collapsed buildings, or other hidey-holes, the less likely a coyote is to waltz onto your property and zero in on your cat.
You can also board up areas beneath your house and outbuildings to further discourage coyotes from making your property their home.
You can learn more about repelling coyotes in our piece: 8 Brilliant Ways You Can Keep Coyotes Away Indefinitely.
Give Your Cat An Escape Route From Coyotes
Cats are pretty smart. They have amazing senses that send them signals from the environment. However, even if a cat realizes a coyote is around, it can’t get out of harm’s way if there is no escape.
Cats need something high up to escape coyotes. Although those wily canines can jump over fences, they can’t jump very high. According to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program, a fence 5 feet high should be able to keep coyotes out.
With that in mind, there are a few options to give your cat an escape route in case it runs into a big bad coyote.
Purchase an Outdoor Cat Tree To Keep Your Cat Safe
Outdoor cat trees can be as simple as a pounded-in 2×4 with a piece of plywood on top, to a luxurious pre-built cat tower, complete with a cat door and stairwell.
If you have a tree in your yard, that works as effectively as a cat tower as long as the branches are low enough for your cat to reach them but high enough that the coyotes cannot.
The Petsfit Outdoor Cat House is pre-built and provides your cat with a place to both hide and jump away from any pursuing coyotes. It is 56.4 inches tall, around 4.7 feet. This is right at the limit of a coyote’s ability to jump. This cat tree also has plenty of escape holes to outwit any pursuing coyotes.
Can A House Cat Outrun A Coyote?
If a coyote and a cat get into a footrace, which one will come out with the 1st place blue ribbon? Coyotes and cats are both athletic animals.
Coyotes can climb over fences and dig under fences. They can chase down a white-tailed deer in certain circumstances. And they can pounce on a mouse beneath the snow. Cats can jump four to six times their height vertically and up to eight feet horizontally.
Talk about some acrobatic animals! So, do cats stand a chance against a coyote chasing them?
Coyotes can run up to 30 miles per hour according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Funny enough, that’s the max of a house cat as well!
According to a 2010 study done in Tucson, Arizona, of 36 coyote-cat interactions observed, 19 resulted in cat fatality. This equals out to about 52%. Since coyotes and cats run at about the same speed, this statistic isn’t too surprising!
Coyotes are opportunistic predators who will always take the easy meal if it presents itself. This can mean spilled garbage, a rabbit that hops by, or a house cat slinking around after dark.
There are a few things you can do to keep your cat safe from those rascally coyotes.
Here are 9 simple ways to keep coyotes away from your cat:
- Keep cats indoors, especially at dawn and dusk
- Don’t feed pets outside
- Pick up fallen fruit
- Use scents and smells that coyotes dislike
- Don’t put water bowls out
- Discourage other prey – keep birdseed off ground to avoid attracting squirrels
- Keep trash locked
- Don’t give coyotes shelter – board up under porches and shed
- Install cat towers outside
It can be scary hearing the howl of coyotes at night, knowing your cat is still out and about. Luckily, these simple suggestions can keep coyotes away and keep your kitties safe.
If coyotes continue to be a problem in your neighborhood and feral cats are going missing (or your cat), you can always contact a professional for help. Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a wildlife professional near you.
Alexander, S. M., & Quinn, M. S. (2011). Coyote (Canis latrans) interactions with humans and pets reported in the Canadian print media (1995–2010). Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 16(5), 345-359.
Baker, R. O. (2007). A review of successful urban coyote management programs implemented to prevent or reduce attacks on humans and pets in southern California.
Farrar, R. O. (2007, April). Assessing the impact of urban coyote on people and pets in Austin, Travis County, Texas. In Wildlife Damage Management Conferences–Proceedings (p. 62).
Grubbs, S. E., & Krausman, P. R. (2009). Observations of coyote‐cat interactions. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 73(5), 683-685.
Timm, R. M., Baker, R. O., Bennett, J. R., & Coolahan, C. C. (2004). Coyote attacks: an increasing suburban problem.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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