Can a cat escape a coyote attack?

Coyote in garden - Photo: by Librarian Avenger (Flickr). The photographer says the coyote was

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Coyote in garden - Photo: by Librarian Avenger (Flickr). The photographer says the coyote was "hunting wild sandwiches"

Can a cat escape coyote attack? Well yes but a lot don't. I guess it depends on the circumstances and the cat's expertise at survival. A cat cannot beat a coyote in a fight so he or she will have to escape. Cat vs coyote - cat loses unless it is a wildcat such as the mountain lion. A coyote would avoid a puma.

I live in the UK so I don't have that potential fear of losing a cat due to a coyote attack. We have foxes here but they don't attack the domestic cat usually, it appears, probably because the adult domestic cat is a match for a standard British fox. My three legged boy got close to a fox once and the two just got on in a slightly tense way.

The coyote (American jackal or the prairie wolf) is a different sort of animal altogether, though. This animal is common across the north American continent as far as I am aware (my American friends will correct me if I am wrong) and it attacks domestic cats and dogs. It is resourceful and can be a hybrid of a wolf.

They are adaptable and have integrated into the human environment. Despite being hunted they survive well as a species. The leopard is an example of an adaptable wild cat.

A recent story (mid June 2011) prompted me to write this. The location is Battle Ground (apt name). The coyote chased the cat into the house through the cat flap/door. American cat flaps are much larger that UK ones. A coyote could not get through a Brit cat flap/door. The US cat doors are in fact large enough for a dog to get through. Maybe in a countryside environment the person should fit a smaller cat flap. Just a thought. Maybe there should be a coyote proof cat door? Maybe there is!

The cat was able to escape the coyote once inside the house (plenty of hiding places) and the coyote became very frightened and defecated and pissed all over the place - the house owner also became scared! The coyote was trapped. Eventually he was forced out and he ran away. Thank God he was not shot. I don't like shooting wild animals as an answer to problems. The coyote was just behaving naturally - why shoot?

The cat's caretaker is very sensible. He says he invaded the coyote's territory not the other way around - true.

So, my question is how concerned are cat keepers who let their cats out about a possible coyote attack?

As to answering the question, "Can a cat escape coyote attack?" the answer has to be a yes but not always.

According to Wikipedia if cats are caught they don't usually survive. Dogs are more likely to survive but be injured. Coyotes will attack large dogs too but may be killed by them.

Apparently coyotes prey heavily on domestic animals in the winter in California. Coyotes also treat feral cats as prey. They successfully prey on feral cats and also eat the food placed down for the feral cats. An entire colony of feral cats was wiped out by coyotes. One argument that people put forward for not putting food down for feral cats is that it attracts coyotes (and other wild animals).

In the UK we have urban foxes. They are all around my home at night and I see them on the golf course. I like foxes. The coyote also does well in an urban environment which must be of concern to cat keepers who let their cat go out.

It appears that one reason why a lot of cat caretakers in the USA keep their cats in permanently is because there is more large wildlife in the USA. In the UK we exterminated nearly all large wildlife hundreds of years ago.

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Can a cat escape a coyote attack?

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Apr 18, 2012 Jingle NEW
by: Anonymous

Oh God where do you find the words to comfort a human soul who has lost a free soul (pet)?
I felt the same as you. I look back and see so many things I should have done-guilt consumes me.
June 8th is coming upon us-and I still search the neighborhood and areas between for my baby boy Wednesday.
August 2011-We adopted another Maine Coon-female Ginger to relieve the pain and loneliness for our other cat Roxy-who still pines for her mate Wednesday. And of lately-I think she is giving up hope-she barely eats, sleeps all the time, hardly talks anymore (part Siamese). Its so quite around here, and to see the light going out of her eyes in these past couple of weeks is so heart breaking, because the pain does not seem to go away.
Her friend Ginger is frisky, but can't get her to play anymore.
Blesses to you!

Apr 16, 2012 Hole in heart NEW
by: Jingle

Purry was an outside/inside Siamese cat. He lived this way for 15 years. He came in and out during the day and always stayed in at night and slept beside me unless I was out of town. When we were out of town, we always left the garage door opener with our neighbor who could come and feed the cat everyday in the garage.
On 4/5, I went out of town for one night and left the garage door up a small amount so that he come in and eat/sleep.
When I returned on 4/6, I did not see him. When night came and it was time to go to bed, he did not come to the door as usual. I then drove a around the neighborhood looking for him and could not find him. On 4/7, he was not around either. I walked around the yard and spotted his breakaway collar lying in the grass still fastened in a circle. Then I saw tufts of his beautiful fur lying all around. I began to feel sick.
I looked everywhere for him for days, thinking that he may be injured from a cat fight. The other alternatives are very hard to even picture or even imagine.
I put up flyers all over the neighborhood and the local petfinder on facebook and offered a reward for him and I vowed that I ever found him again that I would never allow him outside again.
It has now been 12 days since 4/5 and my heart is broken and a big hole is left in my life. I regret not making him stay in and I hope that others will read this and take their cats inside and not have to go through the pain that I am currently feeling. I did not ever think about this happening to him and I feel so bad and full of guilt. What I would give to have him with me tonight. He was a once in a lifetime cat, he was beautiful, smart and his personality like no other have I ever known and I miss him so much.

Oct 10, 2011 Wednesday other comments
by: Anonymous

Like others-there was no sign that he had been attacked.
So I assumed he was chased off his turf (around our yard)-ran endlessly and ended up at the other neighborhood 1/8 mile behind ours.
And of course-lost his way back in the process. So he might be just wandering in the desert from one hiding place to another.
I got out one day with my megaphone and walked from our house to the other neighborhood, calling for him every couple of feet. No luck. That was August 2011.
I would give anything to have him back.

Oct 10, 2011 Wednesday update
by: Anonymous

To all of you who showed concern for my baby boy.
He was sighted in another neigborhood 1/8 mile from ours-was fed by a resident, but could not catch him.
It is now October-and no one has seen him since August 2011.
I have had bad dreams about him-but folks tell me he may have given in and let someone adopt him out of the wild.
I still cry and keep up the hope-but I am concerned that he may have turned feral to survive.

Oct 10, 2011 Our MaineCoon is Missing
by: Desperate

We live in the Pacific NW on 2 acres of field, brush, & woods. Our property backs to a nursery and a natural wildlife corridor. We recently moved here in March 2011, from a suburban environment. We have a 10yr old female tabby & then two months ago we adopted a 10yr old 20 lb male MaineCoon cat. He was pure white in color (beautiful!) Our Tabby has been out in our fields since March and loves it! She has been outside at night and has been fine. We have seen coyotes in the area, but our nearest neighbor has 10 cats and our other neighbor has a med. size dog. Nothing has happened to our neighbor's pets and we felt relatively safe in allowing our new member of the family explore outside after being kept in for a month. On Sat (yesterday) morning, the sun was out for the first time in a week and was beautiful. My husband went out to get the paper & there was white fur (large amounts) covering the back field behind our house (right next to the shed the cats sleep under) all the way around the drive way, across the front field, across the narrow roadway, and then into the next field. I didn't want to trespass onto someone else's property so I didn't venture further, but the sun was bright and the field was very open and I couldn't see our cat nor any more fur beyond just past the roadway. I completely lost it and my husband had to investigate further. There was no body or carcass, no appendages, no blood, no nothing (not even on the fur), just gobs of white fur everywhere! My husband cleaned up the fur and a lot of it looks as if it had been sheared by scissors in many places (no blood/skin attached). I called for him all day Sat. to no avail! Our tabby came out from under the shed and is fine, she is now strictly indoors (much to her unhappiness). He was such a loving laid back cat, very large in size but was quick.
We figured that since our tabby had been okay that he would definitely be okay for a couple nights outside. I am horrified and sickened with grief and guilt! Our children are heartbroken! I go to our door and wriggle the cat food bag and call for him. Do you believe there is any way that our cat could have survived an attack from a coyote and be injured somewhere? Could he have survived losing a lot of fur? Why would coyotes leave all the fur, but no blood, no mess behind? I am so at a loss, never in my wildest thoughts did I believe this could happen! I made a terrible decision to allow two loved pets to run free at night in a place obviously crawling with predators & I just want to see him come home! I read that cats can sometimes chase coyotes for a couple miles (or be chased) and get lost in the process....then show up home. The amount of fur left behind though is discouraging. I thought a good sized MaineCoon would be a challenge to such an animal! Do coyotes teeth slice fur like razors/scissors? If this was a coyote attack, will they return because they possibly found a meal here? Do you think he will return home?

Jul 06, 2011 Wednesday
by: Lydiah AZ

Sorry for not adding my name sooner.

Wednesday has a mate/Roxy who 'acts' like she is always waiting for him to come home. She wanders the yard, like she expects him to pop over the wall any minute. I ask you all, does a cat/mate know (when they are close to each other), if another cat is alive or dead?
By the way, I have not ruled out our nasty neighbor of the 'suspects' list. As it seems that maybe his inlaws a few doors down, could also have our cat captive in their house.
UGH! This is the worst scenerio I have ever been in.

Jul 06, 2011 Wednesday
by: Anonymous

God Bless You!
I wish it were that easy. We keep watching their house, but do not even see our cat in their window, one of his favorite sports. We can only figure (2) things. They got rid of him (gave to somone else), or he is in a cage in a back room of the house. Wednesday does not like cages-evident by when we take him to the Cat Hotel for our vacation time. If we call the Police, they are going to ask us what proof we have to search their house. I already had a search done of my cat hating neighbor by the police the very next day he was missing. If I call the Police again, and suspect someone else-they are going to think I'm crackers.

Jul 06, 2011 Has Wednesday returned yet?
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Anonymous, if you suspect the cat is being held with those people, immediately report them to the police! You may even want to intimate to those people that there are witnesses who saw them at their house and you are pressing charges. If they're guilty, that should scare the beejeezus out of them! Don't give up...persistence pays off.

Jun 25, 2011 re: Michael
by: Anonymous

Thank you for those encouraging words. I sought the help of a Pet Psychic. Don't snicker, I REALLY want my baby boy Wednesday back. I have had him since birth. That's 4 years now. He is like a person to me. He acts like people by mimicing everything I do.
Nonetheless, PP told me where he was and who he was with. I went the way she told me to go and knocked on the house door-my jaw dropped. There were the people she described to me.
When I asked about my boy, they acted scared and made a comment that just did not seem right.
The mother said, we had no idea. We are so sorry.
Da! What did you think I thought. He has a collar and posters everywhere. Of course he belongs to someone.
I don't know how to get him back now. I walk up and down their street now, calling his name. But I don't see him in any window.
So for now, NIX the COYOTE THEORY.

Jun 25, 2011 Response to last comment
by: Michael

A cat can escape a coyote. And Maine Coons are large and good movers and jumpers. And their size may assist in defense (coyote less likely to attack perhaps).

He may well come back. I have read lots of stories of cats going wandering and returning.

Best of luck.

Jun 24, 2011 June 8, 2011
by: Wednesday

On the above date, we could not get our indoor cat inside. We had his female mate go out and try to coax him in, still he would not come in. I called again 2x's before I went to bed around 10pm. In the morning we called for him. No Wednesday.
It is now June 24, 2001. We put up posters all over our community. A few people said they saw him roaming and chasing praire dogs. Still no one actually caught him.
Than I suspected the coyotes in Arizona got him. But I was told there would be fur and blood if that had happened.
We watched our security camera and saw our cat just walk off into the night at 11pm.
Than 2 nights later, a coyote came prowling, which led us to think, our Wednesday got away and he was coming back to find him.
Can a house cat (Maine Coon), actually get away from a coyote? So if our Wednesday got spooked by a coyote, would he ever come back to us?

Jun 23, 2011 Safety
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

You are absolutely correct, Michael. Safety does come 1st but cats are natural wanderers wanting to be outside. What to do? Cat enclosures are the perfect solution if one has room.

Unfortunately, our 2nd floor back porch isn't large enough for one but there are lots of perches at windows for Abby to look out while I'm away. She will be on leash (if it ever stops raining) as soon as I am able to find a body harness large enough for her rubinesque body, LOL! She'll be able to join me outside on the porch on leash like Sadie did. As it stands, Abby waits patiently inside, even with the door open, while food is put out for the strays. Bless her.

Jun 23, 2011 Indoor cats
by: Michael

Thanks ladies for the useful comments. Yes, there are merits in keeping cats indoors because of the dangers of large wildlife.

I still think though that the best compromise is a cat enclosure of some kind as it protects the cat and allows a more natural lifestyle.

My old lady cat loves to go out. She is outside all day these warm days. It gives her pleasure in her old age. But she is safe and I agree that safety must come first.

Jun 23, 2011 Coyotes and foxes in Milwaukee area
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

We have coyotes very near our house. A neighbor told me there are lots of them near the railroad tracks and sometimes the size of the large feral cat colony (about two blocks over) decreases due to coyotes catching and killing cats. Oddly enough, hearing about coyotes killing these poor creatures upsets me less than animal control doing it. A feral cat as a wild animal faces dangers any other wild animal faces. Sometimes the cat kills the bird or the rabbit, other times the coyote kills the cat. The bad thing is we bred the cats to be smaller and to have more colorful coats, decreasing their chances of survival in the wild. I've never seen coyotes near our house, but I still monitor Monty pretty closely outside-- partly to decrease his impact on local wildlife, partly to keep him safe from local wildlife (or nasty humans).

My husband and I saw a fox on Howard Ave in Bayview on Sunday. (Bayview is a bustling urban neighborhood-- part of Milwaukee, WI.) The poor little red fox was quite bedraggled (it was raining) and he seemed to be trying to cross a busy street, sitting far too close to the passing cars. I wanted so much to be able to help him. Perhaps he was sick.

If you suspect an animal might be rabid there really is no one to call about that. There was a possum out in broad daylight a few years ago, coming up toward people walking on the sidewalk. I called animal control thinking he might be rabid, and they said they only deal with domestic animals and I would have to pay an exterminator. The animal in question was across the street from my house and I hardly wanted to spend money to deal with what at that moment wasn't really my problem.

Revealing though, isn't it: Animal control is so busy rounding up and killing feral cats that when there is a chance a wild animal might be sick with a very dangerous disease that affects humans they don't have time to deal with it. Our tax dollars at work. Michael has to be right-- there is money for them in killing these cats. No one's going to pay for the carcass of a rabid possum or fox, but the dead bodies of healthy, feral cats must command a price from somewhere. Why else this insanity?

Jun 23, 2011 Coyote vs Cat
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Interesting article, Michael. We see coyotes here in the northeast of the USA as well. We also have very large black bears and moose who also roam free. Although this is a city, we've got a lot of rural areas within a 30-minute drive where wildlife thrives. (We also have government protections on some who were in decline awhile back. Large wildlife is usually caught, tagged and released where they belong.)

What I also found interesting is the comment at the end of your article about why some Americans permanently keep their cats indoors and you hit the nail on the head. Besides traffic and abuse, our domesticated animals could very well fall prey to the call of the wild. Keeping our cats inside, providing for their every need, is the responsible thing to do.

The point about large wildlife in the U.K. being wiped out of existence centuries ago is sad. Hopefully, it gives 2nd thoughts about being too judgmental regarding indoor/outdoor cats. The U.K. has beautiful villages with space and little traffic but no large wildlife. The USA has huge cities and a crush of humanity with large wildlife. Both societies have their merits. It's nice to understand both sides.

31 thoughts on “Can a cat escape a coyote attack?”

    1. Your question prompts me to ask further questions. Are you sure a coyote caused your cat to run away? If your cat was injured, his or her survival depends on the severity of the injury or injuries. We just can’t say what the outcome will be. How long has he/she been missing?

  1. You severely underestimate the battle capabilities of some outdoor domestic cats which are big and aggressive. Even one of these single wolf hybrid Coyote’s in the states will retreat and if there’s multiple aggressive cats the coyote will most likely retreat or lose an eye or worse. Claws on some house cats are ridiculous

  2. I know some outdoor domestic cats that are big and aggressive. A single wolf hybrid coyote may retreat and if there’s multiple aggressive cats the coyote will most likely retreat or lose an eye or worse. Claws on some house cats are ridiculous

    1. Yes, quite likely. Although it might not be in the immediate area as the cat might have run and been chased down or the coyote might have carried the cat off to eat. Thanks Trixie.

  3. I have a small cat that is about the size of a loaf of bread. She is an indoor outdoor cat who got into many fights with other cats. She came back one door acting very agitated. We took she to the vet and she got into a fight with a coyote, the vets say from the bite marks she was in the coyotes mouth but she turned around at hit it on the nose of something. I’m very happy and lucky she is alive. She is a great cat.

  4. My sister & husband have a beautiful (13 year old going on 4) )cat named Earl Gray. Smart cat, hangs with the pet dogs, sleeps on your head, and is always “smarter” than any of us. Earl goes out day or night but always comes back in. Coyotes have always been around. Last night, we all heard (I am visiting) loud screaming noises. I thought it was a TV in another room. We opened the sliding doors to the back and it was coyotes like I’ve never heard before. Horrible. We blew a fog horn, the coyotes left. We walked the property….no Earl. I wake up today and still no Earl. I am praying that he is up a tree and will return. I am sick to my stomach. My sister does not know yet. As she is bedridden, no one wants to bring it up. Prayers are needed. It does change the course of what seems to have happened.

    1. OMG, this sounds terrible, Georgia. I makes my heart sink. Coyotes are efficient cat killers but cats are damn good at escaping etc.. I wish Earl and yourself the very best of luck.

      1. My cat is missing after a commotion with coyote I guess. I let him go in the backyard and heard a brief fight. When I went out, nobody was there but I found a bunch of animal hair which is not my cat’s. Neighbor says it’s coyote hair. No trace of my cat for last 24 hours. I hope he is safe somewhere and will return soon. He is only a year old though. I am so full of guilt and pain right now.

        1. I know how you feel. I completely do. It hurts. They way I read your story is that he may have escaped and is hiding. I guess you think that may have happened too. Cats are great escapers. Let’s hope. If he did escape he won’t be far away. Have you walked the area calling his name?

  5. My female cat was hospitalized for scrapping with a possible smaller coyote, Our cat is 12 lbs of bad, claws and fangs, but a close call when we forgot and left her out too late 1/25/16 on a full moon night in a Michigan rural area. Took her in right away and received emergency help, it is a must. This cat was saved and means the world to me. It is my best friend. Than you Jesus.

  6. My neighbor went to eat and got back home at dusk around 7:00 pm here on the east coast. They have security cameras and they did not see one of the cats they had. They went and were looking on camera and observed the following. Larger cat was sitting on top of the car and started looking all around. Then larger cat jumped off the car and ran off to safety. The smaller cat had been by a bush watching the bigger cat. After he ran off you can see the smaller cat on camera running over to a tree. After about 30 seconds, you see a coyote come into view on the camera with the smaller cat in his mouth. Coyote has him on the top of his back. The cat is moving all his legs and tail but can’t get loose. The coyote stands there in the driveway on camera with the struggling cat in his mouth and then, he runs off along a fence on the side of a neighbors yard. He turns into the neighbors front yard and is out of sight. My question is this, it seems like at some point the coyote has to release his mouth from the top of the cats back on order to start eating him but he had to kill him first as the cat was clearly alive and kicking. Could the small cat have gotten away and ran at this point or do you think the coyote broke his back bone with his teeth and he had no way of fighting back when the coyote put him down. Where did he take him to kill him off and eat him if he did. This is a residential neighborhood with wooded areas here and there. At the back of the ladies yard way back are woods but the Coyote was in the neighbors front yard. You think the cat got away and she should continue to look and call for him or just chalk it up now. It’s been almost a week now. Please advise. Thx. I am so sick after she showed me the video. I want to do away with these coyotes now with an air rifle. Grrrr. Poor little guy was so precious. He was not a kitten anymore but not an adult just yet. Too sad if you saw the tape.

    1. Mary, I’d be very surprised if he got away and is alive. I would guess the coyote would release the cat to eat him but the cat would be too injured and traumatised to escape. It is tough but coyotes don’t seem to lose cats as prey that often. Coyotes must be very able hunters because the cat is a very athletic and able hunter himself. It is sad and one reason why some cat owners keep their cats inside all the time.

  7. Coyotes are so adaptable it is scary. They have been known not to howl and yip at night in urban areas so that humans don’t know they’re in the area. Mankind has tried to exterminate them and if anything they’ve thrived. Western coyotes are smaller and more skittish around humans. Eastern coyotes are huge and are not afraid of humans. They’re the size of a German Shepherd and they have the ‘yote’s cunning. Scientists think they are either a wolf or dog hybrid. A friend of mine in Connecticut said she was working in her garden when she felt she was being watched. When she looked up two large coyotes were standing there staring at her. They didn’t seem to be intimidated even when she stood up. They finally turned and walked away.

    A few years back I saw an article about that South Korean scientist who cloned coyotes. Most of the comments were negative: “We already have too many of the damned things, why would he clone some more?” There was a lady who kept posting that ALL coyotes everywhere should be killed. I guess she didn’t know that even if we killed off 70 percent, the biology of the remaining females would ramp up and they would produce more puppies to fill the gap. Mankind’s tried extermination, and the coyote nation has thrived. And what right do we have to kill off another species? None.

    Anyway, it turns out that this lady said she had 9 cats and coyotes ate all of them. I asked her, did all 9 disappear at one time, or was it one by one? She admitted it was one by one. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt since coyotes are so crafty, but I would think that after the third cat disappeared she’d suspect something was wrong. Then she said that she kept opening up the door and throwing the remaining cats out because it would have been too much trouble to make them indoor cats! When I read that any empathy or sympathy I had for her vanished like a snowball in you-know-where. It was clear to me that she was unwilling to go the extra mile to keep her fur companions safe. And it’s not like she lived in a small apartment, because that lady stated she lived in a big house.

    It would take an extraordinary cat to fight off a coyote. That might happen sometimes, but usually the cat or small pet loses.

  8. my cat thayer went missing a little while ago i’ve had him since he was a kitten , him and his brother peter are outdoor/indoor cats. peter went missing in november , there are coyotes in the neighborhood ( we think ) and he never came back , they found his body in april , we moved a short while after we have a canyon beyond our backyard fence , and there are coyotes there too. I hope he is still okay , I fear for our new kittens lives . will they make it , if given proper training ? I cannot bear to make them indoor cats.

    1. Hi Loree. You have written a sad comment. If there are coyotes in your area it seems to me that you have to keep your cats in and if possible construct an enclosure which gives them the sensations of the outdoors. I don’t see any other solution. Cats are not able to beat coyotes. I love cats going out but only if it is safe. Good luck. You can’t train cats to deal with coyotes.

  9. My Maine Coone went missing on 12-22-13. Boots, my maine coone, and Sweetie Pie, my other cat both went missing at the same time. It was at noon and they were both in my front yard. I heard rumors that Coyotes are around here but I ignorantly thought Animal control or the state had been taking care of the situation. I know now the state or animal control don’t care how many pets coyotes kill. I feel so guilty that I didn’t keep them inside. They were indoor/outdoor cats. All my neighbors let their cats and small dogs outside so I thought it was safe. Now, too late, I know it wasn’t safe. I believe a coyote crawled under my fence in the backyard and took them. I saw the evidence of the place where the animal dug a hole to get into my yard. I looked around for any fir or other evidence of a kill but didn’t see anything. Neighbors have said my cats may be hiding and afraid to come out. I prey to God that is true and I prey they are still alive. They are my reason for living. I’m an elderly person and my cats are my babies. I cry all the time. The pain is unbearable. I want my babies back.

    1. Oh, Dixie. I so feel for you and the pain you are going through. What a horrible experience for you all. I’d like to make your comment into a article and then more people can communicate with you. Take care. Let’s hope.

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      1. My sister lost her Bichon (small dog) when a group of coyote actually climbed over a 6 foot chain link fence into her back yard. It was very sad. This happened in San Diego near the canyons, in a very densely populated neighborhood.

        Cats have the advantage of fitting into small places to escape. If a tree is gnarly with lots of low branches I have no doubt a coyote would climb it. But the cat can for sure go higher.

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