Coyotes change the cat owning habits of Americans

Coyote photographed by a camera trap in California, USA
Coyote photographed by a camera trap in California, USA. Photo: National Park Service. Click on it for a larger version.
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USA: Watch out, coyotes are about catching domestic and feral cats. This is an excellent picture of coyote with a watermelon in their mouth. It is a camera trap photograph of a coyote in the US which reminds me of the diet of the coyote which as you know is an omnivore. It also reminds us that residents in urban and suburban districts have some control over the presence of coyotes as they provide food for them in the form of live cats and garbage. Removing food resources would remove the coyotes. This would include picking up fruit fallen from trees and not leaving pet food outside. Also keeping cats indoors. Some residents probably like to feed the coyotes.

This is where TNR volunteers have a say in matters. Feeding feral cats is part of the TNR process. Leaving food down for cats may attract coyotes. I am sure someone has complained about it. It is a balancing act between helping feral cats and not attracting coyotes which attack cats.


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Coyotes eat watermelons and cats, and a huge variety of foods in-between. A lot of it is garbage. Yes, domestic or stray cats are often on their menu. They can catch cats but not always as they meander through the urban and suburban districts of America, in this instance in California.

In some parts of the US twenty percent of an urban coyote’s diet is domestic or stray cats. The National Park Service and California State University Northridge research project has submitted its final version of their project. It was found that 20% of the scats (stools) of urban coyotes contained cat remains. That’s one fifth of their diet is cat. I think that that is quite a lot of domestic or stray cat.

They can’t tell the percentage of owned to unowned cats but I’d expect a decent percentage to be outside domestic cats. Do they find microchips in scats? You know when people say that their cat has gone missing and never returned. They search for their cat in the usual way without success. They grieve and eventually forget. There is a possibility that their cat ended up in the stomach of a coyote.

Urban coyotes are far more likely to prey on domestic and feral cats than suburban coyotes. Only 4% of suburban coyote scats contained cat remains. I wonder why this is? I suspect it is because there are other foods available which are easier to obtain in suburbia.

As you can see in the photo coyotes like their fruit as well. The researchers found the remains of ornamental fruit, loquat, grapes and palm tree fruit in the scats. Suburban coyotes’ eating habits are seasonal we are told. They eat more ripe ornamental fruits in the summer and natural prey in the winter months.

As well as using scats, the researchers used stable isotope analysis to assess coyote diet. Stable isotope analysis allows us to detect digestible foods like bread and hamburgers. Coyotes (and other predators) are one of the main reasons why the cat owning attitude of Americans is very different to that of the British. A good proportion of Americans keep their cats inside whereas in Britain almost no one does.

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