How many cats are killed by coyotes?

How many domestic cats are killed by coyotes each year in the USA? We don’t have a number, is the answer, but interested parties such as bird conservationists use coyote attacks on cats to their advantage in strongly recommending that all cats are kept inside all the time for their protection. You’ll find some local statistics for pets killed by coyotes but the figures will be qualified by a statement that the true figure may be higher. If you can find good statistics please leave a comment.

Coyote with cat in its mouth

Coyote with cat in its mouth

Generally, there is a feeling that the number is higher than what people think. Cats are a popular prey for the coyote. An obvious problem is that pet dogs also kill cats and cats go missing. What happened? We don’t know. Was the cat killed by a coyote or a dog or is the cat still wandering around the neighborhood?

We do have statistics for dog and coyote attacks on people in the USA which provides a general comparison from which we can get a feel for what is happening in respect of coyote and dog attacks on outdoor domestic cats.

We are told that for 30 years preceding 2006 there were 160 coyote attacks on people. Kids are by far the most likely victim for obvious reasons. By comparison, in any one year, there are 300,000 dog attacks on peopleĀ¹. The comparison demonstrates how dangerous the pet dog is compared to the coyote and indeed the puma (cougar). The domestic dog is far more dangerous that the cougar and, it seems the coyote.

Feral cats are extremely vulnerable to a coyote attack. Attacks on feral cats have probably increased a lot over recent years because (a) coyotes are becoming habituated to being around people. They are becoming urban. They are already urban in many areas and (b) there are more trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for feral cats where there are colonies, (c) there appears to be growing numbers of coyotes as they have expanded their range from central North America to all of America (d) the coyote is adaptable and willy and has taken over where the wolf once reigned until hunted to near extinction.

TNR entails feeding the cats all of which entices coyotes to the area where they can attack feral and stray cats at will. This is a major reason why people don’t like TNR programs and why people keep cats inside all the time.

Where HOA regulations and rules allow, cat owners should or could build a coyote-proof fence if they have a garden to allow their cat some safe outside stimulation. Coyotes are athletic so the fence has to be designed specifically to keep coyotes out. Alternatives to environmental enrichment are well designed catios.

The range or distribution of the coyote is across all of the United States.

coyote distribution

Coyote distribution

So in answer to the question: How many cats are killed by coyotes, I’ll have to use some numbers from the American Bird Conservancy (biased?).

In large city environments such as Washington DC and Boston, 13-45% of the coyote diet is made up of cats.Ā  Other studies indicate that cats make up 13% and 42% of the coyote’s diet. These figures might not be accurate. Even so they are high and clearly a major health risk or hazard for the outdoor domestic cat, the stray and feral cat. This is a major reason why Americans keep their cats indoors far more often that the British and in other Northern European countries.

Cat cats survive a coyote attack? It depends in the circumstances and the cat. On a one-to-one confrontation it appears the cat has little chance of survival.


  1. Smithsonian.
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Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


How many cats are killed by coyotes? — 8 Comments

  1. Coyotes are why 300AAC with a suppressor exists. Especially with a thermal scope. Just be aware of backstop, no more coyote.

    Neighborhood cats are friends. They also control burrowing rodents.

    Coyotes are vermin.

  2. Coyotes are the main reason my cats are indoor cats. I’ve seen them jump the 6 foot block wall behind my house–into the yard and then out. They will kill puppies and small dogs in enclosed backyards. One animal control my sister talked to says he has found up to 35 small collars in a coyote den in the ravines near suburban areas.

  3. Thankfully, there aren’t a whole lot of coyotes here.
    Most dangers for cats here aren’t vicious raccoons, dogs, or snakes.
    It’s MAN!

  4. Oh that picture is so sad, poor cat! How horrible to have coyotes around, it’s no wonder American people keep their cats in and safe, but it’s horrifying for feral cats to have that danger around.
    Again down to people in the beginning turning un-neutered cats out to fend for themselves and breed and start generations of ferals.
    I think we are very lucky to live in England!

  5. We hear about more small dogs being attacked by coyotes in the news here in Arizona, but I know my big brother hears about cat attacks by coyotes in the hilly area around Anaheim all the time. In fact he is sure his cat was killed by them. If they saw the attack coming I think cats would have a fighting chance due to their athletic skills to escape, but if it came down to a fight? I’m not so sure they would win. The fact is that cats don’t stay in the backyard so they run off somewhere and could be attacked with no human there to see it so how can we know? That dead cat in the maw of the coyote is sure sad.
    Thanks Michael.

  6. I think that cat is much faster and more agile and canclimb. It’s being caught by suprise that’s getting the cats. A one on one a cat would escape. But a suprise pounce is another thing since it’s not technically one on one until it’s too late for the cat.

    Red used to track and stalk foxes. Silly boy. It did worry me.

    • Perhaps the coyote preys on ill or old feral cats most of all. It is a bit like cats preying on ill or old birds. They struggle to catch fit birds which is why they prey many on rodents

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