“Serial, ritualistic killers” of cats are coyotes not humans

On both sides of the Atlantic, in the UK and in America, there have been stories on more than one occasion of deceased outdoor domestic cats being killed, on the face of it, by a cat killing person who liked to mutilate the cats sometimes by dissecting them into two pieces as if with a scalpel. The distinct impression given to the public who saw the cats and on occasions to the police is that the individual could go on to kill people such was the apparent ritualistic nature of the crimes.

Do coyotes eat cats?
Coyote pack hunting a cat. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


A recent story from Calgary, Canada serves to highlight the problem. In Haysboro, a residential neighbourhood in the south-west quadrant of Calgary, Alberta, there was a series of domestic cat killings. They weren’t only killed but their bodies were found in two or more pieces. The impression given was that they had been cut apart surgically with a scapel which created a lot of consternation amongst the residents. The observers could find no bite marks or wounds. It was if the cat had simply been cut in half; the lower half (caudal half) cleanly separated. I’m sorry if that paints a picture which is unacceptable but it has to be described in this instance. I won’t show any photographs however.

Collingwood coyote signs. Screenshot.


About a year ago, in Croydon, South London, UK, there was a very similar series of serial cat killings in which the dismembered parts of cats were left lying in what appeared to be a ritualistic manner in the front yards of houses and other prominent places.

In the Calgary cat killings it was decided that coyotes were responsible. In the South London killings it was decided that foxes were the culprits. People could hardly believe it and they thought that the police were washing their hands of the case because they couldn’t find the person responsible. The matter has gone quiet indicating that people have accepted the verdict.

coyote distribution
Coyote distribution

Study – strong evidence that coyotes are respsonsible “A Forensic Pathology Investigation of Dismembered Domestic Cats: Coyotes or Cults?”

I have come across a study concerning necropsy (autopsy) results from 53 cats in the cities of Edmonton and St Albert, Canada from 2007 to 2016. The study supports the assessment of the police in both the Calgary and London cat killings. It is surprising. One reason that people find it hard to accept is because they are generally fearful of serial cat killers of the human kind because there is a not insubstantial amount of animal cruelty.

But in the study, the scientist decided that with respect to 68 percent of the deceased cats the killing was by coyotes preying on the cat. On careful inspection there were puncture wounds and bruises. In 15 percent of the cases it appeared that the coyotes were scavenging on cats that had been killed by some other means such as in a traffic accident. Of the remaining 17 percent, there was no clear evidence to indicate that the deaths were at the hands of a person although the cause of death could not be established because of insufficient tissue remaining.

The researchers also decided that there was no evidence in the Alberta cats to indicate that there was a group of people involved in cults and ritualism. Essentially, they dismissed the possibility of animal sacrifice, Satanism of voodooism behind the killings.

In contrast, they said that there there was a lot of circumstantial evidence to support predation by coyotes. It’s well known that they attack and kill domestic cats in urban areas throughout North America. In one study there was a six percent occurrence of cat hair in coyote scats (faeces) indicating that six percent of coyote prey in that study was domestic or feral cats.

Also, 80 percent of the cases of cat deaths in the study took place during the usual period of dispersal for coyotes (from their natal area) and their rodent prey (August and September). Also, this finding is consistent with coyotes in late summer training their young to hunt.

Although it is uncomfortable to discuss, the scientist said that the separation of a deceased cat into two pieces may come about because two coyotes have grabbed the body and are pulling in opposite directions. Alternatively, a coyote might shake a cat to the point where the cat is dissected into two halves. The cats are dissected at a point where their spine is at its weakest.

The overwhelming conclusion of the researchers was that the deaths were by coyotes. Reporting of dismembered domestic stray cats is likely to rise in the future because of the increases in both feral cat and coyote populations in cities throughout North America.

The study was by P. Nick Nation and Colleen Cassady St. Clair.

Some more articles on coyotes

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For illustrative purposes: Forensic veterinarian Margaret Doyle and Constable Dennis Smithson view an X -ray of a deceased cat. Photo: Jeff McIntosh.

When coyotes kill cats the cadavers give the impression that a psychopath has killed them

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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