Yesterday AM I let some of my dogs out into their big fence as usual. Immediately I heard several Coyotes yipping. I also had one of my cats run out and through the fence. What seemed like only seconds I heard a Coyote kill a cat near what sounded like at the edge of my grove and my 1st thought was "oh,no...the coyote got Smidge" my heart just sank! Dogs were going crazy and I quickly got them back in the house but had to leave for work. Luckily(not for the cat) it must have been a stray hunting in the ditch( about a block down the driveway) but seemed much closer! All is well but just how fast something could happen...

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Comment by Beth on November 15, 2013 at 6:46pm

We had an indoor-outdoor cat when I was college-age.  He lived to be 16 and died of natural causes.  We got him as an adult (found him, actually) and our best efforts to turn him into an indoor cat were unsuccessful.   And I have known any number of barn cats in my day.  

I think the big problem with cats is most of our birds here evolved in an area with few or no daytime-active ground predators.   They are used to threats from the air, but not the ground.  I have, on countless occasions, watched cats sneak right up on feeding birds and the birds don't notice, yet if a hawk goes over they are all gone.  The above-mentioned outdoor cat used to sit in my mom's berry bushes waiting for birds to come in.  

The problem is that if a cat kills a bird in summer when they are nesting, the whole nest is likely lost with only one parent to feed them. 

I do understand the need to keep mice in check, and most of the barn cats I knew rarely ventured far from the barn and so likely were not hunting birds.   But in cities, they really do a number on bird populations.  The free ranging cats that come into our yard stalk our feeders and frequently the birds don't take off til the cat charges; by then it's too late if the cat is any good (though quite a few aren't).  

I'm not in favor of forcing every cat indoors, but the feral colonies need to be brought under control.  Interestingly enough, a small study showed vasectomy-and-release is much better than neuter-and-release;  the neutered cats quickly lost their rank and a new intact male moved in.  The vasectomized cats retained their rank in the colony and still bred with females and fought off other males, but of course there were no kittens and so the colony rapidly decreased in size.

Comment by Anna Morelli on November 15, 2013 at 5:42pm

We live in the woods on 10 fenced acres.  We have Coyotes.  I love to hear their song at night.  We did lose one of our cats to a Coyote.  The cat was 3 yrs old.  We still have his brother, who is now 9 yrs. old.  I am allergic to cats and cannot have them in the house.  We have a small room adjacent to the garage and a pet door in the garage.  I feed at night and close the door to the cat room room until morning. When we travel I use an automatic feeder and the cat can still go out at night.  Both cats were adopted at 6 wks. 

There are different ways of life.  I agree with Linda about city cats, but in the country most people have cats as mousers, as well as having them as pets and that is indeed true to their nature.  Why is it that one cat died and the other is still alive and well in the same lifestyle?  Well, they had different personalities.  The one that died was outgoing, curious, confronted other cats, racoons, whatever.  We often took him to be patched up (and yes, both were neutered).  The second cat is leery of everyone and everything.  Some ( people and animals ) would rather live a day as a lion, than 100 days as a lamb.  There are people around us who keep cats as mousers in barns and do not bother to spay or neuter, actually relying on the coyotes to keep them in check, this I do not like, but that can also be debated.

Like Beth I feel that Coyotes are a valued part of our ecosystem and they cannot shop at Safeway to feed their family.  it is for us to learn their ways, take our precautions and realize that Nature has its ways and its wisdom.  My toy breed is NEVER off leash.  My Corgi runs around the property in daylight and goes out on leash after dark.  My 14 year old dog is never out of my sight and of HER hearing range.  Can something still happen? Yes.  One cat lost to Coyotes in 20 years  is sad, but not a bad record....  

Comment by Bev Levy on November 15, 2013 at 3:22pm

I am so glad they are all ok. I always turn my back lights on and look out the door before I let the dogs out at night because we are surrounded by park land and we get opossums ( Misty has killed 3) and raccoons. Fortunately the coyotes don't come that close.  

Comment by Linda on November 15, 2013 at 2:51pm

Jane....she is pretty!  Wanna hear another weird one?  We almost called our Smidget by Smudge..she had a black "smudge" across her face. 

Comment by Beth on November 15, 2013 at 1:46pm
Jane, I can sure understand why they make you nervous because you have land; we are in the city which is different. We have so many skunks that I could never let mine loose between dusk and dawn anyway....
Comment by Jane Christensen on November 15, 2013 at 1:28pm is a pic of Smidge(and Tank another adopted rescue) for you...she was one of my feral shed cats who now is a housecat...I called her Smidge cuz it sounded much better than Smudge...I also have 2 hand-me-down cats that are 15 & 16...luckily with our block long driveway....and 8 acres to run they don't usually leave the yard!

Comment by Jane Christensen on November 15, 2013 at 1:21pm

Hi Beth, I agree that feral cats are a problem. I have some but they are all fixed(at my expense) except a stray that has decided he lives in an outer shed. and when we have an available place in our house they come in to live but like to go out everyday. I have always had cats no one wanted or they would have lived a life producing more kitty's.

Even the 4' cattle panel fence scared me that AM even though I know I would have been out there they were closer than normal! They also will "lure" dogs and I am so glad to have a fence for them at 4AM so I don't have to much.

Comment by Linda on November 15, 2013 at 12:53pm

So glad that your crew is ok!  And I have to say especially Smidge...ya see my last tortie and white kitty was Miss Smidget lovingly called Smidge.  And my "name" on every single board I belong to is Smidget.....often called Smidge.

I understand what you are saying regarding feral cats.  It's sad that they are feral and it's sad that they become dinner.  I get very very ticked at people who cry because their pet cat or dog was killed by a coyote.  Why are you allowing either the cat or the dog to be roaming where coyotes are present..  If you love them, then protect them...that's part of the deal when they joined your family.  Same goes for those who allow their cats to run free in the city.  They get hit by cars, nasty people do very bad things to them plus I am sick of having my yard used as a litter box and finding dead birds in my yard.  I have always had 3 cats at a just works out that way...they are housecats.  They live an average of 17-20 years and my next door neighbor is amazed.  Well..don't let your cat out and he might live that long.  Sorry...that is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Comment by Beth on November 15, 2013 at 12:08pm
I think I am in the minority here in not being afraid, but I have (I believe) heard them, seen them, and seen scat by my house (again I'm pretty sure; none of the above are 100% sure things, but the weight of the evidence suggests it). And my gut reaction is that I can only hope it does something to put pressure on the enormous feral cat population we have living in the woods.

I love kitties, but they don't belong in the "wild" and really do a number on songbirds and the like. They are not meant to be part of our ecosystem. :-(

Usually when coyotes move in, feral cat populations start to drop a bit. Coyotes are filling a niche long vacant in the East. We are not used to big predators among us, but they truly do belong here and if we just use sensible precautions our critters should be safe.

However, I have had trouble spreading the word to those by me who own tiny toy dogs. They let them play off leash near the edge of the woods in late evening sometims. I do worry something may happen. :-(
Comment by Anna Morelli on November 15, 2013 at 11:21am

Glad all is well.

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