Coyotes can be a real pest, especially if you have outdoor pets. The further into their territory humans encroach, the more interactions people and domestic animals have with these wild canines.
Unfortunately, some of the items and activities associated with humans and pets tend to attract coyotes, bringing them even further into situations that can be dangerous for all involved. One of the items that many people leave outdoors that has the potential to attract coyotes is cat food.
Will Coyotes Eat Cat Food?
Yes, coyotes will eat cat food. They will eat just about any food they come across, really. Coyotes are primarily scavengers, which means they will eat the foods that are most accessible to them, and what’s more accessible than a bowl of cat food sitting on someone’s back porch or in their open garage?
Cat food is highly appealing to a variety of animals other than cats because of its high protein content and palatability. Leaving cat food out can attract more than just coyotes. It’s also known to attract raccoons, skunks, opossums, rats, and mice.
When you leave something out that attracts certain animals, you have the potential to unintentionally create a miniature ecosystem, with predators being attracted to the prey animals attracted to your cat’s food.
Will My Cats Be Safe if Cat Food Is Available to Coyotes?
Leaving cat food out is absolutely not a guarantee of the safety of your cats. In fact, by attracting coyotes to the area, you are likely increasing the risk of your cats being attacked by coyotes. Even though coyotes are primarily scavengers, they are predatory animals that can easily kill a cat.
There is a misconception that coyotes will send out a scout to lure domestic animals away from safe spaces into the waiting jaws of the pack. Not only is this untrue, but coyotes typically hunt alone. There are instances in which they may hunt within small family groups, and in some cases, coyotes have been known to hunt in partnership with other species, but they don’t lay traps to catch your pets.
Trap-laying rumors aside, coyotes are strong, fast predators that can easily catch and kill a cat. By having cat food out, you may attract a coyote into closer proximity to your cat. Even if the coyote comes into the area looking for an easy cat food meal, they may walk away with a cat for a meal.
How Can I Keep My Cat Safe?
The best way to keep your cat safe is to keep them indoors. There are a lot of threats to cats that live outdoors, and coyotes are only one threat. If your cat is feral, a barn cat or mouser, or anxious and unhappy indoors, then you need to take steps to keep their food in a place that reduces the attraction of predators.
If you can put your cat’s food somewhere indoors and secure, then you’ll be setting your cat up for a safer space. Ideally, the food should be on the other side of a cat door that is controlled by your cat’s microchip or collar tag.
When this isn’t an option, try keeping the food inside a shed or garage. Keep the door open just enough for your cat to come and go freely. If possible, put the food on a high surface that your cat can safely reach but that is high enough to deter visiting animals.
Leaving cat food out in the open can attract coyotes, along with a slew of other critters. Coyotes can also be attracted by outdoor cats, and if your cat’s food is attracting coyotes, then your cat is being put in danger.
Coyotes can and will kill a cat if given the opportunity. The safest thing for your cat is to keep them indoors, but when that isn’t a possibility, it’s important to come up with creative ways to keep your cat’s food inaccessible to visiting animals without your cat losing access to their food.
Featured Image Credit: Mariomassone, Wikimedia