Study Finds Outdoor Cats Easy Prey for Coyotes, Recommends Keeping Cats Indoors


For Immediate Release
Contact: , American Bird Conservancy, 202-234-7181 ext. 210



Coyote. Photo: National Park Service
Coyotes often stray into urban and suburban areas where they can kill free-roaming domestic cats. Photo: National Park Service

(Washington, D.C. July 2, 2009) Coyotes regularly feed on outdoor cats, according to a scientific study, Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions by Shannon Grubbs of the University of Arizona and Paul Krausman of the University of Montana published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The researchers tracked coyotes in Tucson, Arizona and observed 36 coyote-cat interactions, of which 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats.


Other studies have found that approximately 13% of a coyote’s diet consists of cats. However, during this study, in the 45 instances when coyotes were observed feeding, 42% of the meals were cats. The researchers concluded that any cat outside is vulnerable to coyote attack, and recommended that cat owners keep their cats indoors.


This finding raises questions about Trap, Neuter, and Release programs (TNR) that catch feral cats, neuter them, and then release them back into the wild. American Bird Conservancy has consistently raised concerns about TNR programs because these cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and also because TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves.


“Well-meaning but misguided TNR practitioners are creating unsafe conditions for domestic cats by releasing them back into areas where they may become prey for coyotes and other predators,” said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy. “Providing an all-you-can-eat buffet for coyotes is not a sensible solution and we urge states and communities to reject this inhumane approach to the feral cat problem and require responsible care of pets and the removal of feral cats from the wild."


Despite this risk of predation, TNR has been adopted in areas with large coyote populations. Arizona’s Maricopa County, which is the fourth largest county in the country with nearly four million people, has adopted TNR.

“County officials are wrong when they say TNR is an effective and humane solution,” said Schroeder. “The truth is that TNR fails to eliminate cat colonies, and instead perpetuates many of the problems these colonies create, including the predation of birds and other wildlife, risks to human and wildlife health, and public nuisance. Feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds each year, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.”

American Bird Conservancy recently produced a new, short film “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds,” which reveals how Trap, Neuter, and Release is failing to substantially reduce cat numbers despite advocates’ claims, and is contributing to the deaths of millions of birds each year including endangered species.



American Bird Conservancy (ABC) conserves native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately protected; that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation; and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain viable habitat. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.