Any reader of this blog knows that Coyotes are predators but did you know that the family cat can be more of a cold blooded killer then the Coyote? Recent reports from biologists suggest that the common household cat is directly responsible for killing more then 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds each year and perhaps an equal number of small mammals. Granted, Tabby’s eat only some thirty percent of their assaults. More likely as not, they play with their victims first then offer the sometimes still moving target to the family household as a trophy. Nonetheless, the family cat is hazardous to all avian life!
CBS News ran an article comprised of studies done by the University of Georgia and National Geographic. A kitty cam (miniaturized video recorder) was used during these studies and recorded things never before seen in the life of the average household cat. Several important facts came to light that support the powers of the household cat’s predator abilities which, is seen more graphically in its larger cousins. First, the article determined that there are some 60 million domestic cats alive in the United States. Second, a study of the cat’s physical anatomy determined that felines are well suited for the life of a predator. The cat’s body from tail to nose has the widest flexibility of all animals. A cat’s paw can articulate much like that of the human wrist and hand, dogs can not perform this act. The retractable claws and padded paws allows the cat to silently stalk its prey. The cat’s spine can be 180 degrees out of alignment with no lingering effects. In addition to its flexible back, the front half of a cat’s body operates independently permitting faster sprints and turns then dogs. So why do I bring up the seemingly superior family cat in a blog about Coyotes?
Reports of Coyote habitation compared to the number of cats present in the same locations suggest that for what ever reason, cats do not thrive. Said another way, if Coyotes are present cats tend not to be present. Field studies reflect that cats stop hunting when Coyotes are around though not in every case. Cats that do manage to co-exist do so in the immediate vicinity of their homes. Apparently, cats understand their home turf provides some degree of security. While, in outlying areas and away from their home turf the cat’s security is less certain. One theory has it that while it is fine to be faster in short bursts when there is more then one hunter it may not be a great enough advantage for the cat. Coyotes are often seen as loners but during and for some time after pups are born Mom and Dad are teaching the pups how to hunt. The family forms a pack and hunts together until the pups are about eight to ten months old. Though there are no formal studies on the subject this author believes it is during this cycle that family cats begin to disappear. During daily walks of late Spring and into mid-summer it seems that pictures of missing cats become more numerous. The Coyote pups begin to range farther and farther from their family den eventually establishing their own dens and hunting areas. The original Coyote pair start their mating cycle anew ending their attachment to the former pups / now mature adult Coyotes. Could it be that we have the Coyote to thank for protecting migrating birds and other wildlife? More studies into this area of Coyote predation are needed!
Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!