Coopers Hawks and House cats

landpimpMarch 29, 2004

For 3 of the last 4 years I have had the pleasure of having a pair of Coopers Hawks raise their young in my front yard. Since I have a home office I am able to enjoy their antics on an hourly basis. I am usually rousted from sleep at daylight when the first crow or jay begins to harass the hawks and the action is nonstop some days. I have seen the hawks feed on a wide variety of birds, but they seem to prefer robins, jays and mocking birds. Yesterday one of them flew about 10 feet above me with a prize catch.....a 4 foot long black snake. I have bird feeders in my back yard and have moved them closer to cover to provide them some protection. Hopefully the beasts will lurk at my neighbors bird feeders and leave the ones alone in my yard.....maybe I can add that to the restrictive covenants?.....anyway, there is one thing that I have been wondering about. I know that Coopers Hawks will occasionally dine on Grey squirrels and other rodents, but are there any confirmed cases of them dispatching a house cat? If so, I would love to witness this because house cats are useless creatures in my opinion and their only purposes is to kill songbirds even though their pots should be more than full from Tender Vittles. Does anyone know if house cats are palatable to Cooper Hawks? If so, I would be interested in ways to attract housecats to my backyard.....maybe some half opened tuna cans in the middle of the yard? Catnip perhaps? My neighbor who I dislike immednsely has an orange tabby that I dislike even more so. I need ideas folks. :-)

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No self-respecting (not starving) Cooper's would attack a cat. Way too big for the hawk. They don't mess much with mammals. Cats don't fly, so Cooper's hawks aren't going to mess with them.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 9:46AM
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Try to get a Golden Eagle or a Great Horned Owl to nest in your yard. Failing that, make it look like an accident.
(Just a joke).

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 4:23PM
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"are there any confirmed cases of them dispatching a house cat"

No. Cats are too big.

"I have bird feeders in my back yard and have moved them closer to cover to provide them some protection."
No ... you have CAT FEEDERS! Whenever you provide a permanent gathering place for prey, predators will also be attracted to that area (think antelope, lions and watering holes).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 8:41AM
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Well, in this case (and most others like it), "Cooper's hawk feeders."

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 9:02AM
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I hope you were just jesting Landpimp. I fail to understand the difference between a hawk eating your songbirds and a cat. Its nature for them all....nothing evil about. Only people getting into the act adds any evil. I would rather appreciate all animals and respect what they are, including housecats.....who by the way rid your neighborhood of vermin. I had a neighbor once who killed neighborhood cats because they nabbed a songbird or two. He also provided the cats with a 'cat feeding' site. He did this until I zealously observed him and got the evidence to call the police with. I just don't understand killing one animal over preference for another. And I didn't own a cat.....I just love all animals.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 6:57AM
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The difference is quite obvious: Cats are domestic animals, introduced by man for the purpose of being pets. They are in no way a "a part of nature". Hawks are native animals that belong outside, and their practice of eating songbirds is a part of nature. Cats are not supposed to be part of the ecological food chain. Songbird populations cannot sustain the predation of cats...hawk predation on the other hand keeps songbirds in check, but doesn't decimate them, mainly because there are a lot fewer hawks than outdoor cats in this country.

But now that feral cats are estimated to kill over a million songbirds per year and bird populations are suffering because of it, I'm completely behind the people who take action against outdoor cats, although I live trap outdoor cats and take them to the pound instead of shooting them. Cats belong indoors and it's the owner's responsibility to make sure of it.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 10:32AM
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I wish you would live trap the owners and take them to the pound instead. It is not the cat's fault. Better yet, how about a civil discussion with the pet owners? Perhaps they are simply ignorant of the damage their pets are doing. In addition - and aside from the threat you pose, inform them that keeping cats indoors is significantly better for the cat's general health and well-being.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 11:19AM
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I have never posted in this forum before however this topic hits a cord. My experience with cats is that they are highly evolved killing machines just like English Sparrows. A feral cat will only kill that which it needs to survive. A well fed barn cat or an indoor/outdoor house pet will kill 9x that of a feral cat for sport. This is a well documented fact. The prey is often left where it was downed, uneaten. Cats are not wildlife. They are an exotic invasive species brought over to this country by the colonists. Cats are non discriminatory predators. They do not belong anywhere but indoors. They carry and are capable of transmitting more diseases than I care to even list that can be and often are spread to wildlife and humans. Any feral cat should be trapped and humanely destroyed as is recommended by our Public Health Department. Spay and release is not an option for me any longer as I have never seen any of these animals being re-trapped for annual vaccines, de-worming, or parasite removal. Former house cats/strays should be trapped and turned over to an animal shelter- my personal opinion however there are those who would disagree and feel these should also be humanely destroyed. I have been paying the fee to get these former pets into non destroy shelters and I question whether this is the right action to take any longer as I swear some of the same cats have magically re-appeared at the base of my birdfeeders after I paid the fee to get them in to a new home with the intent that they would be kept inside. I use a HavAHart trap and keep it baited in and amongst my birdfeeders. Since I began this practice, I have numerous species of songbirds and raptors.

Civil discussions initiated by me with neighbors have resulted in nothing but hard feelings as there are those who against all readily available documentation persist in referring to domesticated cats as wildlife. I am done discussing this with these people as they fail to realize the rights of their cats end at their property lines. I do not allow my dogs to urinate and defecate anywhere on their properties or they would be screaming bloody murder by now because of brown spots in their lawn. I do not allow my dogs to chase down and kill their squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, or cats yet they allow their cats to come over to my property and urinate and defecate at will in my kids' sandboxes and in my native flower beds and kill my squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and songbirds? As far as I am concerned, feral/stray cats compete with my raptors for food. My raptors are extremely vulnerable to west niles and they do not need this competition right about now. It is unnatural and disruptive to the fragile balance that once prevailed. Do not think I hate cats. I have volunteered at animal shelters for years and I am currently bottle feeding two orphans that had the misfortune of being the offspring of somebodys indoor/outdoor cat that is now a road pancake. I own 7 spayed and neutered indoor only cats that have never once eaten anything other than their Iams. Mine have never been exposed to being ripped apart and eaten by a coyote or a stray dog and they have never been stolen to be sold to a lab for the purpose of dissection or vivisection or used as baiters to train pitbulls or as an entrée to an Asian restaurant. Mine have never been exposed to the cruelty of hostile youth who would torture them for fun just because hating cats is cool. My cats have also never been struck by a motor vehicle. My cats receive all of their vaccines annually and have never so much as spread one virus to any form of wildlife. I am fed up with people who feel I want outdoor cats hanging around here to control rodents. I get dumpoffs on a regular basis and they do nothing but mark their territory through my screens to let my cats know who is boss and spray my hay. If I wanted rodent control, I would buy a HavAHart mouse trap.

And no Coopers Hawks do not prey on cats nor do red shouldered hawks. The turkey vultures around here do feed on the cats that are roadkill so I routinely stop to shove the carcasses to the side lest these magnificent birds not be able to get out of the way in time of an approaching motorist. This being said, I will exit stage left, get off of my soap box, and duck behind it for cover as I respect my raptors and my songbirds and I am trapping and having these outdoor cats picked up by animal control and humanely destroyed as instructed to do by my Village and by the County Animal Control. Might I suggest those interested in restoring some semblance of ecological balance purchase a HavAHart trap and do the same. Real quick test to see if a cat is feral or not is to stick a pencil in the cage. If the animal attacks it or bites it, you most probably have a feral cat. If it backs up and away from the pencil, you probably have a former house pet. Mistakes have been made as occasionally, feral cats will back up and away from the pencil particularly if they are diseased. The no kill shelters do not like taking in "mistakes" as there arenÂt exactly enough homes out there for healthy and socialized cats they have available for adoption let alone a ferals.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 12:44AM
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Very well stated, Laura...on all points.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 5:52PM
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"A well fed barn cat or an indoor/outdoor house pet will kill 9x that of a feral cat for sport. This is a well documented fact."

Cite sources for you "facts" please. Two of my three well-fed indoor/outdoor cats have no interest in hunting birds, and the third is only successful with pigeons or an occasional dove. I have lots of birds using my yard ... I should have none, what with the three "highly evolved killing machines" strolling about.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 9:52AM
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You can't possibly be aware of all the birds, rodents, etc that your cat kills. We have a great documentary taped on this subject---they studied/followed house cats (well-fed at that) and documented what they killed. I think this is just a hard thing for people to come to terms with...cause cat-lovers who let their pets outside just want them to roam and have freedom. These people probably love all animals...and don't want to admit that their cats are killers. THey are by instinct though...they kill for fun...not just for sustenance.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 10:07AM
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Sorry if you are somehow offended by the thought that the little tabby curled up by fire can inflict all the damage it does on the ecosystem around it.

Keep your cats indoors, please.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 11:37PM
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Looks like the endless argument with emotion on one side and logic on the other. Personally I loathe cats whether they are house cats or the feral variety. They serve no purpose on this earth. If you want a pet, get a dog or boa. Those are my feelings. Now for some facts. The feral cat will soon be endangered since Wylie Coyote has now taken up residence in most of suburbia throughout the states. As awesome a sight as it is to see a raptor making a kill, it is even more of a spectacle to witness a coyote at top speed snatching a house cat up in a the middle of a field. Coyotes love cats and have learned that tasty morsels await them between the vast rows of dwellings we humans reside in. Think about this the next time you're awake at 2 AM......that sound that you don't hear is a coyote making off with your neighbor's cat. There is a god indeed. :-)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 1:00AM
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Landpimp, (limp what?) my feelings: cats serve a supremely valuable place on this earth.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 10:34PM
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Landpimp, after having rats take up residence under my pier and beam home and virtually destroying the pvc plumbing, I have acquired 2 cats that will become outdoor cats as soon as they are spayed. If they eat a few birds, so be it. I did not have a rat problem until my former outside cat died. Traps are not effective to control the problem and I do not like poison as I have dogs plus the poison also effects wildlife. Do not dismiss cats as useless until you have had hundreds of dollars in plumbing bills and gone without running water for months due to rat problems. We have a few ferals around here but I haven't noticed a great drop in the bird population. Owls, coyotes, and the neighbors dogs keep the feral population under control.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 1:01PM
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Scott and Laura,

Exellent points. To the cat "lovers?" I pose a couple of questions.

1. Why should your pet be my problem?
2. When your beloved "kitty" is reduced to postage stamp thickness in front of your home will you blame a speeding, carless driver.

Owning a pet is a responsibility, so please be responsible.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 4:32PM
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landpimp....there have been so many good points made- I can't believe that your hatred towards cats is palpable through my computer! How can you hate any animal that much? They can't think anyother way- they don't have the freedom to choose to change their actions. They react on instinct. If you are going to "hate" anything, channel your anger towards the humans who have allowed these animals, through no fault of their own, to run wild and unchecked. The cruelity inflicted upon these poor creatures is legendary and it is people like you who perpetrated it. NO animal deserves the treatment you are directing towards the cat. How can you choose to love life yet be so hateful towards one species. We have encroached upon too many animals living space and then complain when they eat our plantings and damage our cars when we hit them, with our domesticated animals we put them to sleep or slaughter them when they revert back to their wild ways. WE are the violent ones, not the animals. By the way, if we had not killed all the cats in Europe there would not have a bubonic plague.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 9:05PM
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The plague was not a result of the absence of cats. If it were, how did the plague exist for centuries elsewhere where cats also existed?

Cats don't eat many rats (the wild carriers of the fleas that carry the causitive bacterium, Yersinia pestis, which actually causes the disease). Cats certainly don't control rats in cities today, and they didn't then, either.

And just why would Europeans have spent a great deal of effort trying to kill all the cats that do eat mice? "We" (nor anyone else) didn't kill all the cats of Europe in any age.

Cats are the greatest killers of songbirds in North America. As many as 30 million are killed by kitty cats in just a single Midwestern state each year, according to one careful study.

If cats were kept indoors by their owners, there would be no problem. But they aren't. They are allowed to roam freely in wild areas and pillage the native wildlife. House cats aren't native to North America. They kill more wildlife than all hunters and poachers combined.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 8:50AM
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Cooper Hawk update. Only one of the two young ones appeared to have survived, but I cannot be certain. The one young one has stayed in the immediate area. Today I observed it eating some kind of bugs in my back yard....June bugs I suppose.

Now on to my favorite subject, housecats. Feral cats are not pets and nature must agree they are not pets. It pleases me to know that each night untold thousands of otherwise useless cats provide nutrition to animals which I love, great horned owls, coyotes, foxes, etc. Here is a site which sells predator calls to hunters and midway down the page you will note that housecat distress calls seem to be effective in bringing in those varmits.

Don't get me wrong, I think hunting is cruel, unless the hunter is a great horned owl and the prey is an otherwise useless feral kitty. :-) Nature has a way of balancing things out.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 12:09PM
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any time an actual study on how much wildlife cats actually kill is presented to a cat owner they seem to go into hazy dream as if they cannot comprehend 1 + 1, the data is always questioned and the cat lovers seem not care or just look the other way.

my best friend is deathly allergic to cats (she has an immune system disorder) and lives in florida, a state with a huge feral cat problem. her neighbors cats actually run into her house on occaision. since then she has set up a live trap and catches her neighbors cats on a regular basis. she has turned the cats (her neighbors along with some ferals) into the local shelter (several times) and has had several talks with her neighbor and to no avial - they keep coming back. her allergies and immune system cannot tolerate constant exposure to these cats. why should she have to put up with this?

her neighbors lack of concern of where her cat goes is very similar to other cat owners lack of concern for birds. not only are cats killing birds, but they are competing for food with raptors, many of which are endangered.

cats are definitely a concern in areas with microclimates and where loss of habitat has severly restricted certain species of birds.

cats are useful on a farm, but even farmers know they need to keep their cat populations in check to prevent disease spreading. in urban and suburban areas, cats should not be left to roam. i like cats, i just dont like cat owners who let thier cats roam unattended.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 5:24PM
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Umm ok i really do not know where you are getting this feral cat feeding predators crap from. I have both foxes and great horned owls here and i have had a indooor outdoor cat who is 9 years old now! He has had run ins with foxes in the past but they are not much of a threat. WHILE great horned owls (who weigh only about 4 pounds) have been known to take the odd cat (average 12 pounds) they DO not do this on a reg basis. YOu are forgetting cats are not defensless rabbits. We all know that by the marks some leave on dogs noses.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 3:21PM
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Oh and i would also like to add that i haVe MANY birds by my house who nest in the trees and who use the feeder we have out. All sorts of species! I often see new birds all the time. NOT ONE BIRD has fallen prey to a house cat either my cat or any other cat i have nEVER found the remains of any bird. THe feeder is up high on a pool the ccats could not get to the birds if their lIFE DEPeneded on it! FURTHERmore the cats that do come on our property ignore the birds because they know they could never catch them. Everyone is forgetting MOST birds are NOT that easy for a land preditor to catch SPECIALLY FAT lazy WELL FED housecats arent exactly very good hunters.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 4:00PM
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Cateyes the reason you have never found the remains of any bird is because your haven't made a thorough enough inspection.....of course it would require an autopsy of sorts. If you're the squeamish type, I'd be glad to volunteer my services the interest of science of course. :-)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 2:59PM
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" i have nEVER found the remains of any bird."

Cats tend to carry prey into an area where they feel safe, such as their owner's garage.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 7:24PM
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you dont know where we are getting information about cats feeding predators - i have seen two newspaper articles about coyotes being studied for their adaptablity to urban areas. (i bet if you did some internet searching you find alot more) i remember one article a few years back - they (DNR, i think) did a one day hunt- killed around 30 or more coyotees to thin an overly populated area, in a fairly suburban area near Peoria, Illinois. the coyotees were autopsied to study what type of material were in their digestive track - they were expecting to find garbage and scavenge type stuff - the most common find were remains of the domestic cat... now i dont have the exact date that was published but i clearly remember the photo of all the dead coyotees and the article. i also remember reference to other studies done throughout the country with similar results.

i couldnt find the article from our local paper on the web but here is different one from a chicago that does reference cats as a food source for coyotees in LA.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 10:31PM
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Yes it is nothing new about coyotes feeding on cats i was talking about the other animals.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 5:47PM
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My daugter said to me yesterday after a lecture about nature, predators, prey, etc......."Dad, face just don't like cats."

    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 3:53PM
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I have 7 cats and also bird feeders, and have never seen any of my cats with a dead bird, or even stalking one. They do, however, keep snakes and mice away from the house, which is an issue living in the woods. So as far as housecats killing nine times what a feral cat would, I just don't believe it. I work for a school system and spend nearly every day at home during the summer, and the cats are ALWAYS underfoot! The dogs, however, are a different story. Our hound regularly brings home rabbits, moles, squirrels, and yep, even a bird once. So let's hear it from the dog-haters, just to even things out! Maybe they should all be indoors, too! Oh, yeah, we live on 55 acres and my pets don't bother anybody - no one is even close to us!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 5:59PM
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Here we go again....

    Bookmark   August 18, 2004 at 5:26PM
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Interesting night readings and wow, what a group we are on this subject :) Passionate people, I love it.

My cat is primarily a housecat. She likes to go out when I'm gardening and does not bother my wild birdie friends but she give the lizards hell. Any lizard lovers out there? If so, I'm in someone's bad books, I suppose... She is scared of the mockingbirds' and jays so they've given her paws if she ever even thought of snagging a bird.

Also, we have 2 cockatiels and a Double Yellowhead parrot, which also gives her pause if she even thought about it, which she doesn't.

I do agree that feral cats and bird populations are a major concern. I live in a home that backs up to a Canyonlands preserve. We have a very diverse group of birds at our feeders. Needless to say, I keep an eye on my cat outside. To say that all cats need to be inside is a narrow view of a cats life. They like to be garden tigers at times and a responsible pet owner will make sure that they behave. Can't do anything about the lizard legs I saw sticking out of her mouth though... it was too late. I appreciate those little guys eating the bugs off my plants. Damn.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 12:58AM
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This is one "discussion" that will go on until the end of time. No one is winning here. And no one ever will. Period. Case closed.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 8:05PM
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Hold on, don't close the case yet. I'm new here, and shouldn't even make a post--you guys have probably been arguing cats and dogs for years (tee-hee). But I thought I'd try and be a voice of reason. Reason tells me that whatever animal I own, be it cat, dog, fox, wolverine, wolf, ferret, emu or camel, no way do I have a right to open my door and let it out to wander and become a nuisance by being offensive to others, encroaching on their property and disturbing their peace. It is strictly my responsibility as an animal owner to keep my animal contained and on my property, and not allow it to menace or disburb others. Period.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 2:34AM
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Hey, Landpimp, you aren't "part of nature" either. Maybe you'd like some nice poison tuna sandwiches on my back patio?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 10:41AM
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Brenda, you are wacked in the head.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 11:54AM
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Little boys dispatch of far more songbirds (and other wildlife) than do domesticated felines. Yes, your precious little babies... they all do it. I did it. We used BB guns, slingshots, rifles, shotguns, rocks, and sticks - all instruments of death. I guarantee that every man (and maybe even Laura) that has posted thus far has squeezed the life out of an innocent bird and enjoyed it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 5:20PM
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Thats a very valid statement okree except that it is not what we are arguing about here. We are well aware of the effects of
"little boys" on the bird population, but what we are saying is that stray and house felines are causing considerable damage to the songbird population. Read this:
Despite the difficulties in showing the effect most predators have on their prey, cats are known to have serious impacts on small mammals and birds. Worldwide, cats may have been involved in the extinction of more bird species than any other cause, except habitat destruction. Cats are contributing to the endangerment of populations of birds such as Least Terns, Piping Plovers and Loggerhead Shrikes. In Florida, marsh rabbits in Key West have been threatened by predation from domestic cats [11]. Cats introduced by people living on the barrier islands of Florida's coast have depleted several unique species of mice and woodrats to near extinction [12, 13]. I would also say that cats kill far more birds than children as one statistic states that they kill as many as 500,000,000 songbirds in north america annually. An astounding figure. House and feral cat populations are having a damaging impact on North Americas songbird populations, and no i have never squeezed the life out of any bird!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 11:49PM
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I thought I saw a coyotee in my backyard about a month ago. It looked pretty scrawny, it was eating birdseed. So far none of the cats have disappeared.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 10:52AM
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Thanks for that update Richard!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 10:35PM
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I should read here more often. What a bunch of uninformed feline lovers we have here. Little boys
with BB guns killing more songbirds than house cats? *lmao* What kind of dope are you
smoking? BB guns are as rare as purple teat threshers this day and age.....all kids play is soccer
and video games.....gotta wonder where those BB statistics come from....maybe the flat earth

Brenda I am part of nature. My species is at the top of the chain. If youre in the middle of the
food chain, that was your decision to become a member of a subspecies. :-)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 3:56PM
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Amen to that landpimp! I would like to see where those stats came from! As I said earlier, cats are responsible for the deaths of 10's of millions of songbirds every single year.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2004 at 6:55PM
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My question is this: Can a declawed cat kill a songbird? My clawless cat is an indoor cat (obviously, as I'm not a sadist); however, I do allow her to go out on my mother's enclosed patio when I am visiting her. And my father's back yard. So, it's a mystery to me how a declawed domesticated cat could "down" a bird, let alone kill it. But that is what it looked like when I went out to my mother's patio only to see my Ragdoll cat (a placid least around humans) sitting by a dead bird as she stared at me with a guilty look in her piercing blue eyes.

She also roams about freely in my father's large enclosed back yard. Since she is clawless, I was not worried about her killing any birds. Was I wrong? Also, there is now a Cooper Hawk landing in my father's yard, chewing up songbirds on an infrequent basis. This is what led me to find this thread. I was concerned that my defenseless cat might also find its way into Mr. Cooper's beak.

But after reading the first few post, I feel pretty assured that won't happen.

Finally, I agree 100% with those who say cat owners need to keep their cats inside their own property line. It is the epitome of selfishness not to do so. Just like it is extremely selfish for dog owners to allow their canines to bark their fool heads off�"depriving their neighbors of their "quiet enjoyment" in their own neighborhoods. Trust me, even if my cat did have claws, I would never allow her to roam around and become a nuisance--or an ecological threat. It irks me to no end that my father's neighbor's gargantuan tabby cat is always hopping the fence and terrorizing my cat. I have chased after it with a broom and screamed, hoping to shock it so it will never come back, but to no avail.

(BTW, before any cat lovers jump all over me and contradict my contention that I am not a "sadist" by telling me that if I declawed my cat, I am very much one [a sadist], please know that I adopted my now-4-year old Ragdoll when she was 7 months and she had already been declawed. ) OK?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Piperlori - Yes, a declawed cat can catch and kill birds and rodents and lizards. They pin the prey with their front paws and bite its neck to kill it.

The force of the pounce alone is enough to break the spine of small prey.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Ugh. Nature's a least if you're a songbird. Hard to believe that this (see photo) could do what you just described. But now that I know it's possible for my handicapped cat to be homicidal, I will keep a more watchful eye on her goings on.

Interestingly, my cat (never was that into cats until this one, by the way) shows absolutely zero interest in my father's cockatiels...even when she is sitting right next to their cage.

That being said, I'm sure it would be a completely different story were one of them to get out of their cage. Nothing like the thrill of the chase for a cat I have learned.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 12:14PM
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