Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Are coyotes responsible for missing cats in town?

This post is contributed by a Longmeadow resident concerned about the appearance of a coyote in her neighborhood and its harmful effects on cats and our children.

Coyote- file photo
I am a resident in the Blueberry section of town.  We always have stray cats that appear at our back door, probably drawn by the indoor cats we have.  I have consistently fed a couple of “stray” cats ever since we’ve lived in town (14 years), although not the same strays-one will disappear, another will appear to take their place.  About three weeks ago I was awoken at 1 am by a cat growling outside my bedroom window.  The outside security light was on, and I was able to clearly see a coyote attempting to kill the cat (who was hiding in bushes along the foundation of the house).  The coyote ran off when I shouted at it.  The previous winter I had seen large pawprints in the snow paths around our house.  We are not located in an area with a lot of woods – my house is very near the elementary school, a suburban neighborhood with house lots no more than .40 acres.  We do not border Forest Park.  In the years I have lived in the house, I have observed opossum, raccoon, skunk, fox, and numerous deer in my backyard.  This is the first time I’ve seen a coyote.

I have noticed a number of posters about lost cats in Longmeadow.  I would strongly urge all residents to keep their cats inside.  No matter how much a house cat would love to be an indoor/outdoor cat, you are risking not seeing the animal again if a coyote finds it.  Coyotes are adept predators.  Over the years, I have taken one stray to the vet for puncture wounds (along both sides of the spine of the cat) that appeared to be cause by a predator biting the cat (he recovered), and one other stray that simply disappeared.  These are strays that live most of their lives outside and are experienced with other wildlife.  An indoor/outdoor cat doesn’t stand a chance against a coyote.

I’m hoping your forum could get the word out to the residents.  It is heartbreaking to lose a pet, and probably worse to have one just disappear without ever knowing what happened.  We might live in a suburb, but we share our suburban neighborhood with plenty of predators too.

Also, it is a good idea for residents to be aware of the threat of coyotes.  They are present in our neighborhoods, so making sure children are taught not to approach an animal (which looks a lot like a dog), and be aware when out walking by themselves or with their dogs is probably a good idea.

Thanks for your time.
Mary K. Lewonchuk

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