Cats In The Food Chain: Where Do They Belong
When you think of cats, the last thing you would consider is where cats belong in the food chain. In fact, thinking about cats in the food chain in any context isn’t exactly something that would cross your mind. We want to raise awareness and help you keep your kitty safe!
Many people out there will describe cats as independent creatures. And, compared to dogs, they are pretty independent. Cats, however, still rely on their humans to provide them with food, shelter, and protection from predators. Knowing more about these predators can save their life.
This might seem unnecessary for those who have indoor-only cats, but indoor-only cats can still dart outside at a moment’s notice, even if they’ve never ventured outside before. You never know if someone will leave a door or a window open!
Cats are VERY efficient killing machines. In fact, certain breeds of cats have the highest kill rate when hunting out of almost all other mammals out there. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have predators above them in the food chain. Here’s a list of animals that will eat cats, so beware!
Hawks, Owls, Eagles, Falcons
Hawks, owls, eagles and falcons are all birds of prey. They all have large eyes for excellent vision and long sharp talons for grabbing their prey. Hawks, owls, eagles and falcons eat small animals including mice, rats, and even cats.
Typically these birds of prey go for smaller animals, so a kitten would make an amazing meal for them. It’s unlikely that they will eat a large or fully-grown cat on their own, but that doesn’t mean they won’t gang up on one!
In the wild they often hunt together in groups called “packs” or “flocks”, which work together to knock down prey from their perches or catch it on the ground. The predators then swoop in for the kill and will start immediately enjoying their meal.
If you live in an area where there are birds of prey, be VERY cautious with kittens outside. If you have larger cats then be on the lookout for multiple birds working together.
Foxes Also Eat Cats
While most of the animals on this list are fierce predators, foxes are an exception. They can be found all over the world, from North America to Europe and Asia, and they live almost everywhere you can imagine: deserts, arctic tundra, and forests alike.
Foxes depend on their omnivorous diets to survive in a wide range of habitats. While they mostly eat meat (including birds, rodents and fish) they also enjoy fruits and berries when available.
Foxes, although rare, have been known to eat cats as well. Most of the first-hand accounts are about foxes eating kittens. But they will also go for elderly and/or sick cats as well. If you see a fox near your property, it’s best to make sure your cat finds its way inside ASAP.
Cougars And Other Big Cats
Cougars and mountain lions are a large cat species found throughout much of North America. They have been known to prey on humans, pets and livestock alike.
Cougars are also a danger to cats—even if they’re not actively hunting them because kittens can be easy targets for cougar predation.
Cougars prefer to feed on elk or deer but will eat whatever they can find if those animals aren’t available. If you see one in your neighborhood or near your house, don’t take it lightly!
Cougars are extremely dangerous and should NEVER be approached.
Wolves, Wolves, Wolves
When it comes to cats in the food chain, a wolf would LOVE nothing more than to have your kitty for dinner! Wolves are a large predator. They can attack cats, humans, dogs, and even other wolves. If it moves, and a wolf is hungry enough, then it may move in for the kill.
Wolves are natural predators of cats. A majority of us in big cities don’t need to worry about wolves. If you’re in a rural area then I’d be very vigilant about other predators on and around your property. (Or at least within striking distance of wherever your cat hangs out!)
Wolves are dangerous to humans which, in turn, makes them even more dangerous to an easier target like a cat. Because of how smart they are, wolves will often stalk their prey for a while, waiting for the perfect time to attack.
Bears, Oh My!
Bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They are opportunistic eaters, which means that if a bear finds something to eat, it will eat it. This also means that bears don’t have a great sense of what is food or not food.
A bear would love nothing more than to show you just where a cat’s place is on the food chain.
If you see a bear eating your trash or bird seed on your porch, do not approach the bear and try to get it away from the food (and definitely don’t feed it either!). Call your local forest/wildlife service or animal control immediately!
Bears are very strong animals with powerful jaws that can tear into an unsuspecting kitty very easily. They also have very sharp claws used for digging into tree bark to get at honey or insects hidden inside logs on the forest floor. These claws can cause painful wounds!
While bears prefer plants and insects when available, they’re notorious carnivores who will take advantage of larger prey when given the chance. Black bears—the most common kind in North America—can consume up to 20 pounds of meat in one sitting!
Dogs Will Attack And Eat Cats
Many people think of the stereotypical dog-and-cat rivalry as if they’re just two household pets who don’t always seem to get along. In most instances, that’s certainly the case. Sadly, however, stray and feral dogs may get desperate enough to eat a cat.
Your average dog won’t just seek out a cat for dinner. If your neighbor’s dog gets out and runs up to your cat there could be a fight, but the dog isn’t looking to eat your cat.
A stray or feral dog, one who is desperate for a meal, might eat your cat. Cats are very good at evading dogs, which is why stray and feral dogs would prefer to eat kittens or older/sick cats. Again, this is rare, but it does happen!
The last predator we want to talk about are snakes. Whenever you think of a cat’s place in the food chain you probably don’t immediately think of a snake as being a predator to cats.
Snakes are opportunistic hunters and many breeds of snakes love to eat small mammals. Obviously the size of the snake, as well as the size of the cat, will come into play as to whether or not the snake can actually eat the cat.
Snakes and cats both like to hunt and eat the same types of prey. Because of these similar behaviors, you will often find snakes and cats roaming the same places and hunting for the same things. (Again, this depends on the type of snake and where you live!)
How To Keep Snakes Away From Your Cats:
- Remove all standing water in the yard
- Keep trash in secured bins and containers
- Mow your lawn frequently
- Don’t leave your cat(s) outside unattended
- Consider snake repellant or even natural repellants like vinegar.
Cats Are Part Of The Food Chain And Need Protection!
With the exception of working cats, such as barn cats and bodega cats, we will ALWAYS advocate for everyone to consider making their pet cats indoor-only. From predators to motorists passing by, a cat being outside is just dangerous. Not to mention, sometimes the weather can take a toll on cats, especially if it gets too hot!