Living in the city, the suburbs, or in a rural area, has given some people a preconceived idea that there pet is safe from just about all dangers. After all we are living in very modern times. However, despite modern times and the progress that man has made, the laws of nature are still around, just about EVERY WHERE. Laws of nature, are what they have always been, except the wild animals that lived and hunted in the woods, along creeks, and river banks now have to compete with humans for their very survival. Survival means finding and living on the fringes of what was once a place where a particular animal had suitable habitat to hunt food and raise its young. Since we humans have now encroached where these animals previously lived and hunted, we have diminished greatly, the ability of these animals to live and find food so that the species is perpetuated.
This means that some animal species have learned to adapt and to become an opportunist. Some animals adapt, to an ever changing natural habitat and have learned how to supplement their food sources with the spoils of what man has made available to them. So now we are faced with predators that the streets and yards of the city dweller or the suburbanite. Here the predator has learned that it can find food. And the food just happens to be that dog or cat that is allowed to roam free because its owner just can not bear the thought of restricting their pet’s freedom. After all, why not let that pet get a taste of running free through those trees and down to the creek for a swim. The pet owner really has no concept of what awaits little Fifi or Fido. Lurking just around a tree or bush is a fox, bobcat, or coyote lying in wait to grab some food for itself or its young.
So the pet owner is dismayed when their cat or dog does not return to the house and where, oh where, did that pet stray. Did someone steal the pet or did it get lost? The answer probably 90% or more of the time is that the cat or dog was grabbed by a predator as an easy meal. Since the wild predator knows other meals are probably in the same setting, it will begin to frequent the suburban semi wooded neighborhood. Some of these predators have become bold enough to come into areas where there are no homes- just businesses. Here too, the predator finds a meal in the form of discarded food in trash cans and feral cats that live in the city.
Yes, sad to say but this is not a new phenomenon. Its been going on for many,many years and the sudden disappearance of pets is happening everywhere. Years ago, a lady told me that she and her family were visiting a farm with their small dog. As they walked about the property the family stood atop a tank, (pond) dam and from out of nowhere a coyote grabbed their small dog and all the family could do was shout and watch helpless as the coyote took their beloved pet away to eat as an easy meal. After all, the coyote did not even have to chase anything down. The predator saw a meal and turned it into an opportunity.
How did I arrive with these so called facts? I have read articles concerning pets and predators. Game wardens and other wildlife experts have given me information about the problem. I myself have lost several cats and I am 99% sure a coyote, bobcat, cougar, or fox caught them. Our home is in, what could be considered a wooded area where these predators live, in undeveloped habitat. There are also deep ravines and creeks (streams) My husband was always slow to close the backdoor so a cat at times would slip out to the great outdoors. I worked the evening shift for not quite 35 years and I have seen coyotes and fox running down our driveway at night. I’m sure my “lost” cats met their demise in the jaws of a predator. I now have special wire enclosures which built by a carpenter in two places where my feral cat colony lives. My cats have the fresh air and some freedom outdoors but as the same time safety. In fact my “cat barn” was highly praised by various people.
There are numerous ways to safeguard your pet from a predator. 1. Do not let your small to medium size dog outdoors without you holding the leash. 2. Do not leave uneaten dog food for the raccoons are stray animals. 3. If you have a cat/s DO NOT ALLOW them the freedom of the great outdoors.
Now you are probably thinking that a chain link fence would keep your dog/s safe or that your cat NEVER LEAVES THE YARD. I don’t want to burst your bubble but coyotes, fox, and bobcats can and do climb fences to go after prey. And as far as trusting your cat or dog to never leave the yard is akin to letting your toddler play near the street and expecting that your child JUST WILL NOT GO AND PLAY IN THE STREET. After all, you told your child that “Mommy will be right back and you stay right here in the yard.” Just as your child is not immune from being kidnapped by an evil person or hit by a car, your child does not have the ability to remember he/she should not play near or go into the street. This is the best analogy I can think of, even though all of the afore mentioned is gruesome and depressing.
Your pet is like a child. It is vulnerable to all manner of harm besides getting run over by a car, attacked by a stay dog, shot by an animal hating neighbor, or stolen for pit bull bait, sold at a flea market with fake AKC papers, sold to a laboratory, or cults that practice witchcraft and that use pets (most often a cat) for sacrifice. So you say you’ve never heard of such. This also is a reality, although it is difficult to say how prevalent in various areas. More things to make you really cringe: great horned owls, hawks, and eagles are capable of picking up a cat or a very small dog.
Next post I’ll give you some ideas of how to protect your pet but allow it fresh air and some freedom with an attached wire enclosure that has added reinforcements so that a predator can not chew its way into your cat or dog’s playground. In the meantime peruse the Internet and type in cat enclosures and see what information you can find. If you are ingenious, you can make your own to attach to a portion of the back of your house. An enclosure can be made into an attractive safeguard for your pet. After all, your cat or dog deserves to be safe. Is your pet more or less a member of your family?
I highly recommend the book, The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton. ( web site photos and blog are excellent ( www.thedailycoyote.net ) It is a great read and wonderfully written by a young and gifted writer and photographer. This book will give you a perspective about the coyote from a different view point but at the same time the writer informs the reader how destructive the coyote is to ranchers. I can add farmers to that as well. I was born and raised on a black land farm in Central Texas and I know from personal experience what coyotes can do to vulnerable livestock, poultry, and house pets.
So better to be safe than sorry. Keep that furry member of your family safe.