I see a lot of notices posted on the neighborhood mailbox cluster similar to this mock-up, from owners trying to find their missing pet. As a long-time “cat person” I understand their concern, but I can’t understand how they could have allowed their pet to roam around outside where it is a threat to birds and other local wildlife, and how it is itself at risk.
The risk to pets that are allowed outside was made clear this morning as I was headed out about 30 minutes after sunrise for some bird photography: just 50 yards from our house I came upon a scrawny coyote crossing the main street with a large healthy cat in its jaws. There’s a desert wash that runs through the closely packed subdivision that is a perfect corridor for coyotes, javelinas, and probably bobcats that are resident in the wilds of nearby South Mountain Park. We have seen the damage after javelinas have been digging around the plants by our house, and my wife has even collected some coyote scat in our walled off back yard (coyotes can jump and climb over these six foot walls).
This morning’s coyote was the first I’ve actually seen in the subdivision. As I got closer in my car the coyote dropped the cat to the pavement and scurried off into the wash while keeping a close eye on me. The cat was obviously dead already as I drove up to it, so at least I didn’t have to deal with trying to save it. I alerted a woman out walking her small dog about the nearby coyote and she quickly moved to the other side of the street. I was glad to see her dog was on a leash.
As I departed I could still see the coyote about 30 feet up the wash, so I wasn’t surprised to find the cat no longer present when I came home four hours later.
The coyotes and other wildlife were here first – we are the intruders into their world when we build our houses. The coyote was only doing what is natural for it. The cat is not a native species and is not a natural part of the local ecosystem. It really had no business being out. The cat is dead because the owners didn’t care enough about it to keep it indoors where it would have been safe from predators, and cars, and other hazards or our semi wild suburban neighborhood. If you really love your pet cat please keep it indoors.