At The Cat Connection, we like furry tales with happy endings. But not all stories are fun to tell, and not every story has a happy ending. This week, we felt the need to tell a story that will make some of you sad, some of you angry, and some of you left wondering why. The story is about the growing coyote problem in Waltham. A lot of you may have heard stories about coyotes on the streets of Waltham or may even know someone who has seen one on the street or in their own yard. We have heard reports of coyotes everywhere from the Highlands to Cedarwood, Lakeview to Glen Meadow West, the Bleachery to Warrendale.
This past week, there were two witnessed coyote attacks on cats in the Highlands. One happened at about ten o’clock at night. This story is about a beautiful old male cat, once a feral, who was rescued years ago and taken in to live with his two humans. He was relaxing on the front porch of his home, like he had done almost every night for the past eight or so years. He was ready to go inside for the night. Suddenly, a coyote appeared out of nowhere. The cat’s owner watched helplessly, in horror. Nothing could be done now, he was gone.
The second attack happened on Sunday around six thirty in the morning. A gray cat that is seen frequently in this neighborhood had showed up on the porch for a morning meal. This homeowner feeds a feral cat that has been living outside in the neighborhood for many years. Stray cats and neighborhood indoor/outdoor cats are often seen eating the food that she provides. On this day, it was the coyotes that saw this cat eating. The coyotes come down from Prospect Hill every night to hunt. There have been coyote sightings from nine or ten o’clock at night up to about seven o’clock in the morning. This has been happening for years, according to neighbors in the area. This gray cat saw the first coyote and attempted to hide in the bushes. A second coyote appeared. The gray cat leaped and started to run across the street, and the two coyotes gave chase. The three of them disappeared out of sight behind a house, and the cat has not been seen since. We can only hope that he made it home safely, never to return. If his owner knew this happened, would he let him out again?
These are real stories. We always talk about the dangers of letting your cat roam free outside. There are numerous diseases and parasites that can attack your cat, cars that drive too fast, pesticides on the lawn and other poisonous substances that either make your cat mildly sick or in some cases cause acute illness followed by a horribly painful death. But coyotes are also a very real threat, even in urban areas. They no longer live only in the remote forests and hills. Their homes are being gobbled up by construction everywhere. They are always on the move looking for sanctuary and food.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that your cat is smart enough or tough enough to survive on the streets. The only thing your cat has on his side out there is luck. And eventually his luck may run out. Do you want to be the one to tell your children that their beloved pet was killed by a coyote? Even worse, do you want your children to find his half eaten body in the bushes? Yes, this is graphic, and we are sorry to be the ones to say it. But it needs to be said. The word needs to be out there. Please keep your cats indoors. Teach your family members to be cautious when opening doors to the outside. Check your screens to make sure they are secure. Cats escape homes all the time, and even the most cautious people may have accidentally let their cat outside. But please don’t let them out on purpose. They are domesticated animals, no longer meant to survive on the street alone. We as cat parents brought them into our homes to love and care for them. They wait around for us every day to get a scratch on the chin and a good, hearty meal. We wanted them as pets. We have bred them to be like that for centuries. They need our protection now. Please help to be the guardian and protector that your pet deserves.
We are The Cat Connection. But we want to extend this warning to people with small dogs and children as well. You may think your dog is safe in his fenced in yard or tied up on a run outside, relaxing on his front steps, or even inside a screened porch. Coyotes can and will dig under or climb over a fence to get to an animal they perceive as food. Those of you who walk your dogs up Prospect Hill or in any neighborhood known to have coyotes, please be cautious. Please be aware of your surroundings. Coyotes are out there. To people with children, show them a photo of a coyote so they can identify it. Tell them not to approach a coyote. They are considered to be shy around humans, but when they are hungry, sick or rabid, they can become unpredictable creatures. Coyotes that have adapted to live in urban areas like Waltham are not as afraid of humans as those living in the national parks. They can be more aggressive when searching for food. Be aware of this and protect your family and your pets. The Cat Connection thanks you, and your cat will thank you, too.