News of the Wild
Coyotes Cause Cats’ Caution
Roger Di Silvestro
A NEW STUDY OF FERAL AND STRAY CATS near six parks and nature preserves in the Chicago area, home to some of the densest coyote populations on record, indicates the interaction of cat and coyote is a boon to birds and small mammals. Coyotes, which gravitate to city parks and nature preserves, sometimes prey on cats, which have learned to avoid areas favored by the canines.
“Free-roaming cats are basically partitioning their use of the urban landscape,” says the study’s lead author, Stan Gehrt, associate professor of environment and natural resources at The Ohio State University. “They’re not using the natural areas in cities very much because of the coyote presence there.”
As a result, Gehrt says, the coyotes protect the natural areas from cat predation on birds, small rodents and reptiles. Published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, the study is the first to show how coyotes and free-roaming cats share space and interact with each other in urban areas.