High-cat diet

There are a lot of good reasons to keep your cat indoors – disease, cars, the devastating impact of cats on local bird populations – but one that may be less obvious to some is coyotes.

All this rings true to Niamh Quinn, a human wildlife interactions adviser at the University of California at Irvine, who has done similar studies at her lab. Quinn, who is not involved in the park service research, has done DNA analysis on the stomachs of more than 300 coyotes that became roadkill.

It’s a bit of a grisly process: first the researchers use a sieve to sift out the stomach contents, looking for hard parts like fur. “We have found baseballs, shoes, furniture, bedazzled jewels,” she adds. Then the contents are put into a blender, whirled around and placed into a machine for DNA extraction. Her latest research, yet to be published, has used DNA to confirm that cats form at least a fifth, if not more, of coyotes’ diet

7553907574_f413a2df62_hI love cats, I have had cats, I think they are wonderful pets, but a coyote eating a cat is just nature at work, and doesn’t change my view that coyotes are beautiful and intelligent animals that should be respected. They don’t make great neighbors in cities, but this is what happens when human habitats encroach on animal habitats. (You see a similar story with cats and dogs vs gators in south Florida backyards.)

I wouldn’t have guessed that cats make up a fifth of the coyote diet in a place like LA, but, I guess between feral cats and wandering pets, there’s a lot for them to graze on.

So seriously, keep your cat inside.

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