Do Owls Eat Cats? Fending For Your Precious Feline Friends

Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
The answer to, 'Do owls eat cats?' will leave you stunned.

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It is well-known fact that owls have the capability of attacking cats and even small dogs.

Owls become extremely active at night in terms of hunting for potential prey. These owls attack if they see a small animal, such as a cat or a mouse.

Many owl species are carnivores or meat-eaters. Small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and even other birds are prey for owls. Although these animals have been observed eating fruits on occasion, they are primarily meat-eaters. Dietary variation can be found when comparing different species of owls and where they live, as this influences the prey items available to them.

The food they eat may differ from species to species depending on the habitat they have occupied. Barn owls live in farmlands. They feed on voles, field mice, bats, and small birds. An eagle owl is one of the largest species of owl which usually is found in wooded areas. They consume voles, foxes, hares, rats, crows, ducks, sea birds, and sometimes even an injured fawn.

Screech owls reside in areas with mixed woods or deciduous forests. They usually feed on various types of insects, reptiles, mice, and any small bird. A great horned owl usually lives in woodlands, swamps, orchards, and agricultural areas. They eat mostly rabbits, moles, kittens, crows, doves, hawks, and squirrels. The young owls have the same diet as that the adult owls of their species.

When do owls attack cats?

Owls are nocturnal creatures. They are always active at night time, but they don't stay active for the entire night. Certain species have a preference for food.  Some owls are opportunists they will hunt whatever prey is available in the area. This is how pets such as domestic cats may end up as their meal. 

Indoor cats are not their favorite meal. It is fairly uncommon that an owl attacks a cat. This may be because the owl may not have access to their usual diet, they must rely on what is available.

Your cat may have caught another prey, such as a rodent, and the owl wishes to take it. Your cat may have trespassed on an owl's territory or its young. When defending their young, owls attack not only pets but also humans.

Do owls eat cats?

Yes. Owls hunt cats but not by preference or regularly. Owls tend to usually hunt rodents and small animals, but they can adjust to whatever is present when their favorites are not available.

Not all owls attack cats. Most owl species feed on rats, birds, frogs, and insects. But large owls like a barred owl can attack larger animals like cats, dogs, foxes, and hares.

Owls attack animals like cats, only because of these reasons:

  • The usual prey is not available for the owl so the owl attacks whatever is present. This may mean your pet cat.
  • They want to steal the food that the cat has hunted like a rodent.
  • The owl has to protect its young ones and its territories. If a cat invades its nest or its territories, the owl is likely to attack.
  • Owls have super sharp talons that can kill most cats with a deadly blow. They also have the benefit of flight which they use to take their victims by surprise.

Keep Your Cat Safe From Owls

Cats are curious creatures and have a tendency to explore, hunt, and roam outside.

The best way to protect your cat from an owl attack is to stop letting your cat roam outside during nighttime. Owls are nocturnal hunters. Keep all windows and doors closed so that your cat stays indoors.

Covering your patio for your outdoor cat is also a good idea.

Cats living in a rural area or an area with a lot of trees are more likely to get preyed on.

Owls are more active during some seasons. It has been found that owls hunt more during a full moon.

Small cats weighing less than 9 lb (4 kg) or kittens are more at risk of owl attacks as owls can easily carry them in comparison to a larger animal. Keep your cat indoors or always accompany them whenever they go outside.

If there is a large owl population in your area, contact your local wildlife service and ask for their advice on the breeds and hunting habits of the owls residing in the area.

Some owls attack larger animals but can't carry them. If your cat is attacked by an owl and survives, contact your vet. The scratches and bite marks from such attacks may cause diseases and infections.

Owls are protected and in some areas, hunting them is illegal. So even if you want to kill these animals to protect your cat, it is not recommended. Learn about the rules and regulations in your area and use preventative measures to avoid such attacks.

Breeds Of Owls That Eat Cats

The types of owls that can attack and eat cats are usually large. An owl's diet depends on its own size and species. An owl's diet is diverse and it can adapt itself to whatever food is available in its habitat.

The great horned owl is known to attack cats. They are big in size and are also known to attack and eat other small pets like puppies, birds, big rodents.

Eagle owl is another type of owl known to eat cats. They are one of the largest owls and anything they can kill are animals that they can pretty much eat.

You can find out everything to know about owls eating cats by reading this article!

How To Keep Owls Away

To protect your pet cat from becoming owl food, you should stop them from going out in the nighttime. But, keeping the cat indoors is not always possible. There may be situations when you are not around to protect them. You can take the following steps to protect them and prevent owl attacks:

  • Owls don't like bright lights and avoid them so keep bright lights outside your home.
  • Stop your cat from going out during the night by closing windows, doors, and other outside going points.
  • Owls are scared of loud noises. Use things like fireworks, alarms, or horns to make them go away.
  • Pay attention and learn the sounds owls make so that you know when they are around.
  • Place large birds as decoys in your backyard or lawn.
  • Motion detectors might be a good idea. Since owls are scared of noises and motion detectors have alarms.
  • Cat owners living in an area with a huge owl population should ask the local wildlife services for advice.
  • Devices that produce electric shocks can be helpful in stunning owls.
  • If your cat gets attacked and injured by an owl, visit the vet immediately. Wounds inflicted by owls on your pet cat may get infected and need treatment.

Other Pets At Risk

Owls that are large enough to prey on pets like the great horned owl may attack pets like dogs and chickens if they are without shelter and unattended.

They also favor other pets like rats, squirrels, opossums, ducks, geese, small owls, rabbits, mice, snakes, lizards, frogs, scorpions, insects, and dogs.


Written By

Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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