Do Bears Bother Cats? Plus Cat Predators You Need to Know

While a bear could theoretically attempt to eat a cat, it is not likely that they would.

Only around 30% of a bear’s diet consists of mammal meat, and they aren’t likely to cross paths with a cat. Even if they did, a cat is sure to fight back.

When it comes to the food chain, cats are well-positioned. However, that doesn’t mean that cats can go about their lives unbothered in the outside world.

Some animals, such as coyotes, can pose a serious threat to outdoor cats. However, some other animals that you would imagine pose a danger to cats, such as bears, are not actually predators to them.

While cat’s relatively small size may appear to make them easy targets for larger animals, their agile movements and uber-sensitive senses mean that they are not an easy target.

In fact, cats are known less as a helpless victim but more of a fearless hunter, with some scientists even estimating that they could be the number one killer of birds. To better understand the roles that cats play in nature, here is an overview of the five most common predators and five most common prey of the common housecat.


Five Predators of Cats

1. Coyotes

As mentioned earlier, coyotes are not a friend to house cats. While they can be found almost everywhere in North America, they are most likely to be found in flat grasslands or forested areas away from people. Sadly, due to habitat destruction, many coyotes are creeping into high-density urban areas.

If you have not seen a coyote before, they are comparable to mid or large-sized dogs. However, they are much wilder than their canine cousins. They can run at incredible speeds and live in mysterious dens tucked so far away out of human reach that it’s nearly impossible to find them.

Unfortunately, cats are easy prey for coyotes. In order to keep your cat safe from the threat of a coyote attack, it’s really best to keep him or her indoors.


2. Raccoons

While coyotes may be adapting more and more to the bright lights of city life, there is one other animal that has the entire “infiltrate human development” thing down to a science. I’m talking, of course, about raccoons.

Raccoons can be found virtually everywhere in North America, with the one exception being highly-mountainous areas. Humorously, the city of Toronto, Canada, is actually known as the Raccoon Capital of the World. In Toronto, raccoons have famously made their way across the city’s subway system, and on top of construction site cranes.

While a raccoon will most likely not go out of its way to bother a cat, that doesn’t mean that they can’t do some damage if provoked. According to the Humane Society, raccoons will only look at cats as a possible food source if they are completely starved for sustenance.

Given the fact that raccoons can use their thumbs to open up just about any type of garbage container, this predicament doesn’t seem likely.


3. Cougars

Although they used to be found across the continent, nowadays cougars are mostly found on the western portion of North America. Here, they prefer the coverage areas with high coverage, such as dense forests or even mountains.

Although cougars won’t normally attack house cats (or humans, for that matter), they certainly have the power to do harm if they need to. They have muscular bodies and can run up to 45 miles per hour. Furthermore, they have powerful claws and unmatched strength.

Luckily, it’s not likely that your cat is going to be roaming the peaks of the Rockies anytime soon. It’s best you keep it that way.


4. Snakes

It may seem strange that a slim, narrow snake would be on the list of cat predators, but they certainly deserve a place.

Many snakes are capable of eating prey that is much bigger than their size and some snakes like the boa can grow to large circumferences.

Fortunately — for North Americans at least — many of the snake species who are large enough to swallow a cat are not native to the continent and would only cross paths with your cats if they are being kept as an exotic pet. In order to avoid a snake versus cat mishap, be sure to keep your cat away from large snakes, even if they’re caged (you and I both know that cats are skilled acrobats).


5. Squirrels

The last entry on our list of feline predators may be the least likely one. After all, outdoor cats and squirrels are used to sharing the neighborhood with one another. This usually works well as squirrels and cats have different goals — while one wants to hunt nuts, the other is more interested in hunting birds.

However, squirrels have been reported to gang up in packs to attack cats. However, this is not a likely or common occurrence, and it’s quite likely that your cat would be a greater threat to the squirrels than vice-versa.


Five Prey

1. Birds

I would be remiss to start off this list of cat prey without first mentioning birds. As we claimed earlier, cats play such a threat to bird species that some experts actually assert that all cat owners should keep their cats indoors for the sake of local bird populations.

Although there’s no denying that cats can be adorable, fluffy, murderers, there is a reason for this. Cats are natural hunters, and their prey instinct can’t help but step into high gear when a bird flaps its wings nearby. This isn’t an instinct built on pure evil, either — cats are omnivores and must eat meat to survive.


2. Frogs

Bad news for pond keepers — some cats can have an appetite for frogs. Although this isn’t most cats’ first choice when it comes to an afternoon snack, cats have certainly been known to hunt frogs now and again.

This may be a troubling thought, as there are several species of poisonous frogs out there. Many of us may think of poisonous frogs as having colorful bodies and living in a tropical Amazon-like rainforest, but there is at least one poisonous frog living in North America. Named the pickerel frog, this common speckled amphibian can secrete toxins from its skin. Pickerel frogs can predominantly be found across the Northern, midwestern, and eastern seaboard of both the United States and Canada.

It is important that you monitor your cat’s diet as much as possible. If you have reason to believe that they have consumed a toxic frog, contact your vet immediately.


3. Mice

It’s a dynamic so famous that it has even inspired an expression, i.e., “a game of cat and mouse,” but is there much truth to this famous pairing? It turns out that the answer is yes.

It’s a well-known fact among cat owners that cats go crazy for things that give chase. Unfortunately for the small, quick, mice of the world, their natural habits are the perfect formula required to attract cats. Experts theorize that cats don’t even necessarily hunt mice to kill them — it truly is about the thrill of the chase itself.

In years past and still to this day, if a homeowner is dealing with a mouse infestation, it is not uncommon for them to call in a cat to help them exterminate. Cats are efficient and effective hunters of mice.

However, not all house cats will actually kill a mouse, as some will much prefer to simply play with their prey instead. Stray cats or cats with a large amount of outdoor experience may be less forgiving.

Luckily for both cats and mice, the two species are very capable of smelling one another. This means that simply the presence of a cat on your property may be enough to deter even the most ardent of mice visitors.


4. Moths

This last category could simply say “bugs,” but I would wager that many cat owners can relate to the specific example of a moth. As moths are attracted to light, it’s common to find them inside our houses, often stuck to a lamp or overhead light. Of course, this is very exciting for our cats.

Your cat may or may not, munch on the misfortunate moth that has made its way into your house, but there is no denying that a cats are their natural predator. In fact, you could hardly design a cat toy as effective as bugs — no wonder their presence drives our cats nuts.

If your cat eats a moth, there is no reason to worry, unless it is in particularly large qualities. While some moths may have toxic powder on their wings, it would take a large number of moths for this to take effect on your cat.


Writer: Rachel Cribby

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