Helping Ferals in Coyote Territories
Our rescue has had a history dealing with medium size "cat killing" neighborhood dogs, and now coyotes are moving in. We've had to get a bit inventive and we are always on the lookout for ways to keep the cats in our colonies safe. If any of you reading this have any other tips or tricks to keep the coyotes less interested in cats as snacks, please let us know so we can use and share the ideas. We have no idea whether any of this stuff really works, as coyotes are very clever and amazingly good at adapting to new things. All we know is that they prefer to avoid people, and if they can go catch something to eat in a quite safe place they will choose to do that over a place with activity going on.
We haven't found anything yet that is totally guaranteed to keep cats safe other than keeping the cats in, but there are things we have learned from other colony people, from our own experience, and a lot from people that raise poultry and sheep. We did get a tip from a Facebook posting that was cut off. Someone commented that one of the best ways to keep coyotes away was to use human urine around the colony periphery. That sounds kind of gross but probably works. A lot of the sheep and chicken people recommend wolf urine and that is something that is sold online if you get the urge to try it. I haven't tried either yet. I know the people version won't work on the dogs. I doubt that they'd care less.
We are fortunate in that our colonies are almost all rural, and on property where we have some control. That makes a big difference. For those of you dealing with colonies on public land, in parks, cities, or places where you can't control their environment it is almost impossible. Please let us know if you come up with things that work
We are lucky enough to have colonies where we have people on site to care for the cats. First thing we did was examine the area that the cats eat in and spent the most time in. We try to put feeding stations in places that are not real flat and that have things that the cats can hide under and as many trees and things that a cat can climb in a hurry. The best way to keep them safe if you can't fence them in is to give them places that allow easy escape and lots of places to hide.
If there are not a lot of trees we try to find tall things that a cat can climb into to be out of reach, but coyotes can climb fairly well, so you want something a cat can get claws into to get a grip, but not so rough a coyote can get a grip with his feet and follow. And, you need it pretty high so a coyote can't just jump up. Open areas without trees can use posts that are rough wood and cat climb-able about 8 feet tall with a platform at the top so if something is chasing them they can climb and escape. Space them around the open spaces.
We put out large heavy housing boxes that a cat can get into, but a coyote can't. Heavy untippable housing set up on a few blocks with the entrance hole, or holes to the house facing the ground work well. Even if the coyote digs his way under he can't get in where the cat is. Watch for places where any predators have been digging to get in and fill them back up so there is space for a cat to get thru, but nothing bigger. We have some houses with a barrier inside of the house to hide behind to make the cat feel safer and some with holes at the top as well for an escape route. They are generally safer staying in.
We put up fencing where we can to keep as many of the ferals inside an area, and make sure that a cat can get back inside it easily if they get out, but a coyote would have a hard time getting in. We use tall cat proof fence in some spots (shown in this photo) so that the cats can climb into it without much problem and it keeps a lot of the cats in where it is safer.
Other spots we just go with a simple fence about 6 ft tall but the bottom of the fence we make out of concrete blocks. We found some blocks that have holes in them just the right size for a cat to run thru to the other side. The fencing starts on top of that.
If there are old cars or anything sitting around that the cats can run under we use concrete big hole blocks for that too.
This will give a lot of our cats more neutral zone area. Even if we can't fence in everything, we put little fenced islands around the food and water if we can, and around any good hiding places. Even if a fence or a barrier is just a short run like 6 feet, if a cat can go thru it and a coyote has to go around it gives the cat a better chance to escape. Anything to keep the cat going full speed and slowing Mr Coyote.
Make You're Property Predator Proof - Part 1
When we use electric fencing: The electric part goes down near the bottom on the outside of the fence, up about a foot off the ground, and out from the fence about 4 inches like in the YouTube video above. This keeps the coyotes out most the time. They hit it if they try to climb or dig under. Only the ones smart enough to try to jump over that would be able to get in, and there is usually something easier to catch elsewhere. The cats learn to avoid the electric wire pretty quickly - we run it low voltage for a day onto so they learn to just start climbing the fence above it, or not to touch it when running through the blocks, then we crank it up to coyote levels.
We try to keep colonies centered closely around someone's house if we can because that in itself is a deterrent. Coyotes will often go where there is less activity. Where we can't get close to people we try to make it look like there is activity. We use solar powered motion detector lighting; Solar flashing twinkle lights made for gardens; Predator guard lights (also solar powered) that supposedly look like there are other predators already there. Make sure these things are well camouflaged, hidden or chained down so jerks don't steal them.
We also have some tricks we use where we have electricity available. We rely heavily on Halloween post holiday sales. Some of the Halloween motion lighting is great. They make lights you can mount and aim that project ghosts or other images (we like the ghosts because they look more human and have distinct eye spots) and when the light is running the images move around. They have a remote control to turn them on and off so we just punch the on or off as we think of it when we get up in the night. They could be hooked to timers as well. One of our best tricks with electrical help is a fan inflated dragon. The fan keeps him upright like those snaky tall waving puppet things like you see mostly at car lots or car washes. They wave back and forth, the arms or wings wave wildly and the one we have has lights so it shows in the dark. We turn it on some nights and not others, or part of a night. Anything to make a presence unpredictable so the coyotes are never sure when people might be lurking, because coyotes are smart and if something is the same every night they learn it is not a threat. You have to keep them guessing and make it easier for them to just go catch their normal prey.
Unfortunately for us, and the cats, cats tend to be roamers, and they don't stay where we want them to, and don't care if inside is safer than out, they wander and do what they want. All we can do is try to give them options and as much protection as we can near the resources we provide.