Housecats and wildlife don't usually mix well. Many cats, even the most gentle and calm ones, follow their predatory instincts when they see a bird within reach, and things don't usually end well for the bird. And in areas frequented by coyotes, your cat could become prey too. Here's how to keep your cat, and the local wildlife, safe.
1. Keep your cat inside. If your cat is indoors, it can't kill any birds nor get itself too close to a coyote. This is by far the most foolproof way to avoid these risks, as well as your cat's risk of contracting a disease, being hit by a car, or getting lost or stolen. However, having an indoor cat doesn't work for everyone's situation. For example, a cat that has been able to go outside for its whole life will not adapt easily to being kept in. However, even if you can't keep your cat inside all the time, it's still a good idea to do so at night and when you're not home.
If your cat still goes outside sometimes:
2. Purchase a collar with a bell. Several studies have shown that cats are the #1 enemy of backyard birds. The noise of a bell will make it harder for your cat to sneak up on birds and other small animals without scaring them away. However, if you live in an area where coyotes have been problematic to pet owners, a bell is not a good idea because it could draw attention to your cat, which coyotes see as prey.
3. Don't put birdfeeders or birdhouses in trees. Trees often appear to be good locations for hanging birdfeeders or birdhouses, but they could also allow your cat to climb up and stalk feathered visitors. It's better to put these items on tall poles or posts (in exposed areas, not near bushes where your cat can hide).
4. Put a cat door on your garage. If there is a risk of coyotes coming in your yard, and you have already ruled out the option of keeping your cat indoors, install a cat door on your garage or shed and teach your cat where it is. This can potentially save your cat from a coyote encounter by giving it a place to escape to. Make sure that you can close the cat door at night, both to keep skunks and other animals out and, if your garage is attached to your house, to keep your cat inside once it gets dark.
5. Don't leave cat food outdoors. Wildlife such as raccoons and skunks will eventually find it, and an encounter between your cat and a wild animal at the food bowl could lead to a fight.