Hawks and Cats

pauln(z7B Arkansas)August 1, 2007

Hello. I live in a fairly large city, but have a big yard with woods on three sides. Max is my 15 pound tabby cat who has freedom inside and outside of my house. He was a rescue from way out in the country so there's no way he can ever be a totally inside cat. He does like to catch animals, but this is mostly mice, wood rats, cicadas and skinks.

Within the last month or so I've seen at least 3 medium sized hawks in my backyard and neighboring yards. I think the nest is next door in some woods. They fly low often and call to each other all day long. They have taken a definate interest in Max, and finally he seems to understand that they are nothing he needs to mess with.

My questions if anybody has any knowledge on this subject are these: Would a hawk(s) ever attack a large adult cat? How would either party fare in such an event?

I've tried to convince this cat to stay away from large screechy birds with big claws and big beaks. Sometimes our children don't listen well however.

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proudgm_03(6 MO)

I've seen some pretty big hawks and have heard stories of them picking up cats and small dogs. I don't know if it's true or not. But at any rate I'm sure it wouldn't be a pretty picture. Hopefully, they have a lot of other "meals" out there.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 9:11PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Well, it appears the hawks have moved on for the time being. I think most of the activity involved fledglings, and they seem to have grown up pretty quickly. I can't tell adult from juvenile as to size or colorations. Maybe they're off to the country where, hopefully, it's cooler. I figure I'll see some of them in winter/spring because there's lots of good snacks here in town for hungry hawks. Max is happy to have his terrace back also. Maybe he put too big a dent in the rodent population for the hawks. Some things we may never know.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:54AM
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proudgm_03(6 MO)

Glad Max is okay. I had a cat one time that the blue jays would attack everytime he was out in the yard. They would fly down and peck his head. I never have liked bluejays since then. LOL!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 12:07AM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Blue Jays are the gangstas of the bird kingdom. The way they fly in a pack and squawk to kingdom come. I've seen some pretty agressive mockingbirds also, but nothing compares with the Jays. You know what they call someone who specializes in studying blue jays? An Ornerythologist.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 1:05AM
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When I end up moving out there I will have a cat in tow. I'm not overly fond of it, but would hate to see it meet with that kind of end.

So I was curious and found this on a raptor site. Based on this I'd say a 15 pound kitty is pretty safe.

Here's what they say:

Will a raptor attack my dog or cat?

Raptors are wild animals and need to hunt their own food in order to survive. Even though they are predators, typically they will not hunt something that is larger than they are. They target what is most abundant and easiest to catch. Most raptors can carry only two thirds of their body weight. The average red-tailed hawk or great horned owl only weighs 2-3 pounds. However, there are isolated instances when a raptor cannot find enough food within its territory or is a young inexperienced hunter. In these cases, it would not be unheard of for a larger raptor like a red-tailed hawk or great horned owl to turn to small, domestic animals if the opportunity arises. However, cats and dogs will bite and claw to defend themselves, and are therefore more difficult to safely catch. Most raptors after the first attempt will leave them alone, making attacks uncommon.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:56PM
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I live in the downtown area of my city, and we have a group of common barn owls who have set up residence in a tall, rotten oak stump next door. They've been there for the past 3-4 years, raising several young ones in the meantime. I happen to know they did attack and kill a cat, and they were hunting another one a few weeks ago (saw it in progress--he missed). So I know it can and does happen. If your hawks are the small type, it sounds unlikely. If it's a large hawk....not so sure I wouldn't be worried.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 12:21PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

They've been gone for about a month now. I guess they raised the chick(s) and moved on. Don't know if they'll be back next year.

I did have a barred owl who used to hang out in a short pine tree along my backyard. He was totally cool, and used to watch me build my rock beds. He let me get really close a coupld of times to take his handsome picture. Eventually he moved on also. I hope he comes back someday. It's a wonderful thing hearing their call in the night.

You know, we humans build huge monuments to ourselves and do just about everything possible to remove ourselves from our environment. It's nice to have reminders that our environment is still right here where we left it. Maybe struggling in some ways, but here none the less.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 2:50PM
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I also think it's cool to have the Barn owl living among us. He sticks his head out quite often to look at us when we're talking in the back yard...he also stares ALOT at my little dog as he plays in his pen... ;)

Here's a pic from this week-

Unfortunately the owner of that property wants to cut that tree down. I know it will need to be removed one day, but still, I'll miss our buddy.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 3:27PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I worry about my 7 pound cat, but a 15 pounder should be safe. I don't remove my dead standing trees (sycamores). They are in the field not in my yard, thank heavens. This morning I saw two pileated wood peckers. My other clump has crows and buzzards. I like to see wildlife and dead trees are good homes for them. Also I have been upset all day about snowball and bucky the deer taken my Oregon State Police -saw it on the noon news. I e-mailed to express my opinion. Google "snowball" and get the e-mail address for the wildlife division of the Oregon State Police if you feel sorry for the people. I know it is wrong to keep wild animals for pets, but these people found a white spotted disabled fawn and saved its life. Surely there are worse crimes to enforce.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 6:00PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

Grnthumber, if the owner insists on removing the tree, try to get him to have a wildlife specialist re-locate the owls. There may be some federal laws involved here about endangering owls. I don't know their status as to destroying their nests. At any rate, you need to inform him of the owls, and make sure that he takes the steps needed to keep the owls safe. That tree does look like it's on it's last legs, but if not in danger of falling on someone's house, powerlines, or another tree, I'd leave it up for the critters.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 5:35PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

I have a dead tree that the electric co. is coming out to cut for me. There are two others that wont touch the power lines if they fall so they will leave them. I have an agressive pilated woodpecker that i don't think will let any other big birds around so he has several dead trees nearby all his own.
I'll be in the minority but i like those ornery bluejays they are good to gather around and squawk at snakes.
I worry a little about my little 5 lb dog but when she goes outside my 50 lb dog goes too which should discourage hawks.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 10:48PM
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I did call the Game and Fish Commission, and even though the Common Barn Owl is on the protected species list, due to the lack of nesting sites, they refuse to do anything and state the owner has the right to cut down the tree. I tried to get the local university interested in saving this nest, but they never returned my call....so we're resigned to the fact that it's gonna happen sometime..we just hope it's later rather than sooner.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 3:44PM
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