CANADA – A couple who live in LaSalle is warning all pet owners to be very careful about leaving small animals outside unattended after a hawk swooped down and killed their cat.
Elizabeth Cash explained one of her cats, named Boots for her four white feet, was prone to wander, but neighbors had absolutely no problem with the friendly feline paying visits to their yards.
According to Cash, the three-year-old cat was stopping by a backyard birdfeeder last week when a large hawk swooped down from the sky and landing on her, crushing her in its talons.
The hawk tried to fly away while clutching the cat, but dropped her after just a few metres and made its getaway.
“The only solace I have is that she was killed instantly,” stated Cash. “I consider my pets my children, so there’s quite the bond. We miss her like crazy.”
Cash explained that Boots was like a “tiger-like cat, but with a beautiful white blaze from her neck to her tummy.”
Her husband, Robert Buck, was especially close with the adopted cat and the two would end up watching TV together most nights.
“She’d come roll around in my lap, purring and begging me to pet her,” he stated.
Dan Lebedyk, who is the conservation biologist for the Essex Region Conservation Authority, said three types of hawks can be found in this particular area — red-tailed hawks, Copper’s hawks and marsh hawks.
Although it’s uncommon to hear of raptors picking up pets, he said it does happen.
“It’s very possible,” staed Lebedyk. “Any large bird of prey in the raptor group does prey on small mammals, mice, squirrels, skunks and yes, even kittens.”
Melanie Coulter from the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society said she remembered an incident from years ago where “some type of bird of prey” carried off another cat, but explained it’s not common at all because, unlike rabbits or other small mammals, cats have claws and can fight back.
As the owner of two tiny Chihuahuas, Nancy Phillips, the animal overseer at the WINGS Wildlife Centre, said she’s quite used to being very careful when letting her pets outside.
“Instead of just opening the door and letting animals run free, we need to stop look and listen,” she explained. “Animals like hawks live out there in nature and as much as I love wildlife and work with it, I still don’t want them to eat my pets.”
If a bird of prey is found lurking around in your backyard Phillips says the best way to scare it off is by banging pots and pans which makes it uncomfortable for them.
While the manufacturers of products such as fake owls claim their decoys deter predators, she went on to say that they’re often easy for birds to figure out. “We’ve seen cute pictures of hawks sitting on the head of a plastic owl; they adapt to things.”
Although Cash and Buck wish to warn other pet owners in the area to be careful with their cats the couple does not have plans of stopping their remaining two mousers from “living a cat’s life” outdoors.
“They like to go outside and see what’s there,” stated Buck. “There’s one I call my lawn ornament. In the summer he rolls around in the middle of the lawn with his belly up. I’m not going to keep him from that.”