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Will Great Horned owl eat cats?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Our 2nd cat disappeared mysteriously this evening. She was just hanging around outside the open garage door about 6pm this evening and we were there too. Then a few minutes later we could not find her and she would not come with the sound of can opening.

I heard a owl a short time later. We have great Horned owls here and hear them frequently. Will a Great Horned owl take a cat? She is 5 years old and weighs about 13lbs.?

thank you
post #2 of 31
Anything is possible ... I know crows can pluck cats up
post #3 of 31
They will take kittens, but I don't think they could manage a 13 lb cat. I'd think a 5 yr old could fight too hard...but they could certainly be frightened away by an owl! I hope she's ok and you find her soon!
post #4 of 31
Most definitely yes! My brothers cat when we were growing up, got a really nasty infected ear. The vet pulled the tip of a talon out of it.

I have a friend that lives in Oregon and she saw an owl take her kitty right in front of her eyes. She was calling him in for the night, and as he was running towards her an owl swooped down and took him. It was really sad.

Here I have seen the red tailed hawks go for cats. The jackrabbits are just as big, if not bigger than the cats. Any larger bird of prey is a danger to outdoor cats.

Please do look around the area. If she struggled enough the owl may have dropped her and she could be injured somewhere nearby.

I am very sorry for her having gone missing and really hope you find her.
post #5 of 31
I don't know anything about owls taking cats, but I hope you find her safe & well.
post #6 of 31
I don't know anything about owls either but back where I grew up we had golden eagles and I heard stories of them carrying off full grown cats and smaller dogs.

Hopefully your cat is fine and is just out exploring.

Mez
post #7 of 31
Definitely Yes! When I was young I lost my outside cat to one. I was only 9 years old and watched in horror as it swooped down and flew off with my cat.

This is yet another reason why my cats are indoor only. It was very traumatic for me.

I truly hope you find your cat.
post #8 of 31
With all due respect to those of you who have posted guesses and second-hand tales, or described things other than owls, I have to comment.

If you cat was indeed 13lbs it is extremely unlikely that a 3lb Great Horned Owl could have made off with it without you noticing, or made off with it at all.

While owls are carnivorous birds, their standard foods are far different from those of say an eagle, osprey, or other large hawk.

Could a careless kitten be snatched by an opportunistic raptor? Absolutely.

Would an owl want to bother with trying to kill a 13lb adult cat? Absolutely not.

Provided your cat wasn't sick or maim, an owl would be knowingly putting itself in great danger by trying to take the cat. Owls collect prey by approaching silently & quickly and snatching up the mouse, small rabbit, etc in a quick pass. They do not strike with any sort of power, and thus it would be unable to outright kill or stun an adult cat and instead would find itself clutching 13lbs of claws and fangs - hardly worth the effort.

I hope your cat reappears soon. You never know, it may have been stalking the owl itself and headed out for a look. Please keep us posted.
post #9 of 31
Shad, although only 3 lbs, Great Horned Owls are formidable predators. I used to volunteer at the the Wildlife Rehab Center for the University of MN. They are enormous birds.

They are not your typical smaller owl and they do hunt larger prey such as Jack rabbits, which are the size of a large cat. They will also take porcupines which are much larger than a cat and they regularly eat skunks which are also cat sized.

Depending on where the bird grabs a cat and if the cat struggles a great deal they will drop them. This has actually been caught on video. I suggested the OP search the immediate area for her cat because of this very reason. As I said my brother's cat, when I was a senior in high school had an owl talon removed from his ear. It was stuck in his skull and the tip had broken off.

Were the bird and cat going for the same prey? Or did the bird go for the cat? I can't say. What I do know is the cat was lucky to survive according to the vet.


Cats may not be the prey of choice for a large owl, but they can certainly be it by mistake. Just as humans are not the prey of choice for sharks, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get you killed.

Having a cat disappear with a known large owl in the area is suspicious.

However if the OP lives rural enough to have large owls nesting nearby, they probably also have coyotes too. A coyote will snatch a cat quicker than a blink of an eye. Unfortunately I have seen that with my own eyes as well.
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkruz View Post
Our 2nd cat disappeared mysteriously this evening. She was just hanging around outside the open garage door about 6pm this evening and we were there too. Then a few minutes later we could not find her and she would not come with the sound of can opening.
The thing is, this is normal cat behavior. They can appear or disappear silently in the blink of an eye. And when they don't want to come, they're not going to. She may have taken off after prey herself.

I don't think hearing a bird call means much... it certainly isn't grounds to assume an owl was involved.
post #11 of 31
I hope kitty shows up... so distressing...

It CAN happen though, My bestfriends small dog was swooped up before her eyes when we were kids, and that was in Redding, CA. Not exactly the sticks...
3 lbs is the average for GH Owls, but they get bigger in colder regions and the females tend to be a little bigger also...
post #12 of 31
I had a bunny that I watched get ALMOST swooped up by a hawk.

I hope you find your kitty. Keep us posted?
post #13 of 31
Many people forget domestic cats are CARNivores equipped with powerful jaws and strong claws, you cant EVER compare a rabbits predators to a cats a cat is much much more formitable

a red tailed hawk i know of ONE case where it attacked a kitten the mother cat ended up killing the hawk in the proccess I know this first hand from a farmer who is a close friend of mine

great horned owls sometimes go after cats that are either black or black and white they mistake them for skunks

what color is ur cat? if its a good sized cat and its not black and white it should be pretty safe but great horned owls are the most powerful of local raptors so i wouldnt be suprised if one did take on an adult cat

great horned owls eat and kill skunk foxes, red tailed hawks goshawks even been known to kill bobcats (and get killed while doing it) but that is rare ussually they dont take cats that often like a fisher or a coyote would

I have studied statistics of all kinds on animal predation on cats and spoken to many vets and animal control etc.. Ive even spoke with many animal experts and to be honest many of it is all hype, (other then fishers and coyotes of course which are the usual maner of death if its not car related)

LIke someone will see a red tail hawk in the area and have a cat go missing, the cat was killed by a car but it was blamed on the hawk, stuff like that does happen A LOT

Foxes are another thing that are constantly blamed when they usually leave adult cats alone, i have countless amounts of pictures and video footage of diff cats and wild foxes interacting with NO agression yet people constantly say they kill cats, NO fox would interact peacfully with a rabbit

Raptors and smaller predators are putting themselves at serious risk when going after an adult domestic cat
post #14 of 31
I am in total agreement ChausieFan.
post #15 of 31
No update in a week? Hasn't made another post on the site since?

I'm getting a strong feeling that this cat has returned home, and likely did so quite quickly.
post #16 of 31

I SO beg to differ!  I just got back from the NE games &  parks commision.   My favorite cat ( 2 yrs old) came up missing a couple days ago.  After searching all over my husband sadly found a part of him.  I took the evidence ( feathers, fecal matter & his remaining body part) to them.  The authority on predetors said as soon as he saw the feathers, that it was indeed a Great Horned Owl.  Moreover he said it was not at all uncommon.  If they ( the owls) find a place with easy food supply it would very likely stay around.  He also said they can and do on a regular bacis carry prey up to 3 times their own body weight.  I'm not sure at this point what we will do.  They are protected so our options are limited.  I now understand more about our other cats tendencies to hide under the vehicles now.  One place they can't be attached I guess.   So watch your pets closely.  If you hear owls in your area be warned!!  I miss my cat :(

post #17 of 31

Owls can take cats and small dogs. Sorry .

post #18 of 31
Way to bring up a 5 year old thread.
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by missingkitty View Post

I SO beg to differ!  I just got back from the NE games &  parks commision.   My favorite cat ( 2 yrs old) came up missing a couple days ago.  After searching all over my husband sadly found a part of him.  I took the evidence ( feathers, fecal matter & his remaining body part) to them.  The authority on predetors said as soon as he saw the feathers, that it was indeed a Great Horned Owl.  Moreover he said it was not at all uncommon.  If they ( the owls) find a place with easy food supply it would very likely stay around.  He also said they can and do on a regular bacis carry prey up to 3 times their own body weight.  I'm not sure at this point what we will do.  They are protected so our options are limited.  I now understand more about our other cats tendencies to hide under the vehicles now.  One place they can't be attached I guess.   So watch your pets closely.  If you hear owls in your area be warned!!  I miss my cat frown.gif

I'm so sorry for your loss of your beloved little boy kitty. It was very caring of you to come and post a warning to others. You may have prevented a broken heart today.
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revenwyn View Post

Way to bring up a 5 year old thread.

 

Well, people looking for information may find this, and if updated or additional info or experience is available then it's a good thing.

post #21 of 31

You do know hawks too are a danger too?

My sister in law amost lost hers that way

post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeuzettesMom View Post

You do know hawks too are a danger too?
My sister in law amost lost hers that way
Kittens maybe. . .although maybe there arre some extra-large hawks? There are a pair of Cooper's hawks (chicken hawks) who raise their babies in the park next to my house every year, and I've seen them attack the ferals (they swoop at them and hit them in the side) if they think they're getting too close to their babies. I imagine a cat could get clawed up that way, but it's obvious the hawks wouldn't be able to pick up and fly away with a grown cat.

I'm sure any of the eagles and large owls could take a cat, although Bald Eagles are mostly lazy and would prefer something less feisty for a meal.
post #23 of 31

Sadly, I have to report that just last week I lost my 1 1/2 year old baby boy cat at night.  He was 12 pounds, very personable, loving and cuddly, and had gone out for his usual evening prowl before bed, and never came in.  I discovered him lying on his side in our yard the next morning, with only a huge puncture wound on the right side of his face.  Yes, we do have coyotes in the neighborhood, a constant worry, but we also have some very large owls from time to time.  Because his body was intact, we are making the assumption that he was caught in talons, not by a coyote, but too heavy and when he squirmed was dropped.  :/ We now lock all our doggies and kitties inside at night. 

post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minkson View Post

Sadly, I have to report that just last week I lost my 1 1/2 year old baby boy cat at night.  He was 12 pounds, very personable, loving and cuddly, and had gone out for his usual evening prowl before bed, and never came in.  I discovered him lying on his side in our yard the next morning, with only a huge puncture wound on the right side of his face.  Yes, we do have coyotes in the neighborhood, a constant worry, but we also have some very large owls from time to time.  Because his body was intact, we are making the assumption that he was caught in talons, not by a coyote, but too heavy and when he squirmed was dropped.  :/ We now lock all our doggies and kitties inside at night. 
Oh no! I'm so sorry. What a terrible thing to happen.. *hugs*
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minkson View Post

Sadly, I have to report that just last week I lost my 1 1/2 year old baby boy cat at night.  He was 12 pounds, very personable, loving and cuddly, and had gone out for his usual evening prowl before bed, and never came in.  I discovered him lying on his side in our yard the next morning, with only a huge puncture wound on the right side of his face.  Yes, we do have coyotes in the neighborhood, a constant worry, but we also have some very large owls from time to time.  Because his body was intact, we are making the assumption that he was caught in talons, not by a coyote, but too heavy and when he squirmed was dropped.  :/ We now lock all our doggies and kitties inside at night. 

I am sorry this happened to your cat. I live in an area with much wildlife, coyotes, ow.ls, bobcats, bears and who knows what else. Our cats are taken in by dark and sleep in our garage in a big animal cage. Most of the time, if I am gone during the day, they sleep on the screened in porch. Hugs to you. I am so sorry.
post #26 of 31

You are sadly mistaken in fact Great horned owls are about the only Raptor that targets skunks,certainly as large as a cat.

post #27 of 31
All these stories and experiences just break my heart....... Having grown up in NYC, whether or not to let our cats outdoors was never an issue we had to even consider. When I came to Maine and ended up with kitties lusting for the natural world, I had to face the matter. To compromise, I decided supervised daylight outdoor time would be ok. This of course led to unsupervised outdoor time (still only during the day). That was it -- my younger kitty got hit and killed by a car. That was five years ago, and I still cannot forgive myself. Her life was in my hands; it was my responsibility to keep her safe, and even though I knew the risks, I let her pressure me into doing something that was not in her best interest. The facts are clear and speak for themselves: the lifetime of an indoor-only cat averages around 12-13 years, with a great many of them living well beyond that. Cats allowed outdoors have an average lifespan of about 5 years. Whether it's birds of prey, other predators, cars, or diseases -- "outside" is simply an extremely high-risk environment for all animals.
post #28 of 31
My main point, however, was how sad I am for all the losses described here. It is so painful to lose a loving companion and member of our families. My heart goes out to all of you who have experienced this loss. I only hope the memories of the time you shared will eventually ease some of the pain.
post #29 of 31

Absolutely!  I just lost my cat of 13 years to a great horned owl.  She was sitting on the block wall in our yard it was close to dusk...I was in my office and a Great Horned Owl attempted to grab my 18 lb kitty from her sitting position.  Grabbed her and immediately let go she fell to her death 10ft and broke her poor little neck. He then swooped down and within seconds opened her chest and gutted her chest...OMG this was the worst...My poor kitty did not even know what hit here...so for those of you who are skeptical on what these birds are capable of....well, I can tell you that I have always had outdoor kitties....my Cookie was the sweetest cat you would ever meet and her life had to come to an end because of my stupidity.  People don't be like me and regret that I did not do this sooner, I will never let my kitties outside anymore.  All my cats will be indoors forever after witnessing such an incredible act.  These large birds, owls and hawks are trying to feed their young and they do not know they are our beloved pets...It is just really important to take what we have learned as humans to make it right next time.  I am so sorry Cookie for letting you outside, I will be a voice for all the kitty cats out there when I say it is more humane to keep your kitty cats indoors and let them be safe from the natural instincts of wild creatures then to put them in harms way by letting them outside to mistakenly be viewed as food for other animals.  GOD rest my Cooker...as she will never be forgotten and always be remembered!  I love you my sweet girl....keep my Momma company in heaven!

post #30 of 31

no bird can survive in the wild long killing cats because if they get bitten once they die, does not matter the species it will happen. NO bird can survive a cat bite.  Even if the owl did kill the cat it will die 12 hours later from being bitten.
 

 

This is why falconers will shoot cats on site because they know if their bird hits a cat their bird is at a high risk of dying. Most falconers pretty much hate cats.  Many birds can handle snake bites snake venom or lizard bites just no bird can handle a cat bite as of yet.

 

birds can also take a canine bite or a mink or a skunk bite any animal bite just about to their foot but cat bites kill them no raptor on earth can survive a cat bite unless treated with anti boitics and still then its iffy. No bird can. But fox bites and mink and skunk bites do not phase raptors much as long as they dont loose a toe because of it. A great horned owl can take a skunk or a mink.  But when it starts taking cats its going to die.  No falconer on earth would dare target a feral cat wth his bird does not matter even if it is a wolf or coyote killing golden eagle. That 1 bite can cost his bird its life. Even if it is a cobra or python killing snake eagle does not matter. Its that bacteria in the cats mouth that kills off any raptor killing cats. They never last long in the wild or in captivity as in falconry. It is the worst prey species on earth for a predatory bird to target. A dog is much safer.

 

if your cat just vanishes in north america 99 percent of the time IF it is not hit by a car or shot by a person it is taken by a coyote. This is all of north america. Coyote is the only north american animal that is a expert cat killer. Other than people shooting and setting out poison.  There is a HUGe population out there that hate cats so much they will kill them. You would be so shocked if you knew it is disgusting.  One person near me feeds coyotes on purpose cause he loves how they killed off all the cats around here. My cat goes out once a week or so but she has a really aggressive big imported protection dog out there with her in the same area shes in so shes safe.


Edited by chausiefan - 7/1/13 at 9:56am
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