What Eat Cats?

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What eats cats?

Like any other cat parent, the last thing you would consider is where a cat belongs in the food chain. In fact, thinking about cats’ predators has never struck your mind, especially if you have indoor-only cats.

However, as someone who has worked in the pet grooming business for over ten years, I’ve seen firsthand some people reporting that they found pieces of stray cats in their areas. I was sorry to hear a feline could die in such a terrible way. 

And even though my cats are all indoor felines, I got concerned. 

I started picturing what would happen if my door or window was left open one day (accidentally) and my cat went outside. Will something threaten it? 

Keep on reading to learn:

Animals That Can Directly Kill A Cat

Felines are excellent killing machines. In fact, some cat species hunt all mammals in the wild and have no predators. 

However, when it comes to domestic cats, their small size can make them prey to larger animals that won’t hesitate to kill and eat them.

Here is a list of animals that will prey on your cat if given a chance.

1. Big Snakes: Pythons, Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Boa Constrictors

Whenever you think of an animal that can eat your cat, a snake won’t immediately strike your mind as a cat predator. After all, cats naturally pounce on anything that moves like a snake and kill it without hesitation.

Plus, the majority of snake species wouldn’t consider an adult cat as food. 

While there is a great chance your cat will kill a snake, any snake large enough can prey on your cat. Some of such species include:

  • Python (While nonvenomous, pythons can swallow your cat as a whole)
  • Boas (Some boa constrictors are large enough to eat kittens )
  • Diamondback rattlesnakes (They are the largest venomous snakes and can occasionally feed on cats)

Cats and snakes have similar hunting behavior and eat the same prey. Consequently, it’s common to find snakes where cats hunt.

How To Keep Snakes Away From Your Cats

  • Mow your lawn frequently.
  • Don’t leave your kitty out unattended.
  • Get rid of stagnant water in your compound.
  • Dispose of trash in secured containers and bins.
  • Use snake repellants or natural repellent like vinegar.

2. Large Predator Birds: Eagles, Hawks, Owls

It might be unlikely for a bird to attack a cat, but in some areas in the United States, eagles, hawks, and owls can grow large enough to be a danger to your kitty.

These birds have sharp beaks and talons for grabbing their prey. 

Since these birds prey on smaller animals like mice, rats, and rabbits, your kitten would make an amazing meal for them. It’s unlikely that these birds will prey on a grownup cat, but they can gang up on one.

During the day, you can watch out for hawks and eagles. But owls come out at night, making it dangerous to let your cat out if you reside where the bird is common.

The best defense against these bird predators is to watch out for your kittens.

3. Coyotes

Coyotes are very common all over the USA. According to The Journal of Wildlife Management,  coyotes are the most dangerous predators for cats and dogs. The predation is usually common during the pup-rearing season.

The animal is nocturnal and has superior olfactory sense. Coyotes will hunt in pairs or packs and can hunt large prey like deer.

One coyote will hunt small animals like rodents, birds, squirrels, and a domestic cat. Since this predator hunts at night, your best defense is keeping your cat indoors at night. 

If you live in a city, you will unlikely see a coyote. But you might encounter one if you live on the edge of the town in a park or cemetery. Coyotes are a big problem if you live in a rural area with plenty of trees they can use for cover.

All in all, keep your garbage can close tightly to help steer them away from your home.

4. Wolves

Wolves are opportunistic hunters and will prey on your cat if given a chance. If you live in an area like a forest where wolves may live, it’s natural to be concern about your kitty becoming prey.

However, wolves are generally shy and try to avoid human settlements as much as possible. But if you live in a log cabin near quiet woods, and your cat roams surrounding areas, there is a chance your cat may encounter a wolf.

Some cat owners who live on the edge of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in the USA have experience with wolves and say that wolves will kill any cat they encounter with great relish.

Wolves are apex predators who prey on the old and young rather than the healthiest. Old cats and kittens could be more of wolves’ target because they are slower. 

5. Wolverines

Wolverines are opportunistic carnivores and scavengers known for their strength and ability to take down prey much larger than themselves. While wolverines primarily feed on a diet of small to medium-sized mammals like rodents, hares, and carrion, they can occasionally target larger prey such as deer or livestock.

If a wolverine encounters your cat and is hungry, it might attack, kill, and eat it. You shouldn’t let your cat outside if you live in an area full of wolverines.

Animals That Kill Cats Indirectly

Some animals may not eat your cat. However, they can aggressively defend themselves against your cats. 

If your cat tries to play with, prey upon, or startle them, they might respond in a way that could kill your cat indirectly. Some of these animals include:


Many years ago, our forefathers used cats to control the rodent population. According to Anthrozoos, there are cases throughout the history of cat domestication by farmers in the old world.

Ideally, a cat is quite effective at hunting large rodents like rats.

However,  some large rats will fight back if your cat attacks. A rat’s teeth can cause infection, and a desperate one won’t hesitate to use them. The bite can be fatal to your cat if you don’t note it in time and treat it.

Besides, rats carry diseases such as leptospirosis and rat bite fever. If your cat were to bite and eat an infected rat, it could contract these diseases that can be life-threatening without immediate treatment.


Skunks aren’t predators and are unlikely to kill a healthy cat. The animals aren’t aggressive and will pose no significant threat to your cat.

However, if your cat threatens a skunk, it’s more likely to use its spray, a toxic, sulfuric-smelling fluid from its tail, which can harm a cat’s eye.

While skunks will not attack an adult cat, they can kill kittens and eat their abdomen, leaving the skin and the muscles unattached. Skunks can do anything to get to kittens.


Squirrels can’t predate cats. In fact, your kitty is likely to chase squirrels whenever it sees it and kill them for food.

The only problem?

Squirrels often have diseases and ringworms that can easily spread with their sharp claws and teeth during a fight with a cat. While your cat will kill the squirrel, it might develop health issues if it sustains injuries.

Most squirrels carry diseases, parasites, and ticks. If your cat catches and consumes an infected squirrel, it might develop complications such as:

  • Internal parasites
  • Tick-borne illness

You should keep your cat’s vaccination and preventive treatment current to minimize these risks.

Animals That Can Harm Cats (fights with cats)

Cats have a trigger instinct that makes them chase and kill everything that runs away from them. Your feline friend is also wired to stalk small animals and surprise them.

However, some animals will charge back and harm your cat if they get into a fight. Some of these animals include:

Feral Cats

Stray and other free-roaming domestic cats can fight with your kitty over territory. Feral cats are often more aggressive and territorial than domestic cats.

When your cat encounters one, it might engage in physical fights that rarely end with fatal wounds. However, the scratches and bites your cat sustains can fester when left untreated.

Ferals may also carry diseases that can be transmitted to your cat through bites and scratches.

Large rats

While domestic cats often hunt smaller rodents, large rats can be a formidable opponent. Rats have sharp teeth and claws and can defend themselves when threatened.

While your feline friend will win a cat-rat fight (regardless of the rat’s size), a rat might bite or scratch it, leading to injuries or infections. Plus, rats may carry diseases that can be transmitted to cats through bites or scratches.


Raccoons are aggressive and common in urban areas. The animal can pose a significant threat to cats. 

Since the animal is common, the chances of a raccoon encountering a free-roaming cat are quite high.

A raccoon can overpower even the healthiest adult cat in a territorial dispute. As a wild animal, a raccoon has the natural advantages of lived experiences. 

Its sharp claws and teeth can seriously injure your cat in a physical confrontation. Raccoons also carry diseases like rabies, which can be transmitted through bites.


While most scorpions are not lethal to cats, some species are dangerous. The deadly species include:

  • Arizona hairy scorpions
  • Stripe-tailed scorpions
  • Bark scorpions

A sting from a bark scorpion can cause pain, swelling, and, in some cases, severe allergic reactions in cats.

If your kitty tries to play with or attack a scorpion, it may get stung, leading to discomfort or even a medical emergency. 


Spiders aren’t a significant threat to cats. Most spider bites are harmless and may cause minor irritation at worst.

However, three species could be deadly:

  1. Brown recluse
  2. Black widow 
  3. Hobo spider

The above species can deliver venomous bites that may cause severe cat reactions. The reaction can include pain, swelling, and tissue damage.

While spider encounters are relatively rare, you should monitor your cat if you suspect a spider bite and seek vet attention.

What Eats Cats: In A Nutshell

Some animals, like a few snake species, eagles, wolves, and wolverines, are specific to certain areas in the US. However, some, like coyotes and raccoons, are everywhere.

If you want to let your cat outside, you need to keep a close eye on them so that you can know if there is a problem. 

Besides predators, check for enemies like ferals, porcupines, and big rats.


How do cats defend themselves?

Cats defend themselves by avoiding or outrunning their predators. Felines will look for corners or nooks to hide and walls or trees to climb to escape danger.
But when confronted in a fight, felines use claws, teeth, hissing, and growling to fight potential threats. The cat can deploy specific biting and scratching techniques, for instance, targeting sensitive areas like eyes or nose to defend themselves.

Where are cats in the food chain?

Cats are carnivorous predators typically near the top of the food chain in their ecosystems. Almost nothing preys on them except for opportune instances.
While a cat is on top of the food chain in its ecosystem, larger predators can prey on it. For instance, large birds such as eagles and owls can target small domestic cats as potential prey.

Will a raccoon kill a cat?

Yes, a raccoon poses a lethal danger to your cat or kittens, regardless of the breed. A raccoon is known to be territorial and can be aggressive when threatened. If your cat confronts a raccoon, the result can be deadly.
The raccoon can use its sharp claws and teeth to cause significant injuries to your cat.

Are cat predators or prey?

A domestic cat is a highly skilled predator. An outdoor cat living near a natural setting will likely prey on small animals like rodents, mice, and rats.
However, due to their small size, a cat roaming outside risks becoming a prey of wild predators, getting attacked by domestic dogs, and getting into fights with other cats.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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