Martinez, California resident Jane T of the Virginia Hills neighborhood reported via a post on the social media app Nextdoor that a coyote had taken a domestic housecat in her neighborhood, and was last seen carrying the cat, which the coyote had killed, into a nearby open space, presumably to eat it.
Jane T said that she learned about the attack from Vector Control, who told her about it while she was on a morning walk. A Vector Control officer reportedly asked her to spread the word, so that the cat’s owner could be informed about the unfortunate attack and their cat’s untimely death.
Jane T described the cat as having an orange and white coloration. She reported that the coyote attack occurred on Skyline, near the 6300 block of Creekview Court in Martinez. The coyote likely either carried the cat into the nearby Ridgeview Open Space or Paso Nogal open space, both of which have been reported previously to harbor coyote populations.
Neighbors responded to news of the attack with shock and sadness. Vickie B of the Alhambra Valley neighborhood wrote “This should be enough of a "see what can happen" to plead with people to keep their precious cats indoors. Rip orange kitty.” and Kim L wrote “My condolences to the family who lost this kitty.”
Other residents expressed concern about the area’s coyote population, and appeared to feel that the attack was symptomatic of human encroachment on coyotes’ traditional territory. Resident Craig C of the Reliez Valley neighborhood wrote “We are allowing our open space to be destroyed in the name of progress, what are these animals supposed to do”.
Some residents reported similar coyote attacks in the area. One resident wrote that her cat had been chased by a coyote and narrowly escaped a similar fate. Another resident wrote that a coyote had killed two of her baby goats in the same neighborhood.
The attack comes on the back of a recent string of unusual coyote attacks in the Lamorinda Area, in which at least 5 people have been injured. It is unlikely that the coyote responsible for the Lamorinda attacks was also responsible for the reported death of the cat, given the distances involved between the locations of the attacks, as well as the typical range size for a coyote. But both attacks may be indicative of a larger trend in increased human and coyote interaction, which often brings risks to animals and humans alike.
To prevent attacks on their own domestic animals, authorities recommend that local residents keep their cats and dogs inside, and refrain from leaving pets or kids unattended in backyards or other outdoor areas. If a coyote is sighted, residents should consider “hazing” it by screaming, throwing sticks or rocks, and shouting “No coyote!”. This trains coyotes to avoid approaching humans or their pets, and has been shown to reduce the frequency of coyote contacts with humans, as well as attacks on pets and people.
Contra Costa vector control exists primarily to prevent the spread of mosquitos and other disease-causing insects, so reporting on coyote attacks is likely outside the agency’s normal scope of activities. In this instance, the Vector Control official was likely acting outside the scope of their traditional duties in an effort to keep residents safe. If residents experience instances of coyotes acting aggressively, they are urged to report this to their local police department. Casual sightings can be reported via a local agency's non-emergency number. If you feel you are in danger during an attack, call 911.
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