TUCSON, March 29 (UPI) -- Coyotes moving into and around large urban areas are a threat to outdoor cats with the pets making up as much of 45 percent of the coyotes' diet, a study found.
In a University of Arizona study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, researchers tracking coyotes in Tucson observed 36 coyote-cat interactions of which 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats.
The study suggests any cat outside is vulnerable to coyote attack, researchers said, recommending that cat owners keep the pets indoors.
"Well-meaning but misguided cat lovers are creating unsafe conditions for domestic cats by releasing them back into areas where they may become prey for coyotes and other predators," Darin Schroeder, vice president of Conservation Advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy said.
"Owners who let their pet cat out into their neighborhoods may be unknowingly ringing the dinner bell to unseen coyotes," Schroeder said in an American Bird Conservancy release Thursday.
The findings raise questions about programs in which feral cats are caught, neutered and released back into the wild, Schroeder said.
"We urge states, cities and communities to reject this inhumane approach to the feral cat problem and instead, require responsible care of pets and the removal of feral cats from the wild," he said.