Urban living doesn't only have appeal for humans. More and more wild animals, including large birds of prey, coyotes, and even mountain lions, are making their homes in America's largest cities and suburbs — and they're putting your pets in danger. A study in Tucson, Arizona, found that cats account for more than 40 percent of the regular diet of coyotes in the area, and similar statistics exist throughout the nation. What can you do to keep your furry friends safe?
1. Supervise Your Pet's Outdoor Time
Your pet is safest when he's inside your home, but all animals benefit from time outdoors. Instead of letting your dog or cat roam free, keep him in a protected space or, ideally, on a leash. Remember that most wild animals watch from a distance before attacking their prey. You may not see a predator until it's too late to call your pet to safety.
2. Keep Food and Water Dishes Indoors
Easy access to food is one reason urban communities are seeing an increase in coyotes, raccoons, and other opportunistic wildlife, according to a specialist at the University of California. Feed your pet indoors, and avoid leaving food or water out for strays. Unsecured garbage cans, food scraps, and bird feeders may also attract wild animals.
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3. Pay Extra Attention When Predators Are Most Active
Wild animals are often on the prowl just before sunrise and just before sunset. Let your pet out during daylight hours whenever possible. During breeding seasons, male animals may become more aggressive. Dogs, even large breeds, are more susceptible to coyote attacks during mating season, which typically occurs between January and March, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
4. Create a Safe Pet Space Outdoors
Depending on your available space and budget, consider providing your dog or cat with a special outdoor area for regular exercise and play time. Enclose an open area of your yard with 6-foot-tall fencing that extends at least 6 inches underground to protect dogs, and consider a sun room or enclosed patio for cats.
5. Raise Awareness In Your Community
Warn other pet owners about the dangers coyotes and other predators pose, and report wild animal sightings to your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife office. Some communities are working with organizations such as the Humane Society and Project Coyote to develop non-lethal ways to keep wild animals at bay.Want to learn more about how to build a safe space for your cat (or even a small dog)? Have you heard of a catio? Check out some great recommendations for how to build your very own. It's not as hard as you think!
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