While it’s entirely possible for a fox to eat cats, it’s somewhat unlikely – but it does happen. Many homeowners fear for the safety of their cats at night, shutting them inside to prevent harm. And rightly so, as foxes will attack cats and smaller pets, causing injuries and harm. Let’s take a look at foxes’ typical diet and behaviour first to answer the question, do foxes eat cats?
Here at Integrum, we are Fox Pest Control experts with plenty of experience and knowledge on the topic. So continue reading for our top tips and advice on dealing with these problem pests on your property.
What do Foxes Eat?
Generally, foxes have incredibly varied diets, mainly because they live in all types of different environments and habitats. As a species, they are omnivores, meaning they eat food from either plants or animals. However, they are known hunters who enjoy the chase of catching live prey.
The diets of foxes ultimately depend on where they live. Rural and urban foxes have differing diets as they have access to different food sources.
Rural foxes typically eat animals they can find easily in the woodlands, like rabbits, mice, and even birds. When fruits and berries are in season, they will also fill up on their plant-based foods too for a varied diet. Surprisingly, it has been known for a fox to eat deer fawns! Although it’s rather uncommon due to the size difference between the two animals.
On the other hand, urban foxes have a much more diverse diet. Thanks to littering and food waste, there is an abundance of food readily available for foxes at all times. Whether that’s rubbish from your bins or last night’s kebab – foxes are not fussy!
As well as our leftovers, urban foxes also eat fresh fruits and berries if they can find them. A large portion of their diet is made up of rodents like mice and rats, purely because of their abundance in cities. Birds are also on the list, with foxes known to eat feral pigeons and small garden birds. Surprisingly, foxes will also eat insects like worms and beetles, often picking them up from grassy areas in the morning dew.
It’s clear to see that foxes are not fussy eaters. They will eat whatever they can get their paws on, even caching food away for weeks, so they never have a shortage. There’s no surprise then that foxes have been known to eat cats in the past.
While they have learned to live alongside us and have done for hundreds of years, foxes are still relatively solitary animals. They tend to keep themselves to themselves, avoiding people and other animals – unless they’re hunting their next meal, of course!
They are known as nocturnal animals, hunting at night for their prey. However, urban foxes have become crepuscular over recent years, remaining active during dawn, dusk and twilight hours. Because of this, it is now not uncommon to see a fox in the daylight.
Are Foxes a Danger to Cats?
Cats and foxes cross paths regularly. They both tend to hunt at night, sticking to the shadows and pouncing on their unsuspecting prey. In addition, both foxes and cats prey on mostly the same animals – particularly rodents like mice and rats. Therefore it’s highly likely that they will encounter each other.
Although it is rare, foxes will attack, kill and even eat cats if they feel threatened by them. However, it’s also important to remember that cats are well equipped to protect themselves!
In most cases, either the fox or cat will flee and move on to find another meal somewhere else, avoiding unnecessary conflict. However, if the fox has been injured or is starving, it could lead to a fight. The same goes for cubs. Like any animal, the fox will do whatever it can to protect its young, and if a cat wanders too close to its den, the fox will attack.
A healthy adult cat should be able to protect itself well in an attack from a fox; however, the same cannot be said for kittens or older cats. Foxes are often referred to as opportunistic hunters, meaning they prefer easier targets.
If a fox comes across a kitten, they don’t have the knowledge and ability to defend themselves, making them an easy meal for the fox. The same goes for elderly or sick cats; maybe they can’t run away or defend themselves as they used to. These tend to be the only cases where foxes have actually eaten cats.
Unfortunately, cats can be involved in traffic collisions or accidents resulting in their death. Foxes have been known to eat roadkill as it’s an easy meal for them, and so this is also another way that foxes would eat cats.
As well as this, people often bury their beloved pets in their gardens when they pass. Depending on how recently they died, if the hole is not deep enough, a fox could smell out the dead cat and have zero qualms about digging up your garden to eat it. Sadly, this has happened to many homeowners in the past.
Protecting your Cats from Foxes
Overall, the risk of your pet cat being eaten by a fox is very low – but it’s never zero. Generally, cats are more than capable of looking after themselves, but other pets may not have the same luck.
If you have an older cat or your cat is unwell, then try to avoid letting it out at night if you live in an area prone to foxes. The same goes for kittens, which shouldn’t be let outside until they’re at least six months old. Until they’re fully grown and used to their surroundings, it’s well worth keeping an eye on them outside to avoid the dangers of fox attacks.
How to Deter Foxes from your Garden
If you have a cat or smaller pets like rabbits, for example, and live in a densely populated area, it’s vital to fox proof your garden. There are a number of ways to do so effectively. Vinegar is an effective DIY method for deterring foxes as they despise the strong smell due to their incredibly sensitive noses.
Foxes often enter gardens in order to find a drink. And so, removing water sources, like birdbaths and water features, can also help keep them away. Noise also works to deter the pests as they prefer quiet, solitary spaces. Try hanging windchimes or placing motion-sensor scarers that deploy a loud noise once movement is detected.
For more information on DIY deterrents and the signs of foxes, visit our article How to Get Rid of Foxes.
Professional Fox Control
If your home is a fox hotspot and you fear for the safety of your pets, then it’s time to call the fox control professionals. Unfortunately, while they can be effective in the short-term, DIY techniques are never as effective as professional methods.
At Integrum, we use high-quality mesh and wire solutions to fox proof properties and gardens. However, if proofing isn’t enough, and you’re suffering from a full-blown fox infestation, we also offer humane culling solutions, including trapping and spraying treatments.
Our experts have years of experience in dealing with foxes, and they are fully qualified by the BPCA to handle the appropriate equipment and chemicals required for all pest control treatments.
The control of foxes is closely monitored, and failure to follow the Government’s guidelines could result in a hefty fine of £5,000 or even a six-month prison sentence!