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Do Owls Eat Cats

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When owls are not being spooky with their hoots at night, they are probably hunting for food. Owls are predatory birds with an excellent vision that aid hunting. Now, owls are known to hunt small prey, but what about cats?

an owl flying at dusk

Owls do eat cats. They attack cats by lurking and waiting for the moment to take them by surprise. A bit ironic, since cats also lurk before they launch a surprise attack. An owl’s vision and flight make it possible for the owl to stalk from a distance and stay unnoticed until it attacks.

You can put measures in place to protect your cats from being attacked by owls. Below, we shall discuss some of these measures and some other things you need to know about cats and owls.

Do Owls Eat Cats

We already hinted that owls go after small animals. So, saying they go after cats might seem far-fetched. Cats and owls are about the same size, so it’s understandable if you find this hard to believe.

On a good hunting day for them, owls will not go after cats. They will usually go after animals such as rabbits, rats, raccoons, small birds, squirrels, frogs, and lizards. But when they cannot find their usual prey, they might just go after cats that stray into their hunting area.

Smaller owls might not be able to carry your adult cat or kitten, but the larger ones can snatch your kittens away. The bigger ones are known to airlift small deer, so a kitten should be no problem for them. Of course, once airlifted, the kittens end up as owl food.

Even though owls might not be able to carry your cat, they can attack them. Such attacks usually come when the owl is trying to steal prey from the cat.

Owls are nocturnal, and cats are nocturnal too. So, they hunt around the same period and will most likely cross paths. They also have the same stalk-then-attack style of hunting.

Now, they should be evenly matched since they have similar hunting styles. But owls can fly, and this gives them an advantage over cats.

They are also quite fast, they have sharp claws and beaks, and they are quite good at camouflaging. This combination makes them very formidable hunters.

How Big of an Animal Can an Owl Eat

owl swooping to catch a mouse

The size of the animal an owl can eat depends on the owl’s size, specie, and appetite. Owls usually swallow their prey whole, so you’ll find that a small owl will go after small prey, and the large owls go after big ones.

Generally, small owls like scops and screech owls, focus on eating insects such as beetles, moths, crickets, and scorpions. Others, like barn owls, eat small animals like fishes, mice, lizards, voles, and birds about their size.

With the big owls, there are more choices. They eat various animals, including those that small owls eat. The big ones eat rodents like rabbits, hares, raccoons, skunks, and voles.

Big owls also eat other birds such as falcons, house sparrow, finch, wren, and trench. Cats, puppies, bats, fishes, reptiles, amphibians are amongst other animals they eat.

How Big of an Animal Can an Owl Carry

The average owl weighs 3 lbs and is 2 ft long. Yet, it can carry an animal that weighs as much as 9 lbs.

Larger owls are much heavier and are longer than the average owl. They can carry animals as heavy as 28 lbs, such as small deer.

What Types of Owls Eat Cats

An owl’s main diet is dependent on its specie and size. But even with these factors, many types of owls have been seen attacking and eating cats.

One such cat-eating owl is the great horned owl. The great horned owls are one of the big ones, and besides eating cats, they eat puppies, big rodents, and birds.

closeup of an owl

Another type of owl that can eat cats is the eagle owl. The eagle owls are one of the largest, and they can eat pretty much anything they can kill.

How to Keep Owls Away From Cats

Cats can be annoying sometimes, but no one wants their little furry feline companion to become owl food. The safest way to keep owls from your cats is to prevent your cats from going out at night. But, this may not always be possible.

There will be times your cat will stray, and you will not be there to protect them. But with the following measures, you might be able to protect them:

  • At night, always shut windows, doors, and any other means through which your cat can get out.
  • Install devices that produce mild electric shock on the possible places the owls sit. Ensure the shock will stun, not kill the owl. Killing owls is illegal in the United States.
  • Keep the bright lights outside your home on at night. Owls avoid very bright lights.
  • Scare the owls away with noise. You can use items like horns and fireworks to do this.
  • Install motion detectors in your surrounding. When the owls set off the motion detector, the noise from the alarm will scare them away.
  • Learn owls’ sounds and pay attention to them, so you know when they are around.
  • If there are too many owls in the area, reach out to the wildlife services for advice.

In case your cat gets attacked and injured by an owl, take them to a vet for treatment immediately. Without treatment, the wound can get infected, and the cat may die.

Are Cats Afraid of Owls

Owls can make themselves appear menacing, and this can be scary for cats. To do this, owls raise their feathers, so they look twice as large. Then they switch to a threatening glare. When an owl appears like this, your cat will most likely flee.


The chances of your cat falling prey to an owl are very low. But don’t take those chances. Take as many preventive measures as you can, but ensure none of those measures include killing owls.


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