Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep Them Safe

Owls typically do not eat cats. Their diet mainly consists of small mammals like mice, rats, and other rodents, as well as insects, birds, and occasionally fish.

While large owls could potentially prey on very small cats or kittens in rare cases, it’s not a common occurrence. We’ll delve into whether owls eat full-grown cats, if they have a preference for dogs, and what kind of owls are more likely to attack cats.

Additionally, we’ll discuss the reasons why owls attack cats and, most importantly, how you can keep your beloved pet safe from these nocturnal predators.

Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe

Do Owls Eat Full-Grown Cats?

owls generally do not prey on full-grown cats. Owls are typically smaller in size compared to cats, and they tend to hunt for prey that is more manageable.

While there have been rare instances where owls have attacked larger animals, such cases are uncommon. However, it’s important to note that smaller cat breeds, such as kittens or petite adult cats, may be at a higher risk.

Do Owls Eat Dogs?

Although owls primarily feed on small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, they are not known to target dogs as their main source of food. Dogs are generally too large for owls to consider them prey.

However, small dog breeds or puppies could potentially be vulnerable to owl attacks, especially if they are left unattended outside during the night. It is always advisable to supervise your pets when they are outdoors, regardless of their size.

What Kind Of Owls Eat Cats?

While it is rare, there have been cases where certain species of owls have been known to attack and kill cats. The two most commonly reported owl species involved in such incidents are barn owls and great-horned owls.

Barn owls are known for their silent flight and excellent hunting skills, while great-horned owls are powerful predators with strong talons.

These owls may view cats as potential prey if they perceive them as a threat to their territory or if other food sources are scarce.

When Do Owls Attack Cats?

Owls are primarily nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night. Therefore, the majority of owl attacks on cats occur after sunset.

Owls have excellent night vision and a keen sense of hearing, allowing them to locate prey even in the darkest of conditions. Cats that venture out at night, especially in areas with a high owl population, are at a higher risk of being attacked.

Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe

Why Do Owls Attack Cats?

There are several reasons why owls may attack cats. Here are some common motivations behind owl-cat encounters:

Territorial Defence

Owls are highly territorial creatures and will defend their nesting sites vigorously. If a cat gets too close to an owl’s nest, the owl may perceive it as a threat and attack to protect its young.

Scarcity Of Prey

When food sources become scarce, owls may be more inclined to hunt larger animals, including cats. This usually occurs when their usual prey, such as rodents or rabbits, are in low supply.

Unusual Circumstances

In some cases, owl attacks on cats may be attributed to unusual circumstances. For example, if an owl is injured or starving, it may resort to targeting larger prey than it typically would.

Protecting Young

Owls are devoted parents and will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of their offspring. If a cat comes too close to a nest with baby owls, the parent owl may perceive it as a threat and take defensive action.

Mistaken Identity

Sometimes, owls mistake cats for their natural prey due to similar size or movement patterns. This is more likely to happen in low-light conditions, where visual identification is challenging.

Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe

How To Keep Your Cat Safe From Owls

Now that we understand the potential risks owls pose to cats, let’s explore some ways to keep your feline companion safe:

Keep Cats Indoors

The safest way to protect your cat from owl attacks is to keep them indoors, especially during the night. Indoor cats are not only safe from owls but also protected from other outdoor hazards.

Supervise Outdoor Activities

If you allow your cat to spend time outdoors, make sure to supervise their activities. Keep an eye on them and be vigilant for any signs of owl presence or unusual behavior.

Provide Secure Outdoor Enclosures

Consider creating a secure outdoor enclosure for your cat to enjoy the outdoors while remaining protected. These enclosures can be built with mesh or wire to prevent owls or other predators from gaining access.

Install Motion-Activated Lights Or Alarms

Motion-activated lights or alarms can startle owls and deter them from approaching your property. These devices can provide an added layer of protection for your cat.

Use Visual Deterrents

Owls are cautious creatures and can be deterred by visual stimuli. Hang shiny objects, such as metallic strips or old CDs, near your cat’s outdoor play area to discourage owls from approaching.

Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe

Trim Trees And Shrubs.

Keep trees and shrubs near your home well-trimmed to reduce the chances of owls perching close to your cat’s outdoor space. This will make it harder for owls to access your cat.

Avoid Attracting Prey Species.

Take steps to minimise the presence of prey species in your yard. Secure garbage cans, clean up fallen fruits, and use bird feeders that do not attract rodents. This will reduce the likelihood of owls hunting in your vicinity.

Educate Neighbours

Spread awareness among your neighbours about the potential risks owls pose to cats. Encourage them to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their pets as well.


While it is uncommon for owls to eat full-grown cats, smaller cats may be at a higher risk of owl attacks. Barn owls and great-horned owls are the two species most commonly associated with attacking cats.

Owls may attack cats due to territorial defence, scarcity of prey, protecting young, unusual circumstances, or mistaken identity. To keep your cat safe, it is advisable to keep them indoors, supervise outdoor activities.

Provide secure enclosures, install deterrents, trim trees and shrubs, avoid attracting prey species, and educate your neighbours about owl risks.

By taking these precautions, you can ensure the well-being of your feline friend and provide them with a safe environment to enjoy their lives.

To read more blogs about pet care, visit here.


Can an owl pick up a cat?

Most dogs and cats are large enough to be safe from hawks and owls.

Will an owl attack a cat at night?

Yes, it could, if the kitten is where the owl can get to it.

What are owls afraid of?

From Humans.

Why is my cat a night owl?

Cats are crepuscular, which means they hunt and are active in the evening or early morning.

Why are cats like owls?

Both cat and owl are small, nocturnal predators.

What animal are cats afraid of?

Cats are genetically hard-wired through instinct to avoid snakes.

Do owls eat owls?

Great-horned owls will eat other raptors.

Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe
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Do Owls Eat Cats? How To Keep It Safe
Owls typically do not eat cats. Their diet mainly consists of small mammals like mice, rats, and other rodents, as well as insects, birds, and occasionally fish.
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