Fox versus house cat

- February 24th, 2010

This morning I was cleaning snow off the deer feeder when I noticed some fox tracks coming down the trail towards the house. They were partially snow covered, but you could tell it was during the night.

 

Old Foxy had actually walked around the perimeter of our house, following the tracks made by the neighbour’s cat from yesterday afternoon.  It even went up on our front deck to check out one of the cat’s favourite hangout spots.

 

Now its nothing strange to see foxes in the backfield (We call them Swiper) especially in Spring when they’re out hunting meadow voles in that classic pounce of theirs. It really neat to watch!

Fox

 

But this is the first time a red fox has come so close to house, and I’m wondering now if it was, in fact, hunting the neighbour’s cat?
Although much lankier, foxes generally weigh about 10-15 pounds, which is about the same size as a typical house cat, but I wonder if they would kill and eat one? Its not something I’ve ever really thought about since most foxes feed on small mammals.

 

I know that mink will kill and eat muskrats – which are easily the same weight – so I wonder if a fox would pursue and take down a house cat?

 

It would be one heck of a battle; I tell you that, but my money’s on the fox.

 
If anyone can shed some light on this please drop me a line.

 

 

Outdoorsguy

Categories: Outdoors

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32 comments

  1. Dan says:

    He was more than likely looking for the cat. Foxes have great sense of smell, and the fox would win if they had a scrap, unless it was a big tomcat. Ah Geeze..hope my wife does not read this!
    Dan

  2. jeff.morrison says:

    See Dan, we don’t have a cat so Im ok.

    I’m going to research it, because it would be interesting to know if foxes have adapted to hunting cats now, as the fisher and coyote obviously have.

    Thanks,

    Outdoorsguy

  3. chessy says:

    in cobourg ontario a few years back there was a three legged fox and his main food source was cat… on home owner heard her cat at the door when she opened it there was the fox with her cat in its mouth… the cat was never seen again .. foxes will eat cats

  4. Trapper says:

    Quote: ” so I wonder if a fox would pursue and take down a house cat?”

    I for one certainly hope so. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than cat owners who think it’s ok to let their cat roam.

    My money would be on the fox.

    Fisher are frequenting built up areas more and more and a cat is not contest to a Fisher.

  5. jeff.morrison says:

    Thanks Chessy..looks like the neighbour’s cat ‘blackie’ might be in trouble then..

    I suppose if a ‘three-legged’ fox can take down a cat, one on all four legs should have no trouble at all!

    Outdoorsguy

  6. chessy says:

    yes and the bad part of all this is the cats are usually de clawed making your neighbourhood like a stocked pond for the foxes

  7. Dan's wife says:

    Just gave him heck for that comment – am proud cat owner and my cats do not go outdoors but my guess would be the fox probably would kill it – maybe let your neighbour’s know about the fox in the area and to keep their cat indoors!

    Dan’s wife

  8. jeff.morrison says:

    Dan’s wife? Hey, that’s my bit!

    Just kidding…actually, I will probably let our neighbour’s know this evening; the problem is their cat has been wandering now for so long, I’m not even sure it could live indoors.

    I’m pretty sure Blackie spends the night’s indoors and then wanders all day long.

    Thanks Dan’s wife and I’ll make sure Dan doesn’t get out of line.

    Outdoorsguy

  9. chessy says:

    lol at dans wife … also .. the people put cats out on leashes . i am chuckling as i write this . the fox and the cat on a leash better than the grocery store .. go from one house to the other picking whats for dinner tonight

  10. Bar says:

    One of my friends was at a cabin northeast of Ottawa for a weekend with his wife. They had a cat with them which they allowed outside. They were sitting by a campfire outside the cabin one night. Suddenly their cat came running past them at high speed followed by a fox in hot pursuit. Neither they nor the fire deterred the fox. The cat made it inside the cabin and the fox broke off the chase. The cat spent the rest of the weekend hiding under a couch inside.

  11. jeff.morrison says:

    Thanks Bar for the first-hand account of what can happen.

    I dont want to start a panic like with the coyotes, but if I were a cat owner I would be
    mindful of foxes from now on!

    Of course, our dog only weighs 12 pounds so I might want to keep an eye on her as well.

    Outdoorsguy

  12. chessy says:

    I did not know real dogs were that small (12 pounds) I thought you were a hunter ?????

  13. jeff.morrison says:

    Sorry Chessy, that was typo! I meant to write 120 pounds..she’s a Rottweiler!

    Outdoorsguy

  14. paul harris says:

    Jeff,i myself welcome the foxes to dine on all the cats that are roaming around.It seems that all these people want a cat so bad untill they get it home,then put it out and let it kill all the birds just for the fun with no intention of eating.Of course these concerned pet owners don’t have there cat’s neutered so we then have kittens running around as well.If they had to buy a license for there cat every year like a dog owner.I guess you can tell i’m not a fan of cats so my neighbourhood is a great place to let a couple foxes go to test your theory as to whether fox love cats to dine on.

  15. jeff.morrison says:

    Paul, I’m not touching that one, but I can hear what you’re saying.

    I was never a cat person myself, always preferred dogs, and I agree that owners need
    to put more effort into keeping tabs on the felines..

    This is not to say that most people don’t, but obviously there are a lot more stray cats
    around than dogs. Yes, and there was the time a neighbour’s cat took out both a family of baby birds at the front of our house…and a lame partridge at the back property, all in the same week.

    The poor little grouse use to hang out there with us, until the cat showed up! We called her Lori Patridge..

    Outdoorsguy

  16. Alex says:

    I have listen that cat hunting the rat. But here i am seeing the another one the fox hunting the rate, hey wait a min i think he is playing with rat just watch it carefully.There is one question whether fox sniffing is greater or cat

  17. Trapper says:

    Paul, I’ll touch it….I agree 100%.

  18. AllenS-67 says:

    I had foxes in my backyard before and they were no bother for my cats or dogs. They did hunt the squirls and wild rabbits though. Oh for Paul, mine aer nuetered but they seem to hunt voles and mice more than birds.

  19. Earl says:

    After reading this, there is a fox that insists on hang out in our backyard that will soon be going an a journey to that great hunting ground in the sky. Two weeks ago a fox chased my cat up a tree and circled waiting for it to come back down. We opened the door and the fox took off. Several days later fox still coming through back yard, cats absolutely terrified. I decided to discourage the fox from being in the backyard and fired my rifle at it. Now a day later, he’s back and I’m afraid it has come down to the safety of my cats. The fox is really beautiful, but unlike my 2 cats he’s not a member of the family.

  20. barb says:

    Domestic and feral cats are very wary of foxes….having said that….a good size tom cat not declawed has every capability of turning a fox into hamburger since cats instinctively roll on their backs to utilize twenty razor sharp claws and their teeth, cats are much faster than most land animals when fighting, their muscle reflexes are in a higher speed range than most prey animals. Having said that, if a fox were to ambush a cat and be able to pounce on it from behind it would probably win as it would have a hold of the cat’s neck. In any event, no prey animals want to be injured and they avoid fights when possible but when push comes to shove my money would be on a large tomcat vs the fox.

  21. Jim says:

    I have a 5 year old large powewrful ginger Tom cat which is so fox like in its colouring has been mistaken for a fox when seen in an open field. He weighs about 13 to 15 pounds and spends almost all his time outdoors day and night in a rural area with quite a few foxes around. He is still around and I would say that a fox would avoid him as a fellow predator because I would bet on him killing or seriously wounding the fox if it had the stupidity of cornering him, Okay the cat miight get injured but a healthy fox is not going to risk injury when a Tom cat is in full fight mode. He hunts rabbits and would be bigger than most vixens. I had seen a large dog fox watching him once in the field behind me but it wisely changed course to avoiid him. If a fox confronted a cat, the cat would have to be a much smaller female cat or kitten for the fox to kill it without suffering serious cuts to itself

  22. Pete says:

    We have had a fox visit our yard over the past few weeks. Our tiger cat confronted it and took some swipes at it. The fox didn’t retreat but adopted a defensive posture and emitted a high pitched noise until my wife chased it away. Our Tiger is a hunter and will not back down from the fox. I hope the fox is discouraged from returning, but I will not lock our cat away. He has roamed our yard since he was a kitten and keeps the area clear of mice and moles. He has brought home the occasional bird, but usually lets them be. It’s his right to defend his turf and he has done so against other cats and the occasional dog – it’s quite a sight to see a cat chase a border collie at full speed. He is almost 15 but looks and behaves the same as when he was 5 – slim, but well-muscled. I have never seen or heard of him damaging anyone’s property or disturbing anyone. He is friendly, tolerates children well and usually comes when called. He has had a long, healthy, active life and is well-loved. If his end comes at the jaws of a fox, that wouldn’t be the worst end for a cat – I’ve seen many peoples’ cats slowly suffer. If you’re one of those who just don’t like cats, that’s your prerogative. Just remember that it’s very bad luck to harm a cat – especially mine.

  23. Karen says:

    We have a fox back for the second year denning under an older outbuilding a couple hundred feet from the house. 4 babies last year, looks like 2 this year. Seems she is able to catch more than she can use as she must be caching things. We found what appears to be a large turkey leg buried in our garden that was not there last week. We are hoping it was a wild one plentiful in the area and not one of our neighbours! BUT my brother in law next door found what appears to be remains of a cat buried in his garden. Hubby no longer hassles me for keeping the cats indoors!! So many farmers around us have removed most of the bush so the foxes are living closer and closer to people and their pets. Pet owners must adjust as the foxes have no other choice for living arrangements.

  24. jeff.morrison says:

    Great stories Pete & Jim .its funny, a week or so ago, I had to break-up a near clash between ‘Swiper’ the fox and the neighbour’s cat.

    The Gawd-awful screeches outta that cat were unreal…almost sounded like a baby crying. Turned out the fox hadn’t even touched the cat yet..it was just his defence mechanism I suppose as they stared at each other..as soon as the fox saw me, though, it hightailed it outta there..and that old cat never moved a muscle. It just stood its ground – eyeball to eyeball with the fox!

    Over the years we’ve heard that sound and wondered what it was..apparently the showdown has played out before and for whatever reason the cat has always lived to tell!

    Outdoorsguy

  25. jeff.morrison says:

    Karen, evidentally not all cats are good figheters..

    Outdoorsguy

  26. Jim says:

    I would reckon that female cats are more vulnerable to being attacked and ‘eaten’ by a fox as they are generally much smaller and lighter than the tom cat. I would suspect that any cat which has fallen victim to these small predators would either be a small female or very young cat…it is extremely doubtful that any even small or average size Tom cat would end up as fox’s meal unless it was quite a gentle and overweight and possibly declawed house Tom. [even then I would say that when survival instinct kicked in it would do enough to injure the fox]. My experience of life in the country with a lot of foxes a round is that the Tom cat and the fox avoid each other A fox is more feline than dog in its jaw and build so most small dogs would kill a fox just as they would a Tom cat, but not without possible serious facial injury to themselves. I have seen a TV programme of cats in London chasing town foxes out of their gardens at night.

  27. Dragon says:

    Actually check out some youtube videos. Foxes will generally back down from a cat when in the cats territory.

    As much guff as cat get for being scaredy cats, pussy cats, etc. I have never seen a >20lbs anything make a bear check itself like a cat… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfgV9X1uLZ0 – Sure the bear gets the food eventually, but it was not getting any closer to that angry ball of fluff and claws than it had to

  28. Laura Mello says:

    We live in California in a semi-rural area and have always owned a cat until last year when the last cat died and we decided not to replace her. Since then we had a fox come into our yard to hunt the vermin in the hedges, I believe. It is a California Grey Fox, considerably smaller than the red foxes many of whom were introduced from Europe. We only saw it once and were delighted because we thought it was on the endangered species list.

    However, since then the neighbor’s cat has moved in and the fox is nowhere to be seen. I think these little 7 pound foxes are no match for a cat that has not been declawed. One thing about a fox in the yard, it kills the lawn by digging little holes to lie down in. So not having it around is a mixed blessing.

  29. crazycatladyfoxlover says:

    I am in Australia and we have red foxes here. Yes I have seen them chase the neighbours cat. (about a week after the vet assured me that would never happen) Thank fully my kelpie saw this and then chased the fox, chasing the cat, and it was the only thing that saved the cat.

    I have a ‘full set’ of house cats and a friendly fox pup who hangs around the house. I have seen my cats attack it when they can get at it. But Im not sure how that would play out when it gets bigger. We saw a grown fox walk past within a foot of one of our cats who was having a feed of fresh rabbit to hop up onto the back table to help themselves to the pecans. Didn’t even notice me standing there.
    So maybe if you have a complimentary bowl of shelled pecans for them they will leave the cats alone. hehe

  30. andrew says:

    Fox vs domesticated cat…This is a very interesting battle for several reasons. A house cat and wild fox are similar weight. Although, an average size fox would more than likely be a couple pounds heavier than a cat. Predatory animals tend to avoid conflict because an injury to a wild hunter could cause starvation. If a fight occurred, over food or being cornered, I would give the decision to a cat. Let me explain. Foxes are very shy, for they live underground in dens. A fox only attacks with its teeth, while a cat uses teeth and claws. The only way a fox would win is an ambush. Head to head, the timid fox will likely back down.

  31. D says:

    I’ve had a few cat vs fox experiences in my life. Multiple cats and multiple foxes. Far as I can tell a fox sure runs when a cat gets the claws flying. They’re also not nearly as fierce as cats. Don’t stand their ground as well. Fox can beat cat, sure. A fox and a declawed cat, i’d give it to the fox. Though if we cut Paul fingers off i’m pretty sure someone of similar size would whip his ass pretty bad too. The world of fighting has also taught me that any fighter can beat any other fighter any day of the week. You never know exactly how it’s going to go. So keep your cats inside or get them a guard dog. Our neighbourhood has a stray German shepard that guards the local cats from coyotes and foxes and anything else that might wander in. (I live in a small community outside of a major city)

  32. John says:

    My cat (9 year old healthy large male) was actually playing with a fox in the front yard. They were taking turns chasing each other, making mock charges and retreating in an alternating fashion that appeared totally playful. Wish I had been able to film it.

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