No kitty is safe in the Town of Lac du Bonnet thanks to a roaming pack of coyotes prowling the southeastern Manitoba community.
About 30 pet cats have gone missing from the area in the past two months with people making grisly discoveries of feline body parts all over town.
Larry Nadolsky followed the trail of blood and fur tufts from his yard to a tennis court next door where all that was left of the family cat named Lynx was her head.
"Coyotes got right into our back yard," he said.
"For the women in my family, it is upsetting. The women were all crying," he said.
Nadolsky elected to give Lynx a proper burial. He put the cat's head in a box, got a shovel, went into the bush and dug a hole.
Several cats missing, killed
One woman in Lac du Bonnet, about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, found just the paws of her cat after coyotes presumably had it for dinner. Residents have reported seeing packs of as many as six coyotes walking through town.
"I've had cats for forever and this has never happened before," Nadolsky said.
Ashley Jones said her pet Eddie, a white "snowball" cat, was being taken care of by her parents in Lac du Bonnet while she was away. On July 8, her mom Eileen went looking for Eddie only to come across a "fluffy red blob" in the park where her cat met its demise.
Jones is disturbed conservation officers aren't doing more to catch the coyotes and believes they are waiting until a human is attacked.
"We've been told that they can't and won't do anything about it," she said.
Cheri Waite lives less than a kilometre outside Lac du Bonnet. When her cat didn't come home in June, she went looking, but the only thing she found was her cat's collar.
Waite's mother's cat was killed a week ago. All she found was a lone paw. Her mother has twice seen a coyote in her yard, both times in the morning.
"We've lived here all our lives and never had a coyote issue before," Waite said.
She has been told by animal experts that coyotes will hide in the bushes and make whimpering sounds to lure an ever-curious cat, then ambush the pet.
"Conservation officers say the coyote is too smart. They can't set up a live trap, and they don't want to set up a kill trap because there are dogs around, too," Waite said.
Keep cats indoors, suggests gov't
However, conservation officers have told landowners they can shoot a coyote on their property, she noted. In a prepared statement, Manitoba Sustainable Development clarified the law to the Free Press.
"As per section 46(1) of The Wildlife Act, a person may kill or take any wildlife, other than a moose, caribou, deer, antelope, cougar, elk or game bird, on his own land for the purpose of defending or preserving his property," the department said.
Sustainable Development recommended keeping cats indoors.
"Many house cats will prey on wildlife such as birds or rabbits. Allowing pets to roam freely outdoors introduces them to the food chain, both as a hunter and as prey," the province said.
Owners said that isn't realistic once a cat is accustomed to going outside.
Nadolsky believes the coyotes may go after people's dogs next since the cat population is dwindling.
"It seems to me (the coyotes) are getting bolder and more aggressive. They're looking to pick off an easy meal," he said.
Cat owners who share stories on a local Facebook page have been subject to some barbs from commenters, Waite said.
"Stop feeding the coyotes with your cats," said one. "Who cares? It's just a dumb cat," said another.
"They're still our pets and still our families," Waite said.
If a coyote has mange or rabies it might start attacking people next, she said.