do hawks eat cats

Do Hawks Eat Cats? What You Need To Know

Yes. It is quite possible for a hawk to attack and potentially eat a cat.

There are numerous videos circulating the internet of hawks catching cats. However, that’s not to say this is something that happens frequently, hawk attacks on cats are rare.

Hawks may have their preferred prey, but like all raptors and other predators, they are opportunists.

In the wild, feeding is uncertain, so even though cats may not be their chosen prey, there’s no reason to discount them as occasional food if needs must.

Both hawks and cats come in different sizes, so it comes down to size, hunger and opportunity.

What To Do To Protect Your Cat From Hawks:

  • Don’t leave out bird seed.
  • Put other pet food indoors.
  • Build enclosed cat runs.
  • Stay outside with your cat when it is exercising.
  • Use a hawk repellent (amazon link).
General Facts About Hawks:
– Scientific name: Accipitridae and Buteo are the overall categories that they come under, but each species has its own particular name.
– Lifespan: Red-tailed hawks live around 3 years, but that can change according to species.
– Size: up to 22 inches, but it varies with the breed.
– Wingspans: this varies between 4ft-7ft, depending on the species.
– Diet: Carnivorous
– Habitat: Generally open lands.

Also Read:
Do Owls Eat Cats?
Do Eagles Eat Cats?
Do Buzzards Eat Cats?

Statistics about Hawks

There are estimated to be around 2 million hawks In North America, which accounts for 90% of the world’s total, and the population is increasing.

There are 200 species of hawk in the world and 25 of those inhabit North America.

Some diving hawks can reach velocities of 120mph or over.

Despite preferring open flatlands they have expanded their traditional habitat to include all types of terrain. They have adapted to almost every type of environment.

Some are monogamous and mate for life.

Anecdotal Evidence Of Hawk Attacks On Cats

Although you can find filmed evidence and reports of hawks attacking domestic cats it isn’t something that takes place very often.

do hawks eat cats

There are various factors to take into account when talking about this subject. Although birds of prey can come in different sizes, hawks, in general, are usually quite small.

At an average of 3lbs hawks don’t have any weight advantage against the average cat. Then again, cats come in different weights and sizes too.

Video below of hawk catching a cat:

**The graphic content in this video may be disturbing to some people**

In wildlife areas or on the edge of them, hawks can find plenty of their natural prey animals, so cats probably won’t figure on the menu.

Around urban and suburban areas there is a feast laid out in the form of domestic pets of all kinds. Your cat will be just one of many.

Of course, if your cat is prone to climb trees and a pair of hawks are nesting in one, then the hawks will defend their young.

Kittens may well seem a good target, as they small and light, easy to subdue or carry off.

Small dogs run the same risk, but when you think of the numbers of cats and the numbers of hawks, attacks aren’t a frequent occurrence

The hawk kills its prey with its talons as opposed to other predator birds, such as the falcon.


Cats vs Hawks

Despite the fact that most cats are scrappy and will defend themselves from almost any predator, hawks do have a couple of advantages over cats, advantages that can overcome the obvious weight differential.

Hawks are swift and silent hunters. They don’t advertise their attacks. This surprise element would be enough to overwhelm a cat.

The beaks and talons of most hawks are incredibly sharp and strong.  If a hawk couldn’t lift a cat to eat it someplace else, they can pin it down, kill it, and eat it on the spot.

A low horizontal attack is just as devastating as a plummet down from directly above.

Hawks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918.

Cats at Risk

Of course, old and infirm cats are at risk from predators that take small mammals.

Newborn kittens would probably entice a hungry hawk, but the most vulnerable are solitary cats, those that go off wandering and exploring.

A hawk’s diet is predictable and includes a variety of smaller animals. Some of these small animals include snakes, lizards, fish, mice, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and any other type of small game that is found on the ground.

National Geographical 2012

How to Keep Hawks Away:

  1. Trim any branches in and around your property to deny hawks perching places.
  2. Use motion sensor lights
  3. Remove any nests, but only when they are empty of eggs.
  4. Don’t let your cat or other pets out during the early morning or evening hours.
  5. Supervise your cat and other animals when they are outside.
  6. Keep your property clean, as rodents and other scavengers attract hawks.

These [Hawks] can snatch moving prey almost effortlessly from both ground and air.

Other Pets at Risk

As cats may be the occasional, opportunistic target of a hawk attack, then other small pets will be at risk too.

Hawks have been known to attack small dogs, so fowl, hamsters, rabbits, or reptiles and fish in your pond could become a meal.


There you have it. The answer to the question ‘Do hawks eat cats’ is yes they can and they do, but on rare occasions.

Because of their mobility, their gliding and hovering skills, it is unlikely that a wild hawk will target your backyard or your cat as food source.


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