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Do Owls Eat Cats? (Here’s the Truth)

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You may have heard the stories and seen the videos of owls swooping down out of the sky, grasping some poor unsuspecting kitty in its talons, and flying off into the night. Some people swear that they’ve seen it happen, while others are convinced that owls wouldn’t touch a cat if its life depended on it.

A big beautiful owl sitting on a tree branch.

So, which is it? Do owls eat cats or not? Let’s find out.


Do Owls Eat Cats?

The answer, as it so often is, is somewhere in the middle. While owls will kill and eat a cat under certain circumstances, they don’t typically hunt them as their primary food source. In fact, most owls prefer to eat small rodents like mice and shrews. That’s not to say that an owl won’t go after a cat if its preferred prey is scarce; if an owl feels particularly hungry, it will take whatever it can get.

The first thing to understand is that owls are birds of prey. They come equipped with sharp talons and beaks to kill in order to survive. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see how an owl could take down a small cat. However, owls swallow their prey either whole or in large pieces, so size plays a role in whether or not it will hunt cats. In other words, the larger the owl, the more appetizing the cat will be.

Still, owls typically steer clear of cats. Cats are much larger than the average owl’s preferred prey, which means they can put up quite a fight. Not only that, but cats also have sharp claws and teeth that can do some severe damage to an owl. If an owl does manage to kill a cat, there’s a good chance it won’t survive the encounter unscathed.

Why Do Owls Eat Cats?

A big beautiful owl sitting on rock on a sunset.

As it turns out, owls are opportunistic hunters, meaning they will take whatever prey is available, whether it’s their preferred food source or not. As a result, some species of owls have been known to capture and eat domestic cats during lean times.

The reasons behind this unusual predatory behavior vary depending on the individual species and location. Still, it typically happens when food is scarce or environmental factors like habitat loss have reduced the population of other potential prey animals in the area.

However, it’s more likely that the owl is defending its territory or protecting its young than it’s actually hungry. Owls are fiercely territorial creatures, and they will do whatever it takes to defend their nest site from perceived threats. Unfortunately for cats, they tend to fall into the “threat” category in an owl’s eyes.


A big beautiful owl standing on rocky soil.

While it is technically possible for some owls to kill and eat a cat, it’s not something that often happens. Generally speaking, owls go after smaller prey, like rodents, insects, or reptiles. There have been reports of owls attacking and killing cats, but these instances are relatively rare. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but predation on cats is usually not their primary mode of operation.

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