Do hawks pick up cats?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Hawks are formidable predators and have been observed preying on cats in certain situations. While it is not a common occurrence, there have been instances where hawks have targeted and carried off small kittens or even full-grown cats. The ability of a hawk to pick up a cat depends on various factors, primarily the size and strength of the bird itself.

Hawks come in different species and sizes, ranging from smaller species like the Sharp-shinned hawk to larger ones like the Red-tailed hawk. The size and weight of these birds play a crucial role in determining the size of prey they can lift and carry. A larger hawk, such as the Red-tailed hawk, can have a wingspan of up to four feet and weigh around 2 pounds. These impressive physical attributes enable them to take down relatively larger prey.

When it comes to cats, the risk of being targeted by a hawk is higher for smaller breeds or kittens. Hawks are more likely to perceive them as potential prey due to their smaller size and vulnerability. Adult cats, on the other hand, are generally less at risk as they are larger and more capable of defending themselves. However, there have been cases where hawks have successfully carried off adult cats as well.

It’s important to note that the likelihood of a hawk attacking a cat varies depending on the environment and the availability of alternative prey. Hawks primarily hunt for small mammals, birds, and reptiles, but they are opportunistic hunters and can adapt to different food sources. If prey is scarce or if a hawk is particularly hungry, it may be more inclined to go after a cat.

To protect your cats from potential hawk attacks, it is advisable to keep them indoors or supervise them when they are outside. Providing a safe and enclosed outdoor space, such as a catio or a fenced-in area, can also help minimize the risk. Being aware of the presence of hawks in your area and taking necessary precautions can go a long way in ensuring the safety of your feline friends.

While hawks have been known to pick up cats, the likelihood of such incidents occurring depends on various factors, including the size and species of the hawk, the size of the cat, and the availability of alternative prey. Taking preventive measures and being cautious can significantly reduce the risk of hawk attacks on cats.