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Strange/disturbing experience, looking for advice and to process it

WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
Warning: pet people like me might not want to read this.

I had a disquieting morning - I was walking my dog and he started pulling strongly at the lead into a large area of grass. I thought he was just excited to pee, but he lead me straight to something pretty... gruesome.

It was a dead cat that had clearly been gotten to by coyotes in the area (Southern california in a neighborhood close to some wilderness/mountain areas). I'm a pet person... maybe this isn't much to some people, but to me it was very disturbing.

Don't read this if you like cat's - writing this partially to get this off my chest because I haven't really spoken to anyone about it except my wife and I spared her the details.
It was a cats head. An outdoor cat I had seen around occasionally that wouldn't approach me.

More detailed description in the spoiler.
More to the point it was a cats face with everything chewed off the back of the skull. There was no body. It was facing away from me so I couldn't figure out what it was at first - my initial thought was actually that it looked like a mango-esque red fruit that had been partially eaten and that the pit was showing. Then I wondered why one end was furry. On the other side of it was the context to let it drop into place - a peaceful looking cat's face.

I said 'Oh fuck' quite loudly - a neighbor overheard from their balcony and came over. After some deliberation and talking about it with him, I disposed of it (I didn't touch it, and still washed my hands thoroughly afterwards). If... there had been more of the cat, I probably would have called animal control or tried to figure something else out. And it was not the sort of thing I would have taken to the owner to possibly bury without really disturbing them. And this may be controversial here but this is what the 'help/advice' portion will be about - but the neighbor and I then came to the conclusion that telling the owner that their pet had been eaten by coyotes would be worse than thinking it had just run away or was lost.

Ok, so heres the question. There have been two other missing cat signs recently (they were not the cat I found). I have seen one additional outdoor cat (my wife and I tried to coax it over to us to take back to its home, but it ran away). Should I post signs to the effect of 'Coyotes in the area, keep pets indoors as they will get eaten'/'found cat eaten by coyotes, keep your pets indoors'? This would clearly make the people with missing cats (if they haven't found them) think they were eaten ... which personally I don't know if it is better than just thinking the cat is lost. And should I try and find the owner of the cat that I did find and tell them directly what happened?

Posts

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    Call your local animal control right away. An animal that's doing that could be dangerous to people too

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  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    Call your local animal control right away. An animal that's doing that could be dangerous to people too

    I will call (tomorrow, they won't be open now), but this isn't something that animal control around here doesn't know about. The local website basically says 'Keep your pets indoors, they will get eaten'.

  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    First, I'm sorry you and your neighbor had to deal with that situation. Sent a shiver down my spine reading it as I've been in similar situations but perhaps not quite at that level.

    Second, I think you absolutely should post a warning for the neighborhood. As a pet lover and not really an expert, the wise thing to do with cats is keep them indoors. First result of googling "should I let my cat out" is http://www.petfinder.com/cats/cat-care/6-indoor-outdoor-cat-myths/

    And that site lines up with what I've been led to understand. Cats are domestic house animals. Unless they are being used as vermin control on a farm, but then they aren't really pets then.

    It's like my neighbors who let their dogs out in the back yard by opening the door and closing it right away. No fence, no leash. From my perspective these pet owners are being lazy and neglectful. Dog or cat, in the city they should be indoors or on leash, otherwise you are risking their lives needlessly.

    I think you have the right idea with the posting and hopefully some people will see it and it will save at least one cat's life from the same fate.

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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    I'd print a note and pop it in all the mailboxes nearby - "Found the remains of a cat, remember local coyotes will take your pets."

    Psykoma
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    by 'outdoor cat' do you mean "I have irresponsible neighbors who let their cats run around the neighborhood" or do you mean 'Feral'?
    Because for the former put a notice up if you feel like it. Feral cats on the other hand are really a giant environmental problem for the most part. Kill tons of animals, particularly birds, for sport. Spread diseases via scat, etc.(This is actually just as true of the free to roam pet). So in that case(either really?) good riddance?



    IDK, things getting eaten by things is pretty much nature in a nut shell.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I once saw a deer get hit by a car at high speed. It actually messed me up for a few days and I can still see it in my head if I think of it. I know life is like that, but I think most people (including me) are so sheltered from it that seeing the evidence is still pretty disturbing.

    I guess a note is probably your best bet... maybe more gentle than "coyotes be eating your pets", but I would have a very difficult time approaching the owner. Best case, they nod sadly and thank you for letting them know, worst case they are super fucking pissed that you didn't let them bury the face thiemselves, or that you assume it's their cat, or.. whatever. I guess if I had a relationship with them and knew how they'd react I'd feel better about doing it.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    I would make a small effort to try and find the previous owners of the cat and let them know what happened, hoping for the off chance that they might start keeping their pets indoors.


    Sorry you had to see that. :|

    With Love and Courage
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    If you know whose cat this is, I think it's better to let them know you found their cat, and it's probably for the best they didn't see / have to bury it. Odds are they won't press you for details.

    If they are someone who would be very upset about this, they are probably already very upset about the uncertainty. Knowing will help them cope / begin getting over it, even if they have a hard time dealing with it right away.

    If they are someone who isn't particularly upset or concerned, then they probably won't be particularly bothered. In general, I'd assume anyone who lets their cat outside in an urban / suburban setting is someone more likely to fall into this category. If it wasn't coyotes, it would be a neighbor's dog, a car, etc eventually.

    I wouldn't bother putting up signs about coyotes in the area. I'd let Animal Control know, but if they already have a warning up on their site and you live in an area with coyotes...I wouldn't expect anyone who hasn't already taken notice to take notice of new signs. At most, if you do see a cat outside and know the owner, possibly try to return it because it 'got out', and let them know there are coyotes in the area and letting a house pet run free is a good way for it to catch disease / get killed. That, or simply take it to a local shelter where it's more likely to end up in a home that properly cares for their pets.

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  • cookiekrushcookiekrush Registered User regular
    Normally, if you inform local animal control, they'll release a statement if the coyotes are being more active than normal. I'd usually see it in the newspaper when coyotes venture into more populated places. They will go after small animal and small children. They can attack during the day as well (rarely, but if they're hungry enough, they will).

    I'm sorry you had to see that. It is best to at least let your neighbors know, so they know that they can make their own decisions on how they let their pets outside. If they happen to see a coyote, make loud noises, stomp, yell, if you have a flashlight, blind them with it. Spook them into running away.

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  • PsykomaPsykoma Registered User regular
    This is why I keep my cat indoors, not only because there are many animals nearby who could kill her, but also because there are neighbors in the area who set traps for those animals, which an unwary domestic cat could easily fall for.

    Calling animal control is a definite. If you know who the cat belonged to, then tell them as well.

  • MrDelishMrDelish Registered User regular
    I'd print a note and pop it in all the mailboxes nearby - "Found the remains of a cat, remember local coyotes will take your pets."

    A note is a great idea but he should put it on people's gates or doors since placing things in or on a mailbox is illegal.

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    Postings signs isn't a bad idea. This happens a lot in my neighborhood as I live on the border of a regional park with lots of wildlife in it. Neighbors will usually post warnings when they find things like this or when they see coyotes stalking around in the neighborhood.

    On the bright side, just know that coyotes are pretty cute little animals too and that poor cat allowed a coyote to keep on keepin' on.

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    MrDelish wrote: »
    I'd print a note and pop it in all the mailboxes nearby - "Found the remains of a cat, remember local coyotes will take your pets."

    A note is a great idea but he should put it on people's gates or doors since placing things in or on a mailbox is illegal.

    really?!

    our local churches and HOA are in trouble!

    chrishallett83
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    MrDelish wrote: »
    I'd print a note and pop it in all the mailboxes nearby - "Found the remains of a cat, remember local coyotes will take your pets."

    A note is a great idea but he should put it on people's gates or doors since placing things in or on a mailbox is illegal.

    really?!

    our local churches and HOA are in trouble!

    Yeah, it's illegal to put anything in or attach it to a mailbox without paying postage. Note that only applies to the mailbox itself - it's legal to hang other non-mailbox items (like newspaper boxes) from the post as long as they aren't attached to the mailbox proper (i.e. flag, door, etc).

    It is legal to insert other materials through a mail slot on the door.

    Technically, the post office is supposed to collect items like ads, flyers, etc hung from the mailbox and estimate distribution and how much would be collected in postage, and charge the distributor the estimated amount. This rarely happens since it's a pain in the ass and nobody legitimate (thus, with enough resources to go after) really does this.

    That's why phone books from the big companies are usually on your doorstep and not hanging from your mailbox.

    Xaquin
  • azith28azith28 Registered User regular
    I think it would be better to know if something happen to my cat then to just have it dissapear. as others have said, call animal control, a few posters would not hurt. If you know whos cat it is, i would inform them that you found the remains and buried them.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    How will you find whose cat it is? If there was a collar with a name you could maybe find the owner. But just half a head is not much to go on, unfortunately. So you can let go of the guilt because you can't do anything more than place up warning posters.

  • badger2dbadger2d San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    I don't think anyone ought to be particularly surprised by the notion that a runaway pet could be caught by a wild predator, and if they are they're just not living in reality. I see nothing wrong with posting signs to remind the neighbors of this if you feel a strong need to do something, and who knows, it may influence someone to keep their cat inside in the future.

    I don't feel you have a particular responsibility to try to root out the owners of the unfortunate feline whose remains you discovered, though, if you don't know them in the first place. I had a cat run away once in Southern California. I knew the odds were that it was coyote prey, but I don't think it would have improved the sad situation any if a stranger showed up to confirm that as fact.

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  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    Yeah, as someone who grew up with outdoor cats in a rural-ish suburban area, if they disappeared, the assumption was generally that they had been reintegrated into the food chain. I'm not sure you have much obligation to warn people about the dangers outdoors cat face, since they probably already know, and if they don't, they probably do now that their cat is gone.

    I mean, the signs aren't an awful idea, but I'm not sure they will really accomplish much. If you have an outdoor cat, you're not just going to start keeping it inside one day, coyote warning or no. And if you have a missing cat in a neighborhood full of missing cats, you probably pretty much know what's up.

    I would not find the cat's owners and tell them. It's not gonna bring the cat back, it's just going to be really unpleasant for you.

    I would just do my best to put this little guy out of my mind. I've had a similar situation involving a kitten in the middle of the road who had been hit, but not killed. It was pretty haunting for awhile, but luckily (weirdly enough), I was on vacation, so I didn't have a lot of time to dwell on how awful it was. Maybe keep busy, and/or exercise a little extra, so that you tire yourself out and don't have as much capacity to think about it for the time being? That's all I got.

  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    I'd say the fact that there are missing cat posters in his neighborhood is pretty good proof that they neighborhood needs an education on what it seems most of us here already understand as the dangers of allowing your pet to roam free. I still think putting up warning posters is a good idea, and I'm on board with giving the local animal control office another data point as well.

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  • TaekoTaeko Miami, FLRegistered User regular
    edited April 2015
    This post has been removed.

    Taeko on
    The Ender
  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    Having worked for emergency dispatch in southern California for years, I can assure you the chances that animal control will care/do anything is about 0%. Coyotes are common around here, and they eat cats quite a lot. Heck, it might have even been a mountain lion - and they won't even respond to calls of people watching those walk right by their house.

    It's sad and you can make an effort to contact the owner to let them know, but that's about it. It's awful irresponsible of them to let the cat out in the area though, considering how rampant the problems with coyotes are.

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