Do Hawks Eat Cats?

Many birds that prey on small animals don’t distinguish between your beloved pet and a wild creature. Pet owners need to be vigilant about these air-raptors because anything can happen. All birds have a specific preference. However, when they fixate on something, there’s no stopping them.

Pets that are more at risk are usually those people leave outdoors unsupervised. While birds don’t attack domestic pets, they sometimes swoop on small puppies, such as miniature or toy breeds, small kittens, guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens.

Quick Answer

If the hawks get the chance, they might pick up your cat with their talons and fly away. A hawk will attack a small cat when there’s no food available nearby. This is mostly an urban myth, but this can happen on extremely rare occasions. The two most common birds of prey in the US are great horned owls and tailed hawks. They are mostly attracted to rodents, which do not include cats.

Now that you know your cat is safe from hawks, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the steps on how to protect them and answers to a few questions from clearing any doubts on the matter:

Protecting Your Cat from Hawks

You can take several steps to protect your cat from hawks and other bird attacks. One of the safest things you can do is keep your cat indoors at all times. This way, they will remain in your sight. Moreover, train them to pee and poop in the litter box to limit outdoor visits.

Here are a few more tips on how to protect your cat from hawks:

Supervise Your Cat: When going out, keep your cat on a leash so that it is close to you. A hawk will most probably not attack your cat if there’s a large presence nearby. Even when going to a playground for cats, stay close to provide safety from predators and feral cats.

Keep Your Cat Contained: If your cat loves going outdoor, build a jungle gym for it. Make sure the structure does not have openings, and the cat can’t get out independently. For additional security, give the structure a roof, providing shade and hiding your pet from hawks.

Provide Cover: If you do not have a covered playground in the backyard for your cat, make sure to supervise your cat’s outdoor visit and keep it under a shaded area such as shrubs or trees. A hawk won’t be able to execute its plan effectively due to the dense cover.

Exercise Pets Together: If you have both a cat and dog as pets, exercise them together. An adult dog is much larger than a cat, and in its presence, a hawk is less likely to attack anyone.

Avoid Feeding Birds in Your Backyard: If you are throwing bird seeds in your backyard on the ground, we suggest you stop doing this immediately. The throwing action will get your cat excited, causing it to pounce on the birds. As a result, it will become a target of hawks.

All You Need to Know About Hawks Seeing Cats as Food

We can attribute the myth about hungry hawks in today’s culture to the panic-inducing belief that this nature’s surrogate will swoop down into our suburban space and grab our domesticated housemates for snacks. To believe this is laughable. Still, it does have a tiny amount of truth to it.

Hawks are birds of prey, and when they are hungry, all they look for is meat. An unsuspecting cat rolling in the backyard with a ball of yarn seems quite appealing to a hungry hawk. However, the chances of a hawk picking up this pet are low. Why? Because the cat’s weight and size deter them from taking action! A hawk will fight for its snack. Based on their feeding habits, they are the most intelligent birds in the world. So, when a hawk sees that it can’t win a fight, it looks for food somewhere else.

The following questions will answer any remaining doubts you have about hawks eating cats:

What Do Hawks Eat?

Experts classify hawks as raptors, which are carnivores. Their choice of food is meat and sometimes insects too, which is why many people call them insectivorous as well. The most common animals that hawks devour include:

  • Rats, voles, mice, and other rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Small birds
  • Squirrels
  • Waterfowl, such as chickens and ducks
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Snakes

Can a Hawk Eat a Cat of Any Size?

If your cat weighs less than 5 pounds, don’t let it out of your sight when it is playing outside. The chances of a hawk attacking your cat will be less if you are nearby. So, avoid sitting under a tree or an umbrella. A hawk might be able to lift a heavy cat. However, it won’t be able to carry it off. Still, this will be dangerous for your cat as the flight might injure it.

How Do I Prevent a Hawk from Attacking My Cat?

If you have bird feeders in your backyard, move them to a secure location where your cat can’t see or reach them. Usually, cats congregate around bird feeders, which leaves them exposed to the likes of hawks. Hawks also have predators, including snakes, owls, crows, and eagles. You can place fake figurines of these animals in your backyard to deter hawks from even hovering above.

Can a Hawk Pick Up Any Size Animal?

Hawks usually pick up animals that range between 4 and 5 pounds. Any animal heavier than this will slip through a hawk’s talons. A large hawk such as the ferruginous hawk can carry up to 12 pounds. This breed usually belongs to North America in woodland edges. They can eat your average pet cat and dog.

Can a Hawk Attack an Adult Cat?

A large adult cat is a little more than 10 inches tall and 20 inches in length (minus the tail). Typically, it will weigh around 10 to 12 pounds. As mentioned throughout this blog, hawks don’t generally go after cats. When the prey is larger than them, they know they don’t stand a chance. However, if they are hungry, they will try capturing one if the opportunity presents.


The best thing you can do as a cat owner to safeguard your pet against hawk attacks is never to leave it unattended. Even when your furball is out in the backyard doing its business, make sure to keep an eye on it.

When taking your cat out, do so in a cage or a cat bag. Follow the tips mentioned above, and you will have no trouble keeping your cat by your side, unharmed.