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Great Horned Owl threat to big house cats?

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Old Wednesday 10th January 2018, 02:03   #1
crazyfingers
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Great Horned Owl threat to big house cats?

My cats have a cat flap door that lets them into an enclosed area behind my house. They can't get out and ground based predictors, coyotes, fox, etc.. can't get in.

Last night for the first time ever I saw what I believe to be, because of it's huge size, a great horned owl perched in a tree above the cat's enclosed area. I guess it could also have been a snowy owl but I hear the great horned owl in the woods sometimes. Because it was night, I could only see it silhouetted against the sky but it was large. It flew off after a minute.

That evening I locked that cat's flap door to keep them in.

These cats of mine are big. One is 18 pounds and the other is 24 pounds.

How big a threat is a great horned owl to my cats?

Last edited by crazyfingers : Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 02:36.
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Old Wednesday 10th January 2018, 02:31   #2
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Very little to cats that size, I would say, considering that the owls top out at well under 4 lbs.
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 09:58   #3
TobyC
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I think cats of that size are more a threat to the owl especially if they fell on them
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 13:59   #4
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It's not that I'm worried that the owl would carry my cats off but would it try to swoop down and severely injure a cat and try to eat it in place? I understand that it could attack from behind.
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 14:55   #5
Maroon Jay
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A friend of mine had his cat taken by a GHO although they were not as big as yours. He let the cat out the front door and watched as it walked down the driveway. A GHO swooped down and took flew off with it. Not sure of the size of the cat.
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 15:13   #6
fugl
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A friend of mine had his cat taken by a GHO although they were not as big as yours. He let the cat out the front door and watched as it walked down the driveway. A GHO swooped down and took flew off with it. Not sure of the size of the cat.
If the “owl flew off with it”, the cat would have been very small indeed.
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 15:20   #7
fugl
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It's not that I'm worried that the owl would carry my cats off but would it try to swoop down and severely injure a cat and try to eat it in place? I understand that it could attack from behind.
Unlikely, I would say. There would be too much chance that an attack on cats that size would lead to the injury (or death) of the owl and few predators would risk that.
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Old Thursday 11th January 2018, 22:56   #8
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Great Horned Owls are one of the most ferocious predators and will attack and eat almost anything. There are records of them killing birds as large as Ospreys and Barred Owls, and in the northern part of their range they routinely kill and eat adult porcupines, which range from ten to twenty pounds. (Occasionally they do die from ingesting porcupine quills.) Of course, they wouldn’t be able to carry off large prey, but they kill it and eat their fill on the spot. So I don’t think a Great Horned Owl would hesitate to attack a large cat.

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Old Friday 12th January 2018, 02:30   #9
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Great Horned Owls are one of the most ferocious predators and will attack and eat almost anything. There are records of them killing birds as large as Ospreys and Barred Owls, and in the northern part of their range they routinely kill and eat adult porcupines, which range from ten to twenty pounds. (Occasionally they do die from ingesting porcupine quills.) Of course, they wouldn’t be able to carry off large prey, but they kill it and eat their fill on the spot. So I don’t think a Great Horned Owl would hesitate to attack a large cat.
Great Horned Owls don’t stun their prey with great force before going in for the kill like some falcons do, but drop down on it from no considerable height and squeeze it to death in their powerful talons. For a 3.5 lb owl to try this with a healthy 16 lb cat capable of fighting back with claws and fangs would be hazardous in the extreme, maybe even suicidal. Owls, like other active predators, simply cannot afford to risk serious injury affecting their continuing ability to successfully hunt by attacking such dangerous prey.
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Old Friday 12th January 2018, 08:03   #10
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Great Horned Owls don’t stun their prey with great force before going in for the kill like some falcons do, but drop down on it from no considerable height and squeeze it to death in their powerful talons. For a 3.5 lb owl to try this with a healthy 16 lb cat capable of fighting back with claws and fangs would be hazardous in the extreme, maybe even suicidal. Owls, like other active predators, simply cannot afford to risk serious injury affecting their continuing ability to successfully hunt by attacking such dangerous prey.
Eurasian Eagle Owl, larger I know but closely related, have been known to predate domestic cats and dogs...and foxes quite often.

https://idus.us.es/xmlui/bitstream/h...pdf?sequence=1

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Old Sunday 14th January 2018, 18:50   #11
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Well down my road between the house next door and the next there appears to be a great horned owl dead on the side of the road. About 17 inches from top of head to tips of the talons. If it's the one I saw it would likely have happened during our extreme cold spell I expect.

May post a photo later. Don't know how territorial they are in winter, whether another one was likely around too. Will see what I can research on that.

ETA. I've read they are very teritorial but not necessarily so much in winter. If it had a mate I guess the mate could still be around or it could have headed off in search of a new one. I guess these owls lay eggs early so not much time to find a new mate before nestimg time.

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Old Monday 15th January 2018, 01:23   #12
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Sadly here is the bird.
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Old Monday 15th January 2018, 02:12   #13
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Hit by a car maybe? If it was getting enough to eat, it should have been able to survive even very cold weather.
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Old Monday 15th January 2018, 02:55   #14
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No idea. There is about 150 acres of wooded conservation land in back of my property. Lots of gray squirrels. It could also have just died of old age though right by the road seems unlikey. Picking up some roadkill at the wrong time? But my road is not busy. Often more than 20 minutes between cars. Will likely never know.

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Old Monday 15th January 2018, 08:32   #15
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Owls have very high road casualty rates - they get blinded by the headlights and can't see the vehicle to avoid it.
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