Our pets are beloved members of our family, and a serious commitment and responsibility for those who keep them. Pets and wildlife are safer when precautions are taken such as keeping small pets like cats indoors full time, feeding pets indoors and securing feed and trash, and being situationally aware when walking dogs.
Outdoor cats are not only at risk from predators, domestic animals, and diseases, but also severely threaten wildlife. The best place for cats is indoors, in a house or enclosed barn. Outdoor cats are at risk of predation, parasites, disease, vehicle strikes, and other hazards, as well as the severe damage they cause to the natural environment. If your cat does go out, always bring them indoors from dusk to dawn. Mountain lions do sometimes prey on domestic cats, and while a mountain lion can be present at any time, they are most active at dusk and dawn. Consider a fully enclosed “catio” for daytime outdoor access.
While large dogs may deter mountain lions and other wildlife from coming near your property, small dogs are at risk pf predation and in the unfortunate circumstance where a large dog does directly confront a native carnivore, they can be injured or killed. Dogs should be kept inside overnight and accompanied outside on a leash for any late night or early morning bathroom outings. If you’re walking a dog at night or in the early morning, turn on outdoor lights, and/or use a flashlight. Some pet owners are using light-up collars or clip-on collar lights, which may be effective for keeping track of your pet and deterring predators. Carrying a small, inexpensive air horn can be very effective at scaring away any wildlife or feral dogs you may encounter walking your dog at night or in the early morning. NEVER let your dog chase wildlife like deer, and obey all leash laws on hiking trails. Mountain lions are cautious animals and it’s perfectly possible to safely keep dogs in mountain lion territory, but situational awareness is important to protect wildlife and pet dogs.
Native animals should not rely on scavenging from humans to survive. Scavenging small animals like raccoons, possums, skunks and deer may attract predators who would naturally hunt them. The best thing we can do to be good neighbors to wildlife is to limit their proximity to humans and not interfere with them in their habitat. Keeping compost and garbage secure, keeping pet and livestock feed cleaned up, and limiting brush directly around your home helps establish these boundaries. Deer are the main prey of mountain lions, so do not feed deer in your yard, and do not encourage them to hang out close to your home. If you have a lot of deer in your area, and happen to glimpse a mountain lion, it is not an emergency, it just means that you live in a functioning ecosystem. It also makes you very lucky- many who spend most of their time in the field have still never seen these elusive cats!