DEAR PAW’S CORNER: A number of cats in our area disappeared this spring and summer, and I noticed the rabbits that used to plague our garden don’t come as frequently. A neighbor told me he saw a coyote crossing the street just before dawn recently, and I suspect it is the cause of many of these disappearances. Please warn your readers they need to protect their pets as wild animals are encroaching on well-populated neighborhoods. — Pat C., Weston, Mass.
DEAR PAT: That’s a very good point! As wild creatures lose more and more of their natural habitats, they are being seen much more frequently in the suburbs and even in urban areas. This goes beyond nuisance animals like raccoons and skunks: Black bears frequently wander into back yards in central Florida, and residents in urban Allston, Mass., are sometimes confronted by wild turkeys foraging along city streets. And coyotes and cougars have been reported in suburban neighborhoods in many parts of the United States.
Wild animals present a lot of risk to pets (as well as humans). Besides the threat of contracting rabies or other diseases, some predators find smaller pets to be easy, tasty prey.
Keep cats and small dogs indoors at night. If wild animals have been reported in your area, don’t let your pet out unaccompanied or off a leash, even during the day when no danger is apparent. Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date.
If you have pets, like rabbits, that are kept outside, reinforce and strengthen protective fencing around their cages.