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Cats and foxes may come across each other from time to time, but do foxes attack and eat cats and how can you keep your cat safe from foxes?

As cats roam around their local area, they may encounter other animals, including foxes. If you’ve seen foxes in your neighbourhood or heard them screeching for a mate at night, you may be concerned about them chasing and harming your cat. The good news is, the risk of foxes attacking cats is very low, and there are some simple things you can do to help keep your cat safe from foxes. 

a fox standing on grass and looking at the camera

Do foxes attack cats?

While foxes do catch and eat small mammals such as rabbits and rats, it is very rare for them to attack cats. Cats are not the natural prey of foxes, and so cats and foxes will usually ignore or avoid each other if they meet outdoors, or the cat will chase the fox away from their territory or food. Foxes tend to be more nervous of cats than cats are of foxes! 

Usually conflict will only occur if, for some reason, cats and foxes encounter each other and there is no easy way for one of them to escape (for example, they become trapped in a corner). In this instance, the fox may attack the cat or the cat may attack the fox in self-defence. 

Cats are much more likely to be injured by other cats, dogs, humans or road traffic accidents than they are by foxes. A research project run by the Royal Veterinary College found that only five out of 10,000 cats paying a visit to the vet had had an altercation with a fox, compared to 541 out of 10,000 cats displaying injuries consistent with that from a fight with another cat. Find out more about how to stop cats fighting. 

In rare cases where a fox has been found to have eaten a cat, it’s usually the case that the cat was already dead when the fox found them, as foxes are scavengers more than hunters.

Can cats catch diseases from foxes?

A fox standing on grass facing the camera

If cats and foxes do get into a fight, there are only a small number of diseases that can be passed from foxes to cats. Cats are far more at risk of diseases caught from other cats, many of which can be prevented by vaccination and neutering. 

If you know or suspect your cat has been attacked by a fox or any other animal, take them to the vet to get them checked out for any signs of injury or disease. 

If you are worried about your cat (or yourself) catching rabies from a fox, you will be interested to know that the UK is currently one of only a few countries without rabies. Animal movement restrictions, including travel documentation and quarantine schemes, are aimed at keeping the UK a rabies-free country.

How to keep your cat safe from foxes

If you’re concerned about your cat coming into conflict with foxes, there are some simple steps you can take to help keep them safe. 

A long-haired ginger cat sitting on grass. The photo is taken through the gap in a wooden ladder which is blurred in the foreground

  1. Create a cat-friendly garden. To encourage your cat to stay closer to home and reduce the risk of them encountering a fox, make your garden the perfect space for your cat to hang out in. Follow our tips for creating a cat-friendly garden. 
  2. Keep your cat indoors at night. Like cats, foxes are also crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. To reduce the risk of your cat encountering a fox, keep them indoors when it is dark outdoors. 
  3. Keep kittens indoors. Young kittens are more at risk from foxes than adult cats are, so kittens should be kept indoors until they have been vaccinated, neutered and microchipped, and not left outside unsupervised until they are over six months old. Find out more about caring for kittens. 
  4. Don’t leave food outside. Foxes are scavengers and so will be attracted to any food left outdoors. If you are feeding birds or other wildlife in your garden, make sure the food is out of reach of foxes. Also promptly clear away any fallen fruit from trees, and protect your fruit and vegetable crops with solid wire mesh, as they may attract hungry foxes. 
  5. Feed your cat somewhere safe. To avoid a fox trying to steal your cat’s food, which could lead to a fight, only feed your cat somewhere foxes can’t access. Using a microchip cat flap is a great way of creating a space only your cat can get to. Get a discount on microchip cat flaps from Sure Petcare.
  6. Ensure bin lids are secure. Foxes often scavenge through bins to find food, so make sure your outdoor bins are securely sealed and don’t leave rubbish bags anywhere that foxes can find them and tear into them.
  7. Use a plant-based fertiliser. Some garden fertilisers contain meat, fish, blood or bone products which could attract foxes to dig in search of food. Use a plant-based alternative in your garden instead.  
  8. Remove potential fox shelters. Clear away long grass, weeds or overgrown plants in your garden where foxes might find shelter. Also keep any sheds, garages or outbuilding closed and block up areas under sheds or decking, as foxes might use these as dens. 
  9. Get your cat neutered. Neutered cats are much less likely to roam away from home and get into fights with other animals, so if your cat isn’t already neutered, book them in for the procedure at the vets. Find out more about neutering.

Find more advice about foxes from the RSPCA, and find out more about keeping cats safe outside on our website.

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