This post is dedicated to the loving memory of a dear friend's pet who brought so much joy and companionship to her family's life. Though their time together was cut short, the memories and love shared will last forever. May your beloved pet rest in peace, always remembered and cherished.
Losing a beloved pet is a heart-wrenching experience, especially if it could have been prevented. One of the biggest threats to dogs on the Oregon coast are big cats, specifically cougars and bobcats. In this blog post, we'll provide tips and information to help you protect your dog from these predators. Consider these ultra extra-safe tips as food for thought. It's too stressful to worry but this in-depth research will familiarize you with some strategies used to protect pets in this region.
Types of Big Cats on the Oregon Coast
Cougars (Mountain Lions)
- Weigh up to 180 pounds
- Have a tan coat, a long tail, and are typically solitary creatures.
- Active at dawn, dusk, and night
- Ambush predators, meaning they stalk their prey and then pounce on them
- Can jump up to 20 feet in a single leap
- Excellent climbers and can easily scale trees
- Weigh up to 40 pounds
- Have a reddish-brown coat with black spots, a short tail, and are typically solitary creatures
- Active during the day and night
- Stalk their prey, but also rely on stealth to avoid detection
Tips to Protect Your Dog From the Wild Cats of the Oregon Coast
- Keep your dog on a leash: Dogs are more vulnerable to attacks when they are off-leash and running around. Keeping your dog on a leash can help you keep control of them and prevent them from wandering too far away from you.
- Watch closely when walking your dog during dawn, dusk, and night: This is when big cats are most active, so it's best to avoid walking your dog during these times. Daytime walks will reduce the odds of an encounter.
- Make a lot of noise: Big cats are ambush predators, so making noise can help deter them from attacking. You can talk, sing, or clap your hands to create noise and alert the cats to your presence. One of my friends would carry a big stick and bang it on everything we passed as the sun was setting, and we weren't yet done with our walk. Consider carrying a bell or other noise-making device with you.
- Carry bear spray: If you do happen to be out early, or a bit too late, carrying bear spray can be helpful in repelling big cats in a pinch. If you are walking in an area where big cats are known to be active, consider carrying bear spray with you at all times. My own two encounters with a big cat were in the middle of the day. The pattern I noticed is they emerge from within shadowed areas, so it's a good idea to always carry some.
- Install fencing and lights around your property: If you live in an area with a high concentration of big cats, consider installing a fence around your property or adding motion-activated lights. Motion sensor lights can help deter big cats from entering your yard or property at night. Install them around your house and backyard. Just make sure the fence is at least 6 feet tall and extends underground to prevent them from digging underneath. Mesh fencing is also recommended as it can prevent them from climbing over the fence.
- Be mindful of peak activity times: Cougars are most active at dawn, dusk, and night, while bobcats are active during the day and night.
- Stay aware: Keep an eye out for signs of big cat activity, such as tracks, scat, or scratches on trees. Keep your eyes and ears open for any signs such as rustling in the bushes or growling sounds.
- Remember, there's safety in groups: Walking in a group can help deter big cats from attacking. You can make noise and stay close together.
- Install an alarm system: An alarm system can alert you to any potential intruders, including big cats. Consider installing one in your home.
- Supervision matters near the woods: It's important to supervise your dog when they are outside, especially at night. Big cats are less likely to attack when there are humans present.
- Design a special dog shelter: If you can't bring your dog inside in the evening, consider the value of providing your dog with a shelter in your backyard and a safe indoor space at night. An entire enclosed area or a doghouse with a secure door can help.
- Avoid leaving pet food or water outside: This can attract big cats to your yard. Make sure to bring in any pet food or water bowls at night. This is a big one because it's so easy to forget that your furry friend won't be the only one interested in pet food.
- Avoid attracting wildlife: Secure your garbage cans. Food scraps can attract prey, which in turn can attract big cats to your backyard.
- Don't underestimate the potential that big cats are in your neighborhood just because there have not been any reported sightings. It's always best to be safer than sorry, on the rugged Oregon Coast.
- The highest cougar densities in Oregon occur in the Coast Range and Cascade Mountains. Dog owners in these areas should take every precaution possible.
- In 52% of recorded cougar attacks on humans in Oregon, dogs were present. This highlights the importance of taking precautions to protect your dog when walking in areas where cougars are known to be present.
- Some 81% of attacks where the victim fought back with a firearm or other weapon resulted in a cougar being killed. This information could be useful for dog owners to be aware of the potential effectiveness of using a weapon to defend themselves and their pet in the event of an attack.
By following these tips, you can help protect your dog from big cats. Remember to always be vigilant and keep your dog's safety in mind when walking in areas where big cats are known to be present. With these precautions in place, you can enjoy the beautiful Oregon coast with your furry friend while keeping them safe from harm.
Please note that while we (AI and Christi Studio) have made every effort to provide accurate and up-to-date information, this post is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to pet safety on the Oregon coast. The tips and advice provided are based on research and personal experience, but there may be additional measures you can take to keep your pet safe. We encourage you to consult with local authorities for more information on how to protect your pet from wildlife on the Wild Coast.