MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A number of cats in the Central Gardens area have been brutally attacked and killed in the past several days. Pet owners said a pack of wild dogs is on the loose, but animal experts said the attacks could be coyotes.
Last week, Jim Bailey interrupted a pack of wild dogs attacking a neighborhood cat outside his home in Central Gardens.
"We went over and looked at the cat and it was still alive, but just barely," Bailey said. "It lived for about five minutes and died."
Kim Williams' cat, Mean Kitty, was also attacked and killed this week. Williams said Mean Kitty's attacker looked like a coyote.
"They were just scrawny, hyena-looking ... scary things," Williams said.
A Bartlett resident photographed a coyote last month. Memphis Animal Control said the animals are more common in urban settings than people might think.
Central Gardens resident Leigh Martin said neighbors are on high alert.
"They've been trying to sent a lot of e-mails," Martin said. "Just to let people know if they have cats that they let out."
Animal Services Administrator Matthew Pepper said his division only deals with domestic animals that are a problem. Pepper said he will work with state wildlife officials to see if they can work together to address the problem.
Coyotes are nocturnal and opportunistic in search of food, shelter and water. Experts advised to not present them an opportunity to enter a house.
Whether the animals killing the cats are dogs or coyotes, the safety rules are the same. Do not leave pet food or water outside, keep your trash can tightly shut and do not leave animals outside alone at night.