This summer's reports of deceased cats were unsettling to the OHS and the community. The Ottawa Police Service conducted an investigation into the deceased cats and found that the cause of death was a wild animal, likely a coyote. Despite this conclusion, persistent theories have abounded that the killer was human.
In the face of compelling evidence, the OHS believes that the perpetrator was a coyote or coyotes. Here is the case:
1. A veterinary pathologist from Guelph University concluded so.
The Ottawa Police Service had a necropsy performed at the Kemptville campus of Guelph University. The veterinary pathologist performing the analysis concluded that the one cat had died as a result of a predator attack — most likely a coyote — and that the state of the other bodies were consistent with the same conclusion.
2. A Canadian research study concluded coyotes were responsible for cat deaths in very similar circumstances in Alberta.
A recent Canadian study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pathology mirrored the situation in Ottawa. In strikingly similar circumstances in Edmonton and St. Albert, the study found that:
"Among 53 carcasses examined in this study, a majority (68%) could be directly attributed to coyote predation as a cause of death. An additional 15% appeared to be scavenged by coyotes after either being hit by a car or suffering some other trauma. The remaining 17% included pet burials and partial carcasses that had insufficient tissue remaining to determine cause of death. In no case was there any clear evidence of nonaccidental injury by humans... Thus, we conclude that coyote predation and scavenging were responsible for most, if not all, of the cases of dismembered cat remains discovered."
The study went on to say:
"Cat remains from these events are often brought to the attention of local veterinarians, who may have difficulty diagnosing the cause of death, and to animal control officers and/or police, who need to determine whether or not a crime occurred. In these situations, laymen often describe injuries to cats with phrases like "scalpel-like cuts" and "laser edges." Once in the media, reports proliferate with ensuing speculation about possible human involvement in mutilating cats."
3. Cat deaths are very common in the Ottawa region.
This summer's spate of cat killings may seem unusual, when in fact, it's not. The Ottawa Valley Lost Pet Network have had 690 cats found dead reported to them since January 2019. In the same period, 92 bodies have been brought to the OHS. Between the two, that's almost one every day, and that surely doesn't represent all the cats killed in the region.
4. Coyotes have become common in urban settings, including Ottawa.
Coyotes are frequently found in urban settings. In June 2020, there were coyote attacks on humans in Riverside South.
5. The notes came late to the puzzle.
The news of the deceased cats was covered widely in the media by June 15, and the notes were not discovered until June 19. It is likely the notes were a bi-product of someone playing a terrible joke for the shock value.
As well, in a letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen, a Barrhaven resident provided a recent, first-hand account of a coyote preying on a cat.
At the end of the day, the cats in Ottawa suffered horrendous deaths, and the solution is the same: cats should be kept safely indoors.