Report from Ben Willis
I would have to agree, the fox is a very unlikely to have been responsible for the disappearance of any domestic cat. Since a dog is an unworthy opponent for a feline, the fox is even less. The only weaponry a fox possesses is a narrow weak muzzle which is designed to pluck small animals from the ground or reach inside burrows. The power of their bite is less than the common dog and not even comparable to any cat. When foxes are trapped in box-cages they generally are timid showing no aggression. The only threat that a fox might pose to any cat would be invading the dens of young kittens, in my opinion.
Much has been speculated about the possibility of cougars and bobcats killing domestic cats as prey items. I believed that to be unlikely after seeing tracks of my feral cats overlapping with bobcats in the same area. It appeared that the domestics made no effort to avoid the bobcats, and I found no evidence of any attacks. I did occasionally have a few cats vanish but I considered there should be some evidence such as lost fur or a carcass. Rabbit carcasses could be found strewn around the edges of woodlands but never a cat. Local veterinarians do warn cat owners to beware of bobcats, but after some enquiries, no veterinarian had ever treated a domestic cat suffering from the wounds of a bobcat. They do however quite frequently see dogs with significant bobcat damage. Since then, I posted a message to two separate e-mail lists asking for any subscribers who have witnessed a domestic cat being attacked by a wild feline, or found any remains they might attribute to a cougar or bobcat. That was over a year ago, and no one has replied as to any such experience.
I'm inclined to believe if any big cat perpetrates an attack upon a domestic, its very rare in the United States. In Africa, many attacks by leopards are said to be a common problem for domestic pets there.
It has been my experience that when domestic cats vanish, it can be attributed to a disgruntled neighbor, neighborhood dogs, or in some cases injuries sustained in cat fights. Injured and dying cats have an almost invariable habit of retreating to places where they are difficult to find.
Since no one knows what the mystery cat or cats of the U.K. might be, its difficult to speculate what the habits are. I do believe there are many other more plausible explanations for disappearing domestic cats. I would be very pleased to hear that they all have returned to their owners by now.
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