Badly injured cats have come into Dr. Gary Spence's Tyler office over the past few weeks. He says he's seen a two-fold increase in those who have been attacked by coyotes surgery has saved a few, but not many.
Three he's treating now have come from Flint and Gresham, and one from the heart of Tyler, near Fifth and Beckham.
"Kelly was caught by coyotes. She was going to be dinner for one of them," describes Dr. Gary Spence.
Kelly is purring and up and moving, two days after major surgery. She had a perforated intestine, a punctured liver, and a dislocated right rear hip. Dr. Spence says she actually lucked out.
"Most of them don't make it. They're too far gone. They come in and we do euthanasia on them."
Another cat fights for every breath in intensive care.
"She had a perforated diaphragm, and a hole in her liver. Also, she had a penetrating abdominal wound," Spence says.
With more construction eliminating habitat, all kinds of animals are spreading to new areas, Spence says.
"You go in and clear cut and you clear the land and the habitat for the mice is gone, and that's their primary food source," he says.
Even at Teresia Maddox's home in Tyler her cat wasn't safe.
"He had been missing for about three days. He was so weak that we couldn't even get up the step in the house," says Maddox of her cat, Jake.
Tuesday, Jake waited for infection to subside.
"He's got a lot of superficial wounds, but he has a lot of crushing injuries," Spence said, of the cat who was in so much pain he couldn't recline. He'll need surgery, and Spence thinks coyotes are bound to attack more.
"It's springtime. They're hungry and they're trying to feed their litters. They're coming into town and getting small cats and small dogs."
Spence's advice: it might be time to bring your pets inside for a while.
"Get a litter box. They work wonders."
Spence says that's especially important if they roam in the evening or late at night.
Smith County Animal Control says they haven't seen a significant increase in reports of coyotes in the city, but that it's not unusual to see coyotes coming into urban areas. They have a wide range, and coyotes have learned that cats and small dogs can become easy prey.