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Can Magpies Kill a Cat?

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This question might appear unusual at first glance since magpies mainly feed on invertebrates and plants.

But when you get to know how defensive and aggressive magpies can be, you can imagine why pet owners might worry about the safety of their animals.

Can magpies kill a cat?

Magpies do not kill cats, but they will attack them. During breeding season Magpies attack anything they perceive as a threat including cats.

Eurasian magpie bird

There is no evidence showing that magpies kill (or intend to kill) cats. Nonetheless, these birds will attack small pets, including cats and dogs.

Magpies sometimes attack humans, too. These birds will try to defend themselves by swooping when they are disturbed or threatened.

Can Magpies Kill a Cat?

Magpies will swoop down at a cat that appears to threaten them. But other than trying to scare off a potential predator, there is not much evidence that these birds can kill cats.

It is more likely for a cat to kill a magpie than for a magpie to cause harm to a cat. There are a few isolated reports of owners claiming that magpies have hurt their animals.

In one case, a cat died a few days after it killed a magpie. The cat’s owners were suspicious that their pet may have been killed by vengeful magpies, but there was little evidence to validate their suspicion.

In another case, a magpie was reported to have killed 2 bunnies. This case might be a testament to the possible viciousness of magpies.

Magpies are omnivores and feed on invertebrates and plant matter. For a bird that is likely not used to killing relatively larger animals, slaying a cat would be very unlikely for them.

cat on the street next to him magpie

Can Magpies Hurt Cats?

Magpies can hurt cats, but this is quite uncommon. For most parts of the year, magpies are unlikely to inflict any harm on anything in general.

However, when nesting season comes, magpies can become more aggressive. Nesting season varies for different magpie species but typically spans around 6-8 weeks.

Being very protective of their offspring, magpies become territorial and defensive during their nesting season. During this period, they can hurt cats and other animals.

A magpie will attack and hurt a cat when it perceives any threat. They usually swoop down, peck at its head, slap it, or pull out some fur.

One interesting fact about magpies is that they can recognize faces. Once they identify a specific cat as a threat, they may keep attacking it subsequent times.

Why Do Magpies Attack Cats?

Magpies attack cats for many reasons. All it takes for a cat to pose an initial threat.

  • A magpie might attack a cat if the cat gets close to the magpie’s nest or nestling.
  • A magpie may also attack a cat if that cat had attacked it in the past.
  • If you place your cat’s food outside, the food may attract magpies. When this happens, the magpie may try to bully your cat and steal its food.
  • If your cat stalks a magpie, the magpie might react by attacking the cat.
cat outside the house

How to Stop Magpies From Attacking Your Cat

While not likely to kill your pet, magpie attacks can be disruptive and bothersome to you and your cat.

If magpies keep coming after your cat, how can you stop the attacks?

  • Keep your cat close or keep it on a leash whenever you are outdoors. This way, it will not attack or stalk any magpies. If your cat does not stalk or go after a magpie, it most likely will not be attacked.
  • Consider putting a collar with a bell on your cat. The sound could alert the magpies of the cat’s presence and keep them away.
  • Look into the areas with a high incidence of magpie swooping. Then keep your cats away from those areas.
  • Keep your cat’s food out of your yard. This way, you will not attract magpies to your lawn.
  • Play the sound of a rook or crow making a distress call. This can keep magpies at bay, but be sure to consider your neighbors when playing sound outside.
  • Hang CDs or other reflective items in trees. Magpies dislike the reflection of light off surfaces.
  • Install bird netting to keep magpies out of your yard.
Domestic red Maine Coon kitten hunted a nestling of magpie


While magpies sometimes attack cats and hurt them, it is unlikely that they can kill cats. But the reverse can happen; cats kill magpies.

For most parts of the year, magpies are relatively non-threatening. But when nesting season comes, these birds become defensive in order to protect their nestlings.