Coyotes have been spotted in the College Park area of Orlando, and the roaming animals have killed several cats in the area.
Residents on Sunday posted fliers warning others to be careful after dark and not to leave pets outside overnight.
Harriet Duncan said her 11-year-old cat Marrakesh was killed by a coyote last week.
“I've been so busy trying to get the word out so I don't cry,” Duncan said. “He was the nicest cat. I got him at the shelter. He jumped up on the shelter bench next to me and put his paw out on my leg and purred, so he claimed me.”
And after nine years together at her College Park home, she said he was killed after she let him out one night and a neighbor later told her what happened.
“She told me two coyotes were on my cat and a guy was chasing them afterwards on the street because they were trying to retrieve the body," Duncan said.
After going online, Duncan soon learned she wasn't alone. She talked to many others whose pets had been killed by coyotes weeks earlier.
Jade Apisukh said he helped bury his neighbor's cat, Spike, after he was killed.
“It was basically eviscerated, all the organs were removed,” said Apisukh. “It was pretty gruesome.”
Another woman, Kay McNeill, says her 17-year-old cat named Lucy was killed in the same area a month ago.
“She [a neighbor] found her laying in the yard and it was pretty nasty,” says McNeill. “I chose to believe she never knew what hit her.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife say while they receive up to a dozen calls daily on coyote sightings in Orange County, so far this year they've only received seven incident reports of coyote attacks. Out of those seven, only one is from College Park.
Duncan says she called FWC and they told her they would send her a brochure on coyotes.
“If I'd had known, my cat wouldn't have been outside,” said Duncan. “I just don't want any other cats and dogs dying.”
FWC spokesman Greg Workman says coyotes are natural predators that adapt easily and tend to be active during sunset and sunrise. He says the best way to prevent an animal attack is to keep your pets inside.