Coyote Anger: Cat-like Growls or Screams

When coyotes communicate, there’s little room for misinterpretation. You already saw this in my last posting about “coyote insistence” through body language. If they are insistent towards humans and our dogs, you can be sure they are just as insistent towards each other. This short video clip, above, shows this. It was taken after a family howl session in response to a siren. The howling and yiping in response to the siren were sing-songy and upbeat as you can hear here:

The family howling then segues into the evening rendezvous, where the entire family excitedly meets and greets for the evening trekk and other family activities. But Mom is not so keen on having all that high-energy wiggly and excited youngster activity around her. Her vocalizations at this point, as seen in the above video, are of the “raspy” type I discuss in my posting on Coyote Voicings. These are anger, annoyed, and warning vocalizations directed at family members. She’s telling the rambunctious youngsters that she wants space and calm: “get away from me”. She also displays her frustration by complaining with a wide vocalized gape to Dad who happens to be standing beside her. These are sounds you may not have heard from a coyote: they are very cat-like — the kind of sounds a cat would make before swiping at something with its claws.

Remember that coyotes also “pounce” for prey in a very cat-like manner, they toy with their prey as cats do, they splay their toes as cats do, and they “warn” with that very familiar “Halloween Cat” stance which includes a hairpin arched back and often a gape and hiss. I have been asked if coyotes are cats or dogs: I can see why such a question might be asked. Of course, coyotes are neither: they are simply themselves. However, they can reproduce with dogs and have many dog-like qualities, but they also have several very cat-like behaviors which dogs don’t have.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo Thompson
    Dec 16, 2019 @ 18:07:50

    Fantastic and very informative. Thank you!


  2. Hilary Cole
    Dec 17, 2019 @ 10:06:12

    Hi Janet

    Loved the video .., thanks 😊

    Very informative, especially the comparison between them and cats, pouncing on prey etc…. You can’t blame mum fir getting a bit fed up can you! Give me a little space oks, still love you but back off .. ha!! 😃

    Thanks again Janet
    Hilary 😍


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 17, 2019 @ 12:01:31


    • Hilary Cole
      Dec 19, 2019 @ 04:47:30

      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year Janet …

      Thanks for your lovely posts 💖

      Hilary 🥰😻🥂

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 19, 2019 @ 12:41:26

      Thank you, Hilary! So glad you enjoy the postings. Peace and Season’s Greetings to you, too! Janet

    • Hilary Cole
      Dec 21, 2019 @ 07:03:45

      Yes I love to read your posts … very interesting and informative … don’t always get to read them straight away, as so busy in work at present, but I always get there in the end… thanks!

      Have a great Christmas Season …

      Hilary 😊🎄🦋🥂 Cheers 😊

  3. Lisy Meyers
    Dec 24, 2019 @ 21:18:59

    Thanks for the information. Coyotes are beautiful, smart and they have an important place in the food chain.


  4. Gail
    Jan 04, 2020 @ 15:04:56

    This is great, Janet!
    I was wondering what would have happened if you’d have stood up and revealed yourself while filming this scenario?
    I’m sure you follow your own personal ethics in this regard, but wouldn’t it be educational to be able to show the naysayers how they’d scatter at the presence of ONE human? At least I’m assuming they would.
    What a way to show that even an entire family group is NOT a threat.
    I’m sure you have your methods and limits. Just thought I’d throw that out there. So much negative info to refute.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 04, 2020 @ 17:20:09

      Hi Gail,
      Actually I was in plain view to them, as were several other people, albeit at some distance. These are urban coyotes and they get used to seeing people. They continue their activities as usual unless people actually approach them. However, as you say, they are not a threat to humans and will flee at whatever “critical distance” they’ve decided is right for them — each one is different in this regard. Janet

  5. Claire Perry
    Jan 06, 2020 @ 16:10:29

    Such an amazing site ! <3


  6. Bob OBrien
    Aug 13, 2022 @ 06:38:50

    Hello Janet. Great website. We have lots of coyotes about. We live on a busy highway with lots of ‘sirens’ going by. When coyotes are around that sets up quite a hollering. But what about low, threatening growls? See my recent iNatualist submission.
    Latest update not submitted yet. My son a biologist came out an we dissected the scat. Lot of plum pits. Seems to rule out Cougar in favor of Coyote. Now the scat does not _have_ to be from the ‘growler’ but there can only be so much concidence My question, does my description of the ‘growl’ on iNaturalist allow for a coyote to be the ‘growler’? I’ve searched the internet and found lots of hits that say Coyote growling, but none of them really had true growls at a very low, threatening, pitch. Thanks for any info Bob OBrien Carver OR


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Aug 13, 2022 @ 12:27:08

      Hi Bob —
      Thanks for contacting me. Yes, coyotes growl as a warning: low pitched, threatening, usually several short, not very loud growls that I’ve heard. Possibly you were close to a food source or even a den site? You say there are lots of coyotes about: actually, in any one area you’ll only have one family. Family consists of the alpha pair usually, pups born this year, and maybe several yearlings born the year before. Coyote scat is full of fruit seeds and pits at this time of year. Hope this helps! Janet

  7. Bob OBrien
    Aug 13, 2022 @ 06:40:28

    PS on Cougar vs. Coyote. The fur turned out to be rabbit not deer.


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