House Cat and Bald Eagle Standoff in Backyard Showdown

Written by Marisa Wilson
Updated: October 22, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The domestic cat is one of the most successful predatory species in the animal kingdom – responsible for wiping out at least 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles in the wild.
  • Cats without supplementary food from an owner can take down as many as 10 to 20 kills a day.
  • Bald eagles aren’t usually prey for domestic cats – but the one in the video decides to go for it even though her chances of success are low.

When you think eagle vs. cat, you probably picture a cat lying in the yard and a giant bird swoops him away like you see in cartoons. Is this cat innocent and minding its own business? We will get into what happens in this video – but first – let’s consider the domestic cat’s hunting instincts.

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Cats Are Born to Hunt

Even the most pampered kitty will stalk toys, her dog or cat companions, your sock feet, or the occasional bug. Have you ever wondered why they pretend to hunt – even if their food and water bowls are full and treats are always at hand? They can’t help it – they were born that way.

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The domestic cat is one of the most successful predatory species in the animal kingdom – responsible for wiping out at least 63 species. Until fairly recently, cats were kept as pets solely for their pest control abilities and had to earn their keep. Only the best mousers and hunters were able to survive and reproduce – so all domestic cats of today are ancestors of the best hunters.

Egyptian Mau cat stalking a prey

After they stalk prey – cats will stop for an instant to calculate the energy and distance required for the pounce.

© Leirikh

Cats need to eat meat to survive and to be healthy – and when you consider that small prey like mice and birds are just about all they can handle due to their small size – a cat would have to successfully hunt several mice in a day to meet their protein requirements. Cats without supplementary food from an owner can take down as many as 10 to 20 kills a day. That’s a lot of mice and a lot of adept hunting!

Pet cats are descended from the big wild cats and hunt in exactly the same way. First, they approach prey by stalking it in a crouched position – head outstretched. As the cat gets closer it will stop and prepare to spring forward – calculating the energy it needs for the pounce. Then, it will spring forward to strike with its front paws.

Video Cat Decides to Try Its “Paw” at a Bald Eagle

Prehistoric Pets cat hunting

One of the first uses of cats was to keep the mouse and rat populations in check.


A cat is in a chair in a beautiful yard full of green grass and scattered leaves. The cat is enjoying some outside time and grooming itself. Nothing at all out of the ordinary. Slowly a bald eagle is waltzing through the yard. From behind, the bird looks like a penguin waddling, and the eagle is not close to the cat as it makes its grand entrance.

The camera angles turn and show the face of the bird — let’s call him Tom. Tom’s expression seems angry as he yells. Tom stares for a while, turning his head in all directions without moving his body an inch. As he continues looking, the cat becomes aware of Tom.

Like most cats, this one sees Tom and begins to inquire just what this bird is doing in its yard. As the cat approaches, it soon begins to go into hunt mode. The size comparison makes the eagle an unlikely target for this cat’s prey drive. The cat appears to be around two feet away from Tom, and Tom hasn’t moved an inch.

The cat’s tail remains low, and just the tip is twitching back and forth. Tom starts to acknowledge the cat more and looks like he’s inspecting it, much like you would a car before you buy it. The eagle now walks to the cat’s right, and they almost make contact with each other.

bald eagle hunting salmon

Bald eagles usually have better things to do besides hopping around in a cat’s backyard!

©Tony Campbell/

Tom opens his wings wide, and the cat strikes with its paws. The eagle stays in the place it closed its wings, and since the fight hadn’t officially started, the catwalks beneath the chair it was previously grooming itself on. The cat imminently tests the waters by walking in front of Tom again. There are several periods where neither of them moves at all.

When the cat moves, it seems like it wants to sneak up on the eagle, but it can’t be fooled so easily. The cat then attempts to charge at the eagle but quickly changes its mind when Tom opens his wings and flutters them violently. The cat quickly seeks shelter under a staircase, but the eagle doesn’t follow.

While the cat stays hidden, the eagle inspects the property. Maybe Tom is a real estate kinda bird that needs to find a good place to nap. Since the eagle has proved to be a worthy opponent to the cat, he stays long enough to ensure the cat knows Tom is the winner of this altercation.

Once the eagle gets tired of looking around the beautiful yard, you see the camera angles change. The eagle made a subtle entrance, but the exit was majestic! You’ll see just how amazing it is when you watch this video!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © PHOTOOBJECT/

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

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