One of the great challenges of owning different kinds of animals in your home or on your farm is the fact that they don’t always get along. That’s something we all intuitively know on some level (the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs” exists for a reason, after all), but just as we likely imagine the best of our children, we likewise do so for our pets.
Only “bad” kids misbehave in school – surely our kids could never do that?
Sure, cats are carnivores by nature, but our cat is cute and cuddly and would never go after chickens.
Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. Your cat may look innocent, but give them some time alone and they might well chase the chickens all around the yard.
But would they really kill them? What about other cats besides your own? What can you do about it?
Cats and Chickens
The answer to whether cats kill chickens is actually harder to answer than it may seem at first. That’s partly due to the fact that different kinds of cats can respond to chickens differently.
For example, tame house cats don’t usually kill chickens. They are intelligent animals and can tell that there are plenty of drawbacks to attacking them. Not only can your cat tell doing so will annoy you (with all the scolding and consequences that may carry), but they can also tell that adult chickens are reasonably big compared to their size and have sharp talons, both of which can make them harder prey than you might first imagine.
On the other hand, however, kittens are too young, inexperienced, and immature to make such a judgment. Instead, they see a potential meal and feel their instincts working on them. They might thus attack chickens, which could end up with both parties being seriously wounded.
On the flip side, if you are raising baby chicks, they’ll be even more vulnerable. Obviously, they won’t pose the same threat to chickens as their full-grown selves, and so cats may be able to pick them off all the easier. Even if you think that your chicks are safe, cats can be wily hunters when they want to and may be able to put those hunting skills to use by sneaking into your chicken coop and causing havoc.
Finally, there is the question of what stray, and feral cats might do. While your cats may be tame enough to leave your chickens alone, feral and stray cats likely won’t do so. One big reason has to do with the fact that your cat is (hopefully) fed better than these stray and feral cats, which means they have a stronger incentive and ability to obey you. Cats, like other animals, obey their people first and foremost. You can tell your cat to leave chickens alone and they may or may not do it, but a starving cat definitely won’t.
What You Can Do About it?
First and foremost, you’ll want to keep your chicks separate from your cat in an area that is inaccessible to them. Use lids, high walls, and other measures to ensure that cats cannot get in.
As alluded to above, one of the most important steps you can take in making sure your cat does not terrorize your chickens is by making sure you feed them enough so that they don’t feel the need to go peeping around your chicken coop in the first place. Make sure that you feed the cats far away from the chicken coop as well.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that there is no stray food anywhere near the chicken coop. This can be food for cats or for the chickens. You want to make sure that, in your cat’s mind, there is nothing that indicates to them that the area around the chicken coop is a place where “food is” and thus a place where they want to be.
If you see cats start to move toward your chicken coop or harass your chickens, don’t wait – nip that activity in the bud by scolding your cat.
You may also want to spray certain “cat repellent” scents around the chicken coop. Your cat’s sense of smell is a huge driving force in their life and decision-making process, so if they don’t like the smell around the chicken coop, they are much less likely to go there.
One of the most important things you’ll have to decide is just how much protection you are willing to give your chickens.
On the one hand, if you want to give them a ton of protection, there are a ton of options available to you. As stated, you can put up high walls and place lids on your chicken coop to make it that much harder for your cats to get in. You can take it a step further by installing security systems around the area to ensure that your cats can’t breach the perimeter without being met with loud sounds and bright lights and other motion sensor-triggered features. Some people even install low-voltage electric fences, with the voltage nowhere near enough to hurt the cat but just enough to give them a slight “buzz” and thus keep them from ever doing that again.
On the other hand, there are understandably those who aren’t wild about their cat potentially getting shocked, and who don’t like the idea of fencing their chickens in that way, either. In addition, your chickens might not like the idea of being fenced in too much, either. Chickens like to roam and those keeping them often like to free range them, which isn’t possible while they’re stuck behind a fence.
That’s why one of the most important tools for keeping chickens safe from cats is simple vigilance. Keep an eye on your cat any time they are anywhere close to your chickens or their coop.
By following these simple pieces of advice, you can hopefully help avoid your cats getting into fights with chickens or trying to steal a “chicken dinner” for themselves.