Of all the predators that chickens face, cats pose as a unique threat. For one, they’re a common house pet, and it doesn’t matter if they’re domesticated—their hunting instincts are innate and will come out no matter what. Secondly, they’re all over the United States, living as barn cats to stray cats to outdoor cats. In most cases, tomcats are usually the culprits.
Although many people don’t think about it, cats are truly a predator of chickens and chickens must be protected from cats to ensure their safety.
For context, cats use their claws to take down and kill chickens, like other animals they hunt. However, they do size up animals—smaller chickens, like chicks, are more likely to be eaten than, say, hens. That’s why cats go after mice so often. Cats typically will only eat 1 or 2 baby poultry, leaving behind wings and legs. If given the chance, they will kill nightly.
The best thing to do is to keep your chickens safe always with the proper perimeters. Make sure your coop is completely secured at night to protect poultry. If you have a larger grange, then add barbed wire fencing to ensure that cats do not jump over to grab chickens. This goes out especially to people who live in neighborhoods known for stray cats or barn cats!
At this point, you may be asking yourself: but what if I have a cat? Have no fear: cats can be trained to coexist with chickens, and even protect them against other predators. They just need the proper guidance and oversight to make that happen. You can try gradually introducing the cat to your chickens, under close supervision. Once they feel comfortable enough, your cats will welcome the chickens like family.
While cats may be one of the most common predators of chickens, there are ways to work around that to ensure that your chickens are safe and sound, and that everyone is happy in the end.
For more questions and concerns about the predators your chicken faces, visit our blog where you can view a variety of posts regarding chicken predators.