do cats kill chickens

Do Cats Kill Chickens?

Yes, cats do attack and kill chickens.

Cats are predators and if they see an opportunity to attack a chicken, they may do so.

Although it is rare for cats to kill chickens, particularly larger chickens, there are cases of it happening so precautions must be taken.

Most cats probably won’t try to attack a chicken just for the fun of it but they may attack one if they are hungry or in self defence.

Chicks and smaller chicken breeds are more in danger of being attacked than larger chickens, but this does not mean that adult chickens are completely safe.

Cats Are Natural Hunters

Cats may be cute and, sometimes, cuddly but let’s not forget that they are talented hunters.

Even if the cat in question is a house cat that loves the comfort of the sofa, they still have hunting instincts.

hunting cat with twitching tail

Many cats enjoy catching mice or small birds when they are roaming around outside so if they happen to see unprotected chickens they may take their chance.  

Cats are pretty smart so they often avoid altercations with larger chickens if they can help it.

If your cat hasn’t come across chickens before they could simply be curious and may be chased away by a larger adult or cockerel.

If this happens, the cat may decide to keep their distance in the future.

In many cases, large chickens and cats can coexist but the risk of attack is higher around smaller chickens and chicks. 

Keep Cats Away From Chicks 

As chicks are so small and defenseless it makes them a prime target for cats.

A young chicken is about the size of a garden bird and is incredibly vulnerable.

cat sleeping with baby chick
Many cats will not be this gentle with young chicks!

A cat will think nothing of pouncing on one of these youngsters.

If the chickens are smaller breeds such as bantams then extra precautions are recommended, even when the chickens are fully grown. 

Do Cats Eat Chickens? 

Yes, cats do eat chickens so if they kill one they may also eat it.

Cats often hunt smaller animals such as mice and small garden birds but they may try their luck with chickens if the opportunity arises.

cat and chickens

If a cat does attack a chicken they will try to kill it.

This often happens very quickly and the cat will often carry the chicken away from the coop to eat it.

Some people say it looks as though a fox is responsible for the killing as there will be feathers and blood around but no chicken.

Be aware cats eating raw chicken can get salmonella poisoning, so if a chicken goes missing at the same time your cat becomes ill this could be why!

Many Cats Live Peacefully With Chickens 

Not all cats will kill chickens. It depends on the individual as different cats will respond differently to being around chickens.

cat looking at chicken

This is why there is no straight answer and it is best to take care if you have a cat and there is a flock of chickens nearby or if you own chickens and worry about neighbourhood cats.

Some cats are able to live peacefully with chickens and some may see it as an opportunity to practice their hunting. 

Ways You Can Prevent Your Cat Attacking Chickens 

  1. Careful Introductions

If you introduce your cat to chickens from an early age and reward positive interactions then you can reduce the risk of your cat attacking chickens in the future. 

  1. Keep Your Cat Well Fed 

If your cat is well fed they are less likely to attack chickens.

Stray or feral cats may attack chickens if they are in need of a meal. 

cat eating with chickens
  1. Avoid Leaving Food Near The Chicken Coop

Having food left around the outside of the chicken coop may encourage cats and other animals near the chickens.

It’s best to avoid temptation by keeping food items away from the coop

  1. Keep The Chickens Enclosed In A Safe Area

One of the simplest ways you can keep chickens safe is by protecting them with an enclosure.

Even if your cat behaves around the birds, you will have less control over other people’s cats or feral cats so using chicken wire to keep the chickens enclosed is a good idea.

Stalking Behaviour

While stalking may seem like harmless fun, a cat that is stalking is planning to pounce.

If you see a cat stalking a chicken it is best to intervene, just in case.

Some cats may just be stalking as practice but you don’t want to wait to find out.

As you won’t always be keeping an eye on your cat when they wander to the chickens, it is best to put other preventative measures in place to keep the chickens safe. 

Prevention Is Best

It is a good idea to protect the chickens so they are not at risk of being attacked, killed or eaten.

The best way to protect chickens from cats and other predators is to keep them in a safe, secure area.

Using fencing, mesh, high walls or lids to close off the area and ensure other animals cannot get to the chickens is highly recommended. 

Another thing you can do is use cat repellents around the outside of the chicken coop.

For example, you could put plants that cats don’t like around the outside of the coop as an additional deterrent.

You can have chickens when you own a cat but it is important to keep the chickens in a secure area.

Some people keep their chickens in an enclosed area until they are big and then let them roam freely but this is up to you as there is still a risk of the chickens being attacked.

If you don’t think your cat would attack the chickens, there may be other cats locally, as well as other predators, so it is best to keep your chickens in a fenced area just to be on the safe side. 

Top Tips To Keep Your Chickens Safe From Cats

  1. Make the chickens inaccessible to the cat by securing their area
  2. Keep your cat well fed 
  3. Avoid putting any food for the cat near the chicken coop
  4. Reward positive interactions and put a stop to negative interactions immediately
  5. Use cat repellent techniques to make the chicken’s area less appealing 
  6. Be vigilant any time your cat is near the chickens