Do Cats Attack Chickens? (Risks & Safety Advice!)

Do Cats Attack Chickens

Cat’s can and might attack a chicken, yes. It’s rare, as a cat will typically attack much smaller prey like rodents and smaller birds. For this reason, baby chicks are at much higher risk and do require protection.

Are Cats a Danger to Chickens?

Whether you own chickens or you’re considering getting some, you may be concerned about your cat potentially attacking them.

This is certainly a valid concern, because cats are predators by nature, and they enjoy killing small birds, mice, and rats.

So, are cats a danger to chickens? Cats certainly can be a danger to chickens, especially if the chickens aren’t fully grown.

A full-grown chicken will fight back, and if your cat were to attack one and the chicken fights back, your cat might give up and refrain from bothering the chickens again in the future.

You can’t predict how your cat might react to you bringing home new baby chicks. One good thing is that the chicks won’t live inside your home, as your cat likely does.

You will hopefully house the chicks in a covered area outside. However, if your cat sometimes ventures outside, he could very well enter the area where your chicks are housed and hurt or even kill them.

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Do Cats Kill Full Grown Chickens?

Despite their natural instinct to hunt birds, cats aren’t stupid. In fact, most cats are the exact opposite—they’re very smart!

Full-grown chickens can be large (anywhere between 5-10 lbs), and cats are aware that adult chickens are better at defending themselves than vulnerable baby chicks are.

Full-grown chickens will likely fight back if attacked by a cat, and cats are aware of this. This is more so true of male chickens, which are called roosters.

Roosters have spurs on the back of their legs. These are basically like a sharper, harder claw, and they use it to defend their flock against predators.

In a one-on-one match between a cat and an adult rooster, the rooster would likely cause injury to the cat.

While a cat would likely defeat the chicken in the end, most cats feel that picking a fight with a full-grown chicken isn’t worth the trouble. 

In a rare case, an unusually aggressive adult rooster could somehow provoke a cat, causing the cat to attack it.

However, this isn’t likely to happen with hens, which are female chickens. Most hens are docile and mind their own business.

In fact, most chickens would be totally oblivious to a cat being in the area. There is also the risk that a feral or extremely hungry cat might attack a full-grown chicken without provocation.

But most domesticated cats who are well cared for would prefer to forego a match with an adult chicken.

If you are the owner of chickens and cats, it’s best to keep the animals separated, because you can’t predict what might trigger your cats—or your adult chickens—to become unexpectedly antagonistic towards one another.

Do Tamed Cats Attack Chickens?

Most cat owners believe that their cute, cuddly kitties wouldn’t dare attack chickens or any other animal, right?

While your cat is likely very cute and cuddly, well-nourished, and even pampered, they still have a natural hunting instinct like cats that live out in the wild hunting for prey have.

It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with your cat because he likes hunting and sometimes killing smaller animals. It’s not a sign that they have bloodlust.

It’s just a cat’s natural instinct.

In other words, there is no such thing as a “tamed” cat when it comes to this instinct, as both domesticated and cats that live out in the wild have the same instincts.

So, do tamed cats kill chickens? Yes, tamed cats will kill chickens if they have the desire to at that time.

This is especially true if the chickens are not fully grown. Cats typically only seek out prey that is smaller and weaker than they are, so baby and adolescent chickens are prime targets.

While most domesticated cats have urges to kill smaller animals and will act on those urges, not all cats will act on these urges all the time.

There may even be a situation in which a cat will protect smaller, more vulnerable animals, but this is rare. You shouldn’t automatically expect that your cat will not act on his natural predator’s urges.

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How Do You Stop a Cat From Attacking Chickens?

Essentially, you can’t prevent a cat from attacking chickens if you allow the cat to roam around and the chickens are not in a protected area.

However, if you ensure that your chickens are kept in an area like an enclosed run or specially covered chicken coop that can only be accessed through a door, there would be no way for your cat to get to the chickens.

Baby chicks are unable to regulate their body temperature, so housing them in an enclosed area that is temperature-controlled is important for their survival, even if your cat isn’t a threat.

Adult chickens, who don’t require temperature-controlled environments, would be safe in any enclosed area.

You might want to invest in a chicken run to keep your older chickens safe if you don’t already have one.

A chicken run is a specially made fenced area for chickens that allows plenty of room for them to roam around.

They are predator-proof and will keep cats—or any other potential predators like raccoons, owls, foxes, etc.—away.

Chicken runs are convenient, as they are often lightweight and mobile, in case you need to move them around in the yard.

Chicken runs can be expensive, so if you want to stick to a budget, you might want to purchase the material to build your own.

It’s not difficult to build one if you like taking on building projects. You can find affordable chicken runs, depending on what you’re looking for, so do your research so you can find the perfect one that fits your budget if you don’t want to build one.

In Summary

As you can see, cats do have a natural killer instinct, whether a cat is as spoiled as Garfield, or if he lives out in the wild and must fight for his life and his food.

The fact that your cat is capable of harming a chicken or other small animal is not a reason to be distressed, because a cat is going to be a cat.

Cats can be sneaky and stealthy, potentially killing and even eating a baby chick before you realize your cat was even around, but cats are also sweet and affectionate as well.


Image credits – Header Photo by Derek Chang, chicken photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash

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