Many poultry owners or chicken keepers are constantly worried about their chickens, especially when cats are around. “Do cats kill chickens?”, or “Should I keep my chickens protected against predators like cats?”
Wildcats do eat chickens especially pullets because they’re easy targets as they tend to explore the surroundings on their own, while hungry feral and domestic cats are likely to eat baby chickens, but they won’t bother with the legs, wings, and feathers because those parts don’t have much meat.
So before you start getting terrified, there are a lot of ways you can keep your chicks safe.
It’s because cats generally don’t kill adult chickens, probably due to their size. Let’s discuss this in detail.
Table of Contents
- Are Cats Dangerous to Have Around Chickens?
- How To Protect Your Chickens From Cats?
- General FAQs
Are Cats Dangerous to Have Around Chickens?
Although chickens aren’t at the top of the prey list for cats, they’re included somewhere.
Since hunting instincts are present in these feline creatures from birth, they tend to harm any weak or small animal that crosses their paths.
Besides, cats are extremely cunning and smart creatures.
They’ll deliberately avoid harming grown chickens as they’re not only big in size but also come with stronger claws, thicker beaks, and powerful spurs.
Therefore, these feline species have realized that it’s better to leave the adult chicken alone to avoid getting injuries from those sharp chicken claws, and beaks.
So, the real issue lies with safeguarding your baby chicks as they’re fragile and can easily fall prey to any predators, including cats, dogs, birds of prey, and so on.
Even if the cat in your neighborhood or your own home appears fluffy, friendly, and harmless, they’ll eventually display their predatory instincts.
That’s why we advise you to rethink your decision before letting your chicks play with the carnivorous pet at home, no matter how adorable it may seem.
Your cat may start by playing with your little poultry babies, but the “play” won’t end in a very favorable way for your chickens.
Some feline animals may directly attack your baby chicks from the very beginning as they can’t resist their temptation to hunt or kill.
Moreover, baby chicks aren’t mature and well-developed to fight back or defend themselves.
Besides, poultry animals are rich sources of essential nutrients, and it enables the predators to stay energetic all day long.
The chicken diet is also directly linked to healthy teeth and bones. And of course, they’re tasty as you and I know!
But, at the same time, you need to keep your baby chickens safe, especially the small and growing ones. Because you earn a living from poultry animals and products.
Therefore, it’s your responsibility to safeguard and keep them well-protected against such predators.
Moreover, eating raw chickens may be dangerous for your feline pet.
Because some of these birds may carry diseases or viruses such as salmonella. Your cat may contract and pass them onto you or your family members.
For instance, E. coli and Salmonella present in the raw chicken are toxic to you as well as your cat.
Raw chicks may also cause parasitic diseases like toxoplasmosis and others. That’s why veterinarians recommend pet owners to feed their cats and dogs only properly cooked meat.
How To Protect Your Chickens From Cats?
Some pet owners may want their cats to stay indoors. This is, no doubt, an excellent way to protect your chickens as well as your cat’s health (feline creatures may contract diseases if they eat diseased animals).
However, this won’t work all the time because your cat may slip out and chase these backyard chickens in your absence.
Besides, there’s no point in completely imprisoning your feline friend as they need a good walk outdoors from time to time to stay fit while getting a breath of fresh air.
And what about stray cats or neighboring ones who may still harm your backyard flock?
To cope with this issue, here are five effective ways to keep your chicks secured.
Adopt a farm dog breed
We all know how protective and loyal dogs can be. These responsible pets not only protect our homes but also keep away all unwanted intruders or predators.
But you need to be a little careful if you plan to adopt a dog to safeguard your weaker pets, such as chickens at your farm.
By careful, we mean that you need to train your dog properly to ensure that he or she is only warding off predators and isn’t harming any children, family members, or other farm animals.
For instance, we’ll have relatives and other visitors from time to time that the dog isn’t familiar with.
If you haven’t train your dog, they may mistakenly think your guests are threats to the house, and as a result, they’ll attack your visitors.
Not only that, many farm dogs are known to be the predators of chickens themselves.
So, if you’re getting a dog to save your chickens, make sure your dog is behaving well with your flock of meat birds.
Whenever your dog attempts an attack on your chicks, reprimand such actions immediately.
If you don’t make your furry pet realize that it’s a wrong act, they’ll think it’s normal to attack your chickens and will continue the game, causing you as well as your chickens more harm.
Some of the best dog breeds that can protect your chickens include –
- Great Pyrenees
Get a rooster
Roosters help to protect your chickens and can keep predators at bay.
These creatures can confront all animals with predatory instincts while keeping them away from your chicken pen.
Roosters are brave enough to fight back, even if it means sacrificing their own life.
Besides, roosters can also encourage your adult hens to stay together and form a unity, thus making it easier for them to ward off predators.
However, since roosters are unable to identify children from predators, they can be considered as threats too.
So, if you have kids at home, ensure to keep them away from roosters; otherwise, these animals may hurt them.
Some of the best roosters breeds to protect your hens include –
- Rhode Island Red – This rooster breed can be very aggressive and weighs 8.6 lbs
- Shamo Rooster – This rooster breed weighs an average of 12.4 lbs and is very aggressive
- Old English Game – This rooster breed weighs 4,5 lbs and is also very aggressive
However, before getting roosters, ensure that you’ve received permission from your city or neighborhood council.
Since these animals wake up very early in the morning and make noise, it’ll become annoying for your neighbors.
Install good quality fencing
Fencing is another effective method to protect your chickens but this must be installed very high because cats are great jumpers. You can put install good quality fences in two ways –
- Chicken Run: These fences help to safeguard your chickens completely from predators like barn cats. What’s more, it comes with walks and perches that provide that extra space for your chicks.
- Galvanized Hardwire Mesh: Fencing provides ample space for your chickens to walk around, fly, perch in various places, and so on. Besides, fencing mesh is quite inexpensive, and you can easily get it at your local hardware store.
In addition to that, since your chickens need an appropriate area to roost, you can build or buy a chicken coop. A chicken coop is basically a pen or a cage where chickens are kept.
Properly covering the brooder
Keep the brooder in a secure place away from cats and any other predators.
Place the lid of the brooder tightly to avoid the escape of your chicks or the intrusion of any cat.
If your chickens need to be outside for feeding or other purposes, ensure they’re well-protected inside an enclosure.
Furthermore, never leave any of your chickens alone or without strict supervision.
As the chicken reaches adult size, it becomes strong and mature, which is why cats are no longer attracted to it.
Also, make it a habit of checking on your baby chicks every day since the chick brooders generally come with an opening on the top (which is generally for placing a heat lamp as baby chickens need something to keep their body temperature under control).