If you have a flock of chickens, it’s natural to worry about predators that might attack them, and one of the most common predators is the common cat. One of the questions we get most frequently from new owners is will cats attack a chicken. The short answer is that cats generally do not attack chickens, but there is a lot to consider, so keep reading while we look into when a cat might attack and what you can do to protect your flock.


Do Cats Attack Chickens?

Leghorn Chicken
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House Cats

The main thing to consider is the type of cat. Regardless of breed, its living environment will have a huge impact on its behavior. House cats, for instance, are extremely pampered, and some experts suggest that more than 50% of cats are overweight. These cats are not likely to attack your chickens, and even if they did, the cats wouldn’t be able to put up much of a chase, and they would quickly get tired. It’s more likely that the large size of a full-grown chicken is more than the cat is prepared to take on. Cats usually like smaller prey like mice, birds, and insects.

How Can I Protect My Flock?

If the cats threatening your flock spend most of their time in the house, you probably don’t have much cause for concern. However, they could present a danger to small chicks and some smaller chicken breeds, so you will want to make sure they are separated until the chicks get a little bigger.

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Outdoor Cats

sick and thin cat
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If you have a cat that spends most of its time outside, it poses more of a threat to your chickens than the house cat. These cats tend to be slimmer and faster, so they can put up more of a chase and take on larger prey. Luckily, most chickens will still be too large to be your cat’s first choice for prey, and they will still prefer to hunt mice, moles, grasshoppers, and birds. However, if a cat sees an easy target, it will likely attack.

How Can I Protect My Flock?

If you have a lot of outdoor cats in your area, there is not too much to worry about, but you can separate the smaller chickens behind a fence if you are worried. We also recommend frequently surveying your property as many outdoor cats will spend quite a while stalking the chickens it intends to attack.


Stray and Feral Cats

Feral cats in front of a mat curtain
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Stray and feral cats present the biggest danger to your chickens because, unlike housecats and outdoor cats, they rely on hunting for food and are always hungry. These cats are likely to be lean and fast with sharp abilities and may animals as large as a chicken if they have difficulty finding food elsewhere. In rare cases, the stray cats will even team up to take down larger prey.

How Can I Protect My Flock?

Fortunately, there are not a lot of stray cats in rural areas where most chickens are, so they don’t present a lot of danger. However, if you have a small coop near the city, they can be quite deadly. We recommend surrounding the coop with a tall chicken wire fence to keep the cats from getting in. Many dog breeds will not be interested in the chickens, but they will keep any cats away, and motion detection lighting can help scare the cats away at night. Cats hate cedar chips, so you can put them around the perimeter of your property to help keep them out. You can also call the local animal control to remove any stray cats stalking your birds, but you need to make sure it’s not someone’s outdoor cat first.

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Fortunately, most chicken breeds are too large for cats to attack, and they will only do so as a last resort. Stray and feral cats present the biggest danger because they’re hungry, fit, and skilled at killing. While these cats will spend most of their time hunting smaller play like chipmunks and mice, they may try to take down a chicken if it hasn’t found anything else, and some cats might even work together. Keeping your chickens behind a fence or screen provides the best defense. Dogs are a close second, and cedar chips and motion-sensing lighting also work to keep your chickens safe.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found the answers you need. If we have helped you protect your flock, please share our look into if cats attack chickens on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock