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Do Cats Attack Chickens?

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Cats are notorious for causing mischief and it is no different on backyard chicken farms. If you own both animals, you may be wondering if your cats will ever try to hurt your chickens.

Do Cats Attack Chickens?  Yes and no. It really all depends on the specific cat and how familiar it is with chickens. Some cats will attack chickens and some cats will not. Luckily, there are some precautions that you can take to keep your chickens safe from any cats that may seem fit to attack them.

Wild street cats and chicken outdoors

Feral cats that are unfamiliar with chickens are more likely to attack chickens than domesticated ones, but it is still possible with any cat.

Keeping both the cats on your property and the chickens you are raising safe is the main goal at stake here. The more you learn about cats and chickens, the better prepared you will be to prevent any issues that may arise between the animals.

Do Cats Attack Chickens?

All cats do not attack chickens, but unfortunately, there are some that will.

Cats that attack chickens tend to go after small chicks, young chickens, or small bantam breeds that are unable to defend themselves.

They tend to avoid larger chickens that fight back and can even injure a cat during a fight.

Just because a cat you own has never attacked a chicken, does not mean they never will.

House cats that are unfamiliar with chickens may attack baby chicks that you bring indoors to keep warm. Cats do not understand that we want the chickens to live, they may think you just brought them a tasty toy to play with.

Why Do Cats Attack Chickens?

Cats that attack chickens do so for various reasons. Some cats that attack small chickens just enjoy chasing small animals, or they simply do not like the little chickens. Others are looking for an easy meal and the small chicken just fit the bill.

Cats are hunters by nature and sometimes they just hunt prey for the thrill of hunting. The prey in this case would be the small chicken or baby chick. Cats enjoy a variety of food and even if you just fed them the best cat food in the world, they may still want to have some fresh chicken for a snack.

Can a Cat Kill a Chicken?

A cat will have a hard time killing a healthy, large adult chicken. They can, however, kill a smaller chicken or a young chicken very easily. Sometimes the cat may not even intend to kill a baby chick, but it happens while they are ‘playing’ with it.

A large chicken, if bitten or scratched in the right place on its body, can suffer a fatal injury during a cat attack.

Sick or injured chickens can more easily be killed by a cat during an attack as well. Cats have very sharp teeth and claws that can quickly and efficiently kill a small chicken or other small animal.

Wild street cat and a Chicken outdoors

Will Barn Cats Attack Chickens?

Some, not all, barn cats will attack chickens, but they usually know better than to attack large chickens or chicks that are being cared for by an adult chicken. Barn cats are typically braver than house cats, but they are also smarter too.

If they have been around chickens for a long time, they are usually less likely to attack them. Barn cats that are newly introduced to chickens or baby chicks, or have recently found entrance into a coop, are more likely to attack.

They do not know better nor do they see the chickens as friends. Instead, the smaller chickens look like prey and cats are notoriously great hunters.

How to Keep Chickens Safe From Cats

While larger healthy chickens can defend themselves easily against the average-sized domestic cat, smaller chickens will need to be protected from cats. This is especially true if the cat is unfamiliar with chickens.

Keep the Chickens Secure

brown hens behind mesh cage at poultry farm

To keep baby chicks safe from cats and other predators, either make sure they stay near their mothers, or keep them in a brooder box or small chicken pen until they are at least 6 months old.

Bantams and other chickens that remain small even in adulthood, should be keep in a secure coop or fenced-in area to keep cats at bay.

Separate and Secure Unwell Chickens

Separate any sickly or injured chickens into a safe and secure pen that cats can not get into. Keep them sequestered in a safe location until they are strong enough to defend themselves against cats. Unhealthy chickens cannot protect themselves against a healthy cat, it is just impossible.

Feed Your Cat Plenty of Food

Cats enjoy eating different types of food and lots of it throughout the day. To cut down on their chicken hunting, consider feeding them a variety of hard and soft foods of different flavors. Feed them plenty so they are less likely to want to mess with chickens.

Put Cats Up at Night

Consider having an area to house your cats during the night to keep them away from the chicken coop. While most chickens roost at night or are safe with mother hens, it will cut down on any nightly coop break-ins by your cat.

You can house barn cats in crates inside a barn, tack room, or other shed through the night, as long as you remember to let them back out each morning.

Keep Indoor Cats Away From Baby Chicks

Sometimes chicken owners will bring baby chicks inside and set up a brooder box to keep them fed, happy, and warm while they grow.

If a cat is indoors as well, keep the door closed to any room that chicks may be kept in. Indoor cats that are not familiar with the bird will sometimes mistake them for dinner.

Country tricolor cat watches chicken, predator hunter instincts concept

Do Cats Attack Roosters?

Cats are far less likely to attack roosters. The reason is that roosters are much more capable of defending themselves against cats and other predators. Roosters have extremely sharp spurs on the backs of their feet that they use to fight predators like cats.

If a cat does attack a rooster, chances are it will refrain from attacking one ever again. A rooster can do some severe damage to a cat in just a matter of seconds.  Most cats will learn their lesson after one go-round with a rooster.

How to Know if a Cat Wants to Attack a Chicken?

Watch cats that live around your chickens very closely. It is easy to pick up on signs that they may be contemplating attacking a chicken or baby chick. Do not just think that your cat watching your chickens means that he or she thinks they are cute.

Domesticated cats that live indoors or outdoors will show signs that they are in the hunting stage. Cats that are stalking their prey, or chicken, will crouch down and move very slowly as they inch closer to the animal. Right before they pounce, they stop and prepare to lurch forward in a mad dash to attack.

If you notice your cat doing this repeatedly while watching a chicken of any age, put the chicken up and move the cat away from the situation. It is almost inevitable that they will try to attack a chicken eventually, if they have not already.

Final Thoughts

Some cats do just fine around chickens and never have a desire to attack them. Some cats, however, simply cannot help themselves and view chickens as prey.

The best thing to do is keep your chickens safe and out of harm’s way when it comes to these cats. Watch your cats closely for signs of aggression towards the chickens and keep any baby chicks, small chickens, or unwell chickens away from the grasp of any suspicious-acting cats.


It is important to know all the facts about cat behavior when it comes to keeping your chickens safe from them. Here are the sources I used when writing this article.

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