Are domestic cats safe with badgers around?

Although I live in a distinctly urban environment, last night my cat brought to my attention the presence of two badgers in my small back garden. I was surprised. In fact I was very surprised. It is the first time that I’ve seen badgers in my garden although I routinely see foxes using a track behind my garden.

Cat encounters badger
Cat encounters badger. Photo: Brighton Uni. This is the sort of encounter I’d expect. A bemused cat and a disinterested badger.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

My surprise is partly due to there being no access for a badger to my garden. I have no idea how they got in because there’s a cat confinement fence around it. I’m going to check the garden today and will update the page afterwards (I am writing this at 6am in the morning in bed). UPDATE: As expected they had burrowed under the fence on the left side. This opening also explains why my cat has recently returned home via this route. This had bemused me to.

Their presence prompted me to check whether domestic cats are safe when badgers are around. Badgers are strong animals and when cornered can be aggressive and dangerous. That said, I love wildlife and I am perfectly happy to have them in my garden but I need to protect my cat.

Badger and cat in garden at night
Badger and cat in garden at night. The cat is Lulu. This is not my cat. This is a screenshot from a video.

Very low risk – Badgers are carrion eaters

My research indicates that it is unlikely, perhaps extremely unlikely, that a badger will hurt my cat. Cats rarely square up to a badger because they regard badgers as dangerous or a potential threat and avoid them. Badgers, for their part, would seem to be disinterested in attacking domestic cats.

The website badgerland.co.uk tells me that if a person sees a badger eating a domestic cat it’s almost certain to be a cat killed by some other means. Only in 2% of cases will a badger have killed the animal that it is feeding upon. In short, they eat carrion.

Escape route

Provided my cat has an escape route – which he has – then all should be well. There appears to be one caveat which is that if a person is moving to the countryside and has a young cat it might be wise to keep the cat inside between dawn and dusk if badgers come into the garden. This allows the cat to become familiar to the new environment and to learn about badgers.

Cats are able to escape if required. If there is a cat flap (cat door) to the house they can escape through it or if there is a climbing frame to climb up cats can escape that way. It would seem that the key to providing safety for your cat is to provide an escape route and let your cat use their intelligence and speed to protect themselves.

Cornered

There are instances when a badger might be dangerous to cats and dogs. This is when they are cornered and defending their cubs. But it appears to be very rare and they do not kill family pets such as cats and dogs unless under these particular circumstances.

Disagreement

I would expect some cat owners to disagree with my approach. Indeed many cat owners in America would regard my thoughts as irresponsible because they keep their cat companions inside the home at all times.

For me, it’s a balancing act between allowing my cat a chance to live a full life while taking steps to keep him safe. It will always be a compromise if you let your cat go outside. Of course, even inside the home domestic cats are not entirely safe, far from it in fact. There are many hazards inside the home including hidden chemicals in carpets and household plants to name just two.

As his guardian, I have to decide the balance of risk on behalf of my cat. I love wildlife and I believe that all animals have a right to live, which is equal to the human right to life, and it gives me pleasure to allow them to live in harmony with me and my cat.

An article I read recently in the newspaper said that one of the greatest relaxants for a person is to walk within nature for 20 to 30 minutes daily. In other words to connect with nature for half an hour a day. Doctors should prescribe it. I have always done this whenever possible and it unfailingly helps to make me feel better. We need to be part of nature and not distance ourselves from it. It takes us to our ancestral roots.

Letting badgers come into my garden and hopefully living in harmony with me and my cat should be good for us all.

P.S. I tried to film the badgers on my smartphone but it was too dark. I’ll try again if I see them again using a different camera.

Update: here is a camera trap video I made a few days ago (it is now 2nd August 2020). You can see the two badgers. My cat is also out at night. I am sure he bumps into them sometimes but keeps his distance.

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15 thoughts on “Are domestic cats safe with badgers around?”

  1. It is cruel to keep cats indoors. They are outdoor, roaming animals that love to scent-mark their territories and explore the area.

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    • Thanks Carole. What you say is typical of many people. It is a competition between allowing a cat to express their natural desires and motivations and protecting wildlife and keeping cats safe. A difficult task to find the balance.

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    • I play with my cat (ACTIVELY) more than two hours a day . He is leash trained and loves it, I let him go where he wants for the most part but I am there to protect and I will protect. My cat sleeps with me, comes to the office with me, cruises with me on the boat. He has a special life jacket and sailing harness. He talks to me in his way when he wants anything. His tail is always high and he seems always happy and unstressed. I WILL NOT LET HIM OUTSIDE ON HIS OWN. Stupid people driving, mean people who might harm him, other wild animals, disease and of course domestic dogs owned by trashy people ; I live in a well to do area but… I had to shoot a pit bull type dog who attacked my cat while on leash. It was awful but I acted fast and my cat was fine with only minor injuries. I brought my cat in the house. Went out to check on the dog who had run back and lied on his owners porch. I grabbed him put him in cage and brought him to the vet while my wife brought my cat. Fortunately after a surgery the dog was going to be ok. his eye was touch and go and he lost vision in it because apparently my cats claws got to it. I never saw it happen. Fortunately i have thick leather harness and it protected my cat from the attack long enough for me to respond.
      Now, the owners of the dog, who let it run around without supervision while it attacked pets and people didn’t want to pay for the services. They took me to court and lost and I pushed until the authorities took the dog away from them. Where he has a new home of hopefully responsible people. My cat is a domestic short-hair close to 17lbs lean (maybve a little main coon). Needless to say I love my cat and wont allow him and do my best to keep him safe and happy.

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      • Luckily for me I live in the south west of England, where it is illegal to keep pit bulls and guns. I am 70 years old and have always had cats. None of them have ever been mauled. One of my neighbours did not like feral cats in his garden but the worst thing he ever did was to turn a hosepipe on one of them that was getting near his newly-planted flowerbeds. My current cat is one of the feral ones that lived in a nearby park, and nobody messes with her – me included! She is affectionate and talkative, and very much enjoys being in my garden.

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      • Thank you, Bill, for your interesting comment. I enjoyed reading it. It’s quite a story. I completely understand why you supervise your cat outside. I think actually you have quite a nice compromise in that your cat is leash trained. This allows your cat to enjoy the outside and be mentally stimulated while being safe. Not many people actually do that because they don’t have the commitment to do it. And I agree that it can be dangerous for cats allowed outside unsupervised. The trend in America, as I understand it, is to increasingly keep cats indoors full-time.

        Sadly, most of these cat owners don’t think hard enough about mentally stimulating their cat. Just keeping your cat inside the home full-time isn’t enough. It’s enough to keep them safe and to give their owners peace of mind but it is not enough in terms of creating an environmentally enriched place for a domestic cat to enjoy and where they can express their natural behaviours and desires.

        I like what you’ve done. I am sorry that your experienced that horrible problem with the dog attack. You saved your cat’s life by the sound of it.

        I allow my cat to go outside through the cat flap. I did try to keep him inside a garden enclosure but he escaped. I’m in the process of leash training him to do the kind of thing you do. I also have a cat stroller! Not many people have those. It does, allow me to take him further afield and be further mentally stimulated.

        Thanks again for commenting.

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      • i dont know much about badgers, but i know the facts. two of the cats were killed while the owners were watching. another was found eaten up near a known hive. would love to discuss more if you have any questions or knowledge!

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        • Well, I have just skimmed over my article to remind myself what I said. My research indicated that normally badgers don’t attack cats. Are you sure that a badger killed the cats? You say the cats’ owners saw it happen. Could you get them to write a comment on this page!? That would be great. Foxes occasionally kill cats but once again it is not normal in the UK. Unless the cats are young, elderly or infirm. Do you have hard evidence? Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is appreciated.

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          • An important thing to note is that most of the deceased cats were atleast 10 years old. The articles are in norwegian, as thats were this is happening, but ill try to translate. Here what has happened as i know.
            1. A badger ran after a lady, up the stairs to her door, but she luckily got in without any issues
            2. Three badgers were fighting i broad daylight and one of them tried to bite a lady
            3. A dog was attacked by one, as seen by the owner (idk much about this one)
            4. The elderly cat Freddy was reported missing, and was shortly after found in pieces right by a hive (i can show you a picture if you’d like, but its graphic), theyre not 100% sure that it was a badger but its highy suspected.
            5. The young cat Sigge, was out at night when the owners heard a fight outside to they went out to look and there was a badger over Sigge biting her. They threw a chair at the badger and ut went away. When they got to the cat it had almost of its tail, lost an eye and had been bitten in the head. They took Sigge to the vet to put her down and when they got back, the badger was still in their garden.
            6. An unknown cat was brought to the clinic after being mostly eaten up.
            7. The cat Luca was sleeping outside on a bed for her there, and in the middle of the night the owners heard a catscream so they checked. They opened the door and saw a badger with its teeth in Luca. After hitting the badger repeatedly and screaming, it let go and the cat was able to get away. The badger turned around and launched again at the cat. The cat ran in panic away. The owners found her under the badger again, this time dead.
            8. Arnie’s owner went out to run an errand and when she came back she saw the reflection of three pairs of eyes. The cat Arnie, and two badgers. She honked to get them away without any response. She ran after them and they dragged the cat after them as they ran. They let go of him after a while and Arnie died in her arms. The neighbours had heard catscreams a little before she got home.
            Theres more aswell but i cant find much information on it. Theres also tons of missing cat posters here.

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            • I have skimmed your comment for which I thank you. If I have missed something – sorry. My thoughts are (1) the badger(s) involved were behaving defensively and (2) the cat was elderly and therefore vulnerable. Badgers generally ignore cats and dogs but if provoked and become aggressively defensive they can kill a cat and harm others. But something provoked the badger to become very aggressive. Perhaps the dog harassed the badger. Perhaps the badger transferred his aggression from other badgers (they were fighting you say) to the dog and cat.

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  2. I don’t know how many times I have to say this. Keep your kids INDOORS!!! Cats have no reason to go outside unless they are on a leash and taking a walk with their guardian, or they have an enclosed outside area that is connected to said house. Humans are morons who let their kids outside! It only takes a second for disaster to strike. It matters not if it is by a malicious human or by another animal. To avoid your kids getting hurt keep them INDOORS!!

    Reply
    • I know and understand but we have different points of view on this I am afraid but I respect your point of view.

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    • It is completely wrong to keep a cat indoors! I have had cats all my life and they all had free rein to go out where and when they wanted through a catflap. I can sit on my patio and watch my cat running, jumping and playing on the lawn. She catches rats and mice, and enjoys her life to the full. How would you like to be kept indoors all your life? It is not natural for any healthy animal to be kept in prison.

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      • Thank you for commenting, Carole. Personally, I completely agree with you. However, there is a current trend in countries such as America to keep cats indoors full-time. This brings peace of mind to the owner. The argument is that it is safer for the cats but, in my view, the negative aspects of keeping a cat indoors full-time outweigh the positive aspects in terms of security. So, as I said, I’m with you on this one. But the trend is against you because of increased urbanisation due to increased human population numbers.

        Reply

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