Do domestic cats attack chickens?

You could also ask whether feral cats attack chickens. The answer has got to be that sometimes they do but it is rare judging by my research and using common sense. People say that hens are too large for a domestic cat to successfully attack and kill. I don’t believe it. It depends on the cat, certainly. But there will be many confident, large and inherently aggressive and highly motivated domestic and feral cats who might be inclined to take on a chicken if the opportunity arises, and succeed at it.

The kākāpō, also called owl parrot, is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot which has been brought to the edge of extinction in New Zealand by, allegedly, predation by feral cats. Or at least the cats are partly responsible. Feral cats are, as we know, the same size as domestic cats more or less. This species of parrot is bigger than a chicken. This confirms, I’d argue, that the size of the chicken does not protect it from domestic cat predation. Also, I think that you’ll find that animal welfare laws in developed countries allow farmers to shoot feral cats if they prey on their farm animals.

Pullet
Pullet. Image by dewdrop157 from Pixabay .
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

So, the answer is yes, sometimes but rarely. There is a rather bizarre story by a so-called “independent thinker” whose name is Todd Elliott on the Quora.com website. He reported on that website that he had a batch of 27 young hens (pullets) and he claims that a large feral cat attacked and ate all but 12 of them. He doesn’t explain how this cat ate or removed from the chicken coop 15 birds. He doesn’t explain where the remains were or what happened to them. He just said that he set a trap and caught the cat in an outside chicken run. He shot the cat day with a .22 rifle and he rejoiced in his happy work by saying, “A quick 22 slug and the cat became compost, and I stopped losing chickens.”

I left a comment in which I said that he did not have to kill the cat. It was his fault. He simply had to make sure that his hens were properly protected. He could have released the cat and then reinforced the protection of his pullets. What is wrong with that idea? Perhaps he enjoyed shooting the cat? Perhaps he does not like cats?

Other people on that website said that they’ve had chickens and cats for decades and never had a problem. One person said that “Any chicken beyond the age of 2-3 months would not be interesting to a cat”. It is doubtful whether a typical domestic cat would try and attack an adult chicken and I’m sure most people have not heard of it.

I think it’s a question of domestic and feral cats being savvy about avoiding prey animals which might injure them. If they can find a prey animal which is easier to track, attack and kill they will take that opportunity and avoid the more difficult and bigger prey animals. This is why, under perhaps exceptional circumstances a very hungry, large and competent feral cat might attack chickens if they were available but other than under those circumstances, as mentioned, it is rare I would suggest. Wrong? Please leave a comment.

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