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Will Barn Cats Kill Chickens? The Interesting Answer

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on January 31, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat surrounded with chickens

Will Barn Cats Kill Chickens? The Interesting Answer

Some barn cats may attack chickens, depending on the cat and their social skills. That said, some cats will never attack chickens as they may just not see them as prey animals.

Other cats may absolutely attack chickens. Usually, chickens that are much larger than the cat are safe. Chicks guarded by larger chickens are often safe, too. Smaller chickens are at the highest risk of being attacked by cats, as the cat can often successfully kill the chick.

Barn cats are often better hunters than house cats, as they’ve had a lot more practice. Therefore, they may be more likely to kill a chicken. However, many barn cats never attack chickens or try to hunt them.

Remember, poultry are a natural prey of cats. Even a feline that is usually pretty harmless may attack a chicken. You should keep smaller breeds and chicks away from cats, and protecting your chickens is vital—even if you aren’t worried about your cat attacking them.

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How Do I Keep My Barn Cat From Attacking My Chickens?

You cannot train out this behavior. It is instinctual. Cats will attack chickens because they look like prey animals. No amount of training will prevent this in many barn cats.

Therefore, you’ll need to confine your chickens to a safe area your cat cannot reach. Usually, an enclosure is necessary. Luckily, it doesn’t often need to be very strong, as your cat won’t be able to break through most wire cages. Smaller chickens and chicks should be specifically protected.

However, most larger chickens will be fine—even with a cat known for attacking chickens. Chickens can weigh just as much as a cat in many cases.

Tips to protect your chickens from your cat:
  • Secure your chicken coop: Make sure your chicken coop is secure and cat-proof. This means no holes or gaps in the walls or roof a cat can squeeze through. You can also consider installing a latch or lock on the coop door to prevent the cat from getting in.
  • Use a motion-activated sprinkler: Set up a motion-activated sprinkler near your chicken coop. When a cat approaches, the sprinkler will activate and spray the cat with water, scaring it away.
  • Use chicken wire: Cover your chicken run with chicken wire or hardware cloth. This will prevent the cat from getting to your chickens but still allow your chickens to move freely.
  • Use scent deterrents: Cats are deterred by certain smells, such as citrus or vinegar. You can try spraying a vinegar solution or placing citrus peels around your coop to keep the cat away.
  • Keep your chickens confined: If you have a problem with a persistent barn cat, consider keeping your chickens confined to a fenced area or a covered run. This will provide extra protection and prevent the cat from getting to your chickens.

Will a Rooster Protect Hens From a Cat?

In some cases, yes. It does depend a bit on the rooster. Larger, territorial roosters will protect the flock from a cat, though they may not always be successful. Some roosters are better at this job than others.

Some breeds don’t produce very protective roosters, and you’ll need to research your particular breed to determine if they will protect your hens or not. Again, smaller chickens are at a higher risk, including roosters. If you have a smaller rooster, he may be unable to protect the flock from the cat or other threats.

chicken coop
Image Credit: John-Panella, Shutterstock

Can a Cat Kill a Chicken?

Cats will have a very hard time killing a healthy, adult chicken. However, younger and smaller chickens are an easier target that some cats may be able to kill. It depends on the cat’s size and the chicken’s exact size.

Smaller chickens and chicks should be kept away from cats and other predators, preferably in a secure enclosure. Even the most harmless barn cat can kill a chick or small bantam chicken. It’s completely instinctual.

With that said, even larger chickens can be injured by a cat. Injuries are most common for roosters and hens defending the flock. Cats may not go after these chickens directly. But they can be caught in the crossfire.

cat and chickens in the yard
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Barn cats are natural predators known to kill small animals such as birds, mice, and even rabbits. Chickens can be particularly vulnerable to barn cats, especially if they are young or small. While some barn cats may coexist peacefully with chickens, others may see them as prey and attack them. Therefore, taking precautions to protect your chickens from barn cats is important.

Even if you think your feline isn’t dangerous, their instincts may kick in at any moment. Plus, other felines from nearby areas may also threaten your chickens. When in doubt, always keep your chickens secure.

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Featured Image Credit By: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

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