General Information and Description
Domestic cats (Felis Catus or Felus Silvestris Catus) are one of the most popular house pets in the world. Cats are carnivores belonging to the Felids or Felidae family, which also includes tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, and cheetahs. Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids with strong, flexible bodies, sharp, retractable claws and sharp teeth, adapted to killing small prey. These loveable and gentle creatures are popular pets, mainly because of their easy companionship, but they have instinctive predatory skills and have killed many chickens. Even well-fed house cats still enjoy hunting. They are valued and sometimes kept exclusively for their hunting skills, especially on farms where they are used to keep rodent populations under control. But for a chicken keeper, their hunting instincts may be a problem. As given the opportunity, some cats, especially feral cats will eat chickens.
Cats are found over much of the world. Most are domesticated cats are kept as house pets and feral cats can be found in a wide range of environments, such as forests, grasslands, tundra, coastal areas, urban areas, agricultural land, scrublands, and wetlands. Cats and their feline cousins are also known to be highly territorial, often using their own scents or familiar surroundings to define the extent of their abode and will fight off fellow feline predators trespassing into their territory. Cats also love to perch and lie on elevated structures so they can stealthily pounce on their prey.
Method of kill
The cat's main predatory arsenal is it's sharp retractable claws, which it uses to pin it's prey down. With their canine teeth that are biologically suited for tearing flesh, cats often attack their prey’s neck, delivering a lethal bite that immobilizes the prey and severs the spine to cause irreversible paralysis and eventual death. However, cats are known to size up their prey. In fact, most cats often spare whole chickens, especially roosters and large hens who are known to fend for their lives with their own sharp pecking beaks and claws. Chicks and smaller hens, on the other hand, are easy pickings.
Prevention and Treatment
Just like many dog breeds that can be trained to herd and guard your fowl, pet cats who have been trained to recognize chickens as fellow pets can co-exist peacefully with your flock and even ward off predatory stray cats. If your cats have not seen chicks before it will be better to keep the chicks in a secure, cat proof brooder To protect your older chickens, keep them in a secure coop and run and make sure you erect proper fences. Especially if you are aware of other cats in the neighborhood that may be a problem. If you want your chickens to roam over a large space, use barb wire picket fences. Tall hedges with thick lower growth can also do the job. At night keep the chickens in a secure coop. Keep any windows covered with a strong mesh or hardware cloth.
For more information and discussions on cats and how to protect your flock please visit the Predators and Pests section of the forum.