I have had my babies for three days, I keep them in a predator-proof brooder. At night I lock my cat in with my daughter and the dogs in my bedroom with me. This morning I woke up and found my cat lounging on the bean bag chair my daughter left in front of the brooder last night, watching my chicks. My cat pulled the floor vent up and went through the vent and came up in the livingroom. She has done this before, so I put a box of legos (heavy!) on top of the vent. She moved the legos and got to the vent anyway.
I would keep them away, particularly for the sake of the bacteria cats can carry (I'm not being mean, I'm a cat person, we have atleast three at any given time) my mom got bit by a cat and her arm swelled up like a balloon and the Dr said the only thing worse than a cat bite is a human bite. Not sure if I should be offended
Out of our three cats, one is old and just has no use for the chickens or chicks, she wanders out with them when they free range. Our two barn kittens also have no use for stalking or catching them, they're out laying in the middle of them while they free range and seem to be obvious to the fact that they should be chasing and eating them, but again, they were raised in these conditions. Our cats have also been known to roost with the chickens and curl up to sleep the night with our rabbit. We might just have a bad case of species confusions
But our dog on the other hand I have to take extreme precautions to keep him away from the chickens, rabbit, AND cats because he is an absolute terror and will, and almost has eat a fully grown chicken with no second thought and not a moments notice, it's awful. I would have thought he would have been the trustworthy one and the cats would have to be kept away. Animals, they just keep you guessing
my two cats would only watch my chickens and chicks. both cats are about 8 years old and very people-friendly, I think they understood that the chicks belong to me. I also have a golden retriever that could care less about my free range chickens. I can't believe how many people say that cats hurt their chicks. I guess I should consider myself lucky
My hens are fine with cats because they put the cat in its place. Getting pecked and a wing to the face is a good deterrent. I'd introduce the cat to adult chickens first so they understand that chickens are not to be messed with. Some cats still won't leave it be (like mine) but in that case you need to make sure your brooder is cat-proof. I used an XL plastic dog kennel and it works great. Chicks in, cats out.