Chicks and Cats...

Morgan7782

Dense Egg Goo
9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
2,013
95
201
Sacramento CA
Alright, here is the deal. I have two 10 week old chicks, one is a Barred Rock one is an EE, both pullets.

I have a year old cat who has shown a LOT of interest in them since I brought them home. Occasionally I will let the cat out when the chicks are in the run to expose him to them and cut off a little of his prey drive. Most of the time he is shut in my bedroom though, poor guy.

My question is: WHEN can I have them free ranging and have the cat outside as well? He is an outdoor cat normally, but I've been keeping him inside until evening when the girls are in their Fort Knox coop.

How old should my girls be before I let them meet for real? (I will be standing by with a hose ON just in case.) When they interact with the cat through the fence they totally go to pecking at him, but because of the fencing I think it is a disadvantage for the chicks. They have to stick their head through to peck him, and that's just spelling disaster to me.

Both my chicks are "ballsy". They chase birds, and even chase my pit bull away if he gets too close to their run. (territorial chicks!).

Anybody who has outside cats PLEASE respond with your own personal experiences! Thanks


(I have an older cat who is fine with chickens but for the LIFE of me I cannot remember how we introduced him to my chicks when I had chickens for the first time. It was about 5 years ago. I have a bad memory heh.)
 

NewHen

Songster
10 Years
Mar 16, 2010
336
6
161
Los Angeles
I think it's really dependent on the cat. We have lots of our neighbors' outdoor cats around and one of them keeps trying to find its way into the coop. I also was sitting outside, next to the chickens, and it dropped from the fence trying to snatch a 3 month old chicken. About a week ago, a cat raced across our yard and then we couldn't find a chicken. My crying five year old and I walked around the neighborhood looking for her or her remains. It turned out well, but I just got my chicken run up and feel much better. I had a kitten growing up and it was a crazy predator, killing rabbits, turtles, robins, gophers, its own size or larger. It seemed to prefer hunting than living a comfy life with cat food. Even though we're in the city, we had a hawk swoop in already too.
 

DragonEggs

Songster
9 Years
May 11, 2010
1,002
29
179
Borger, TX
It really does depend on the cat. Some have REALLY STRONG hunting instincts while some could care less (haviing a cat fixed sometimes helps this).

I have (well HAD, one was hit by a car the other day) 2 cats, one primarily outdoors, one primarily indoors but goes outside occasionally. My mainly indoor cat has been around my chicks while brooding and doesnt ever bother them while I have them inside. Shes more fascinated by my gerbils but has never tried to hurt them, however, when I let my birds free range for a few hours while carefully supervised by me, I've caught her practicing her stalking on them. She's never actually tried to pounce and always turns away at the last second (some kind of game to her maybe) but I still wouldn't trust her.

The other cat who was hit was outside all the time and would just lay in the grass and sleep while chickens pecked around him. He couldnt care less about them.

Keeping your cat well fed with an outdoor cat formula can sometimes stifle the hunting instinct.
 

gryeyes

Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
15,506
384
358
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
I have four cats, 2 totally outdoors by THEIR choice and two who are inside/outside cats. NONE of them bother my chickens. I never let them interact with the chicks in the brooder because I thought that would be cruel (to cats and chicks). All four of my cats are hunters, and each have caught birds, as well as rodents.

The cats spent some time watching the chickens when they were put outside. They sat right on the other side of the run fence and stared intently at the chickens. Curious chickens would approach the run fence and watch right back. Eventually, each cat got his or her nose pecked right through the fence!

After that point, none of 'em sat that close to the fence again. Now the original chickens are full-sized and none of the cats care at all about them. One of my inside/outside cats likes to go into the run to get on top of part of a coop with a flat roof and sleep there. Yesterday afternoon, whilst everyone was free-ranging, she wandered into the run to do just that, and one of the pullets had just laid an egg in a coop and was exiting. She chased the cat right out of the run.

The rest of the time, everybody wanders around in the back yard together. The cats have started sleeping up higher, because curious chickens will peck at them when they find a cat asleep on the ground in the sun.

The inside/outside cats are not young, but they do still hunt. They just don't hunt the chickens. Oh, and they're all spayed or neutered.
 

Morgan7782

Dense Egg Goo
9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
2,013
95
201
Sacramento CA
Yep, both my boy cats are neutered, no way I am adding MORE cats to the world lol. Both my cats are hunters as well, bringing things home such as rats, birds and such.

The younger cat has been pecked by Joon a few times, and he rolls around outside the run fencing, acting gentle and playful but I know cats.. So I get worried. The hose works VERY well, so I think when I let them in the yard all together I will have that handy and the JET nozzle on.

My mom is constantly bothering me about letting the cat outside, and I am getting frustated that she won't listen to my boundries. I have to go now, but will add later and explain a bit more. Thanks for the info all.
 

aka Rachel

Songster
10 Years
Sep 15, 2009
312
0
119
Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada
My mama hen and the rooster protected my then 6 week old pullets, however, I wouldn't trust my cat around any not yet full grown standard chickens without that protection. I don't know if he would carry out the attack, but he sure does stalk them sometimes.

Edited to add that my cat is neutered as well.
 
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ElioraImmanuel

Songster
10 Years
Jan 8, 2010
253
2
121
44428
Not to hijack, but does anyone have free-ranging chickens and cats? What about strays? We're in the country. When can the chicken fend for themselves? Would a roo help?

We plan to have cats for rat/mouse control.
 

NewHen

Songster
10 Years
Mar 16, 2010
336
6
161
Los Angeles
I think if you free range, you have to be okay taking the risks of losing birds to predators. I live in Los Angeles in a suburb and in addition to cats, we have raccoons, skunks, hawks, etc. If I lived in the country, I would totally free range and keep roosters.

Quote:
 

Morgan7782

Dense Egg Goo
9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
2,013
95
201
Sacramento CA
Thank you all for answering. I think what I will do when I let the chickens out when the younger cat is out, I will stand nearby with a hose ready. Our backyard is not real big, and I think they will be able to live in harmony. If not.. Well we will cross that bridge when we come to it. My cat is still young, so hopefully with a few shots of the hose he will learn to not bother the chickens.

I am thinking of doing this next week when my chicks are 11 weeks old. If I am right there I don't think he would do any harm, especially with the hose nearby as well. But I do need to introduce them at some point, can't have my poor cat locked up constantly.

He was a brat with the chicks when they were inside too, but now I think these two girls are not as helpless as they were when a few days or a week old. Hopefully all will go well.
 

gryeyes

Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
15,506
384
358
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
Quote:I free range on the weekends and when I get home from work at night. I'm NOT always outside with them. Right now they only range in the back yard (which is pretty large, I think) even though I leave a gate open to the one-third acre just east of my house & yard.

I think a rooster MIGHT help with cats... Mine is pretty vigilant. He'll follow my cats at a distance, warily. They've never harmed any of the chickens, but the rooster keeps an eye on 'em.
 

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