Would a feral/farm cat eat a chicken?

suzychappstick

Chirping
Jun 20, 2017
78
25
92
Last night we had an unfortunate event. After dark I went to call our dogs in and found them in the chicken run and coop. Apparently, there was a part of the fence that was once blocked by bales of straw (which deteriorated over the summer) not secured well to the ground. One chicken had been pulled from the coop and run, and about 80% eaten. Two more chickens lay dead, but not eaten, in the run where our bigger dog was. When I open the coop I found our 60 lb dog, 3 dead chickens and a feral/farm cat on ledge near the roof with some blood on its nose. Could it had been the cat that pulled the chicken outside the run and eaten 80% of it??? Besides this we had 2 other instances where our dogs got to the chicken and they only killed them not ate them. Or could we be dealing with a larger predator, besides our dogs, that ate the chicken?
 

Chicken Heel

Songster
Jun 8, 2019
530
1,537
161
Feral cats will definitely kill and eat chickens. I lost my favorite Buff Orpington hen to a starving one a couple of years ago. But in that case, I decided to rehabilitate the marauder. And I am thankful because Tom has turned into a big, ole fur ball of sweetness who with his queen, Esmeralda, has since sired Kit, Kat, Smooter and Pooter. They are my beautiful yellow cat family. And they are hell on mice, rats, moles, voles, snakes, etc.
 

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EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
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California's Redwood Coast
When I open the coop I found our 60 lb dog, 3 dead chickens and a feral/farm cat on ledge near the roof with some blood on its nose. Could it had been the cat that pulled the chicken outside the run and eaten 80% of it??? Besides this we had 2 other instances where our dogs got to the chicken and they only killed them not ate them. Or could we be dealing with a larger predator, besides our dogs, that ate the chicken?
Cats don't kill multiples at a time.. when they are hungry.. And they don't "play" with sitting targets.

Suspect is your dogs or another predator... raccoon, maybe fox, weasel family.

No a feral cat cannot eat 80% of a chicken at one time IMO, their stomach isn't that big.. and the cat was likely just scavenging the carcass. I dispatch chickens and leave out form my feral barn cat.. it usually takes 3 days for the most everything to be consumed. They have dragged them under nearby vehicles or covering of sorts.. meaning not eaten right out in the open.. but that could vary by individual.

Now, I trapped and fixed my barn cats.. I also feed them cat food EVERY day.. They are still hell on rats, shrews, squirrel, etc.. The reason I allow them to stay. And one even found a mallard nesting here I didn't know about until I saw it fly away and the unharmed ducklings scatter. Torti never harmed the mum sitting for almost a month, but went after duckling the day they hatched. Now while cats are *more* likely to go after prey that is smaller than them and my chickens stick their tongue out when they walk past the cats.. 100% a feral cat is capable of taking down a grown chickens and depends on a lot of things. I' very sorry for your losses! :hugs

A well fed cat has plenty of energy to hunt.. plus if an animal is gonna stay here.. they need to be healthy. Before I was able to trap and fix the feral mama gave birth to her kittens INSIDE one of my lay boxes while I was out of town and had someone tending the coop door. None of my birds have ever been harmed by feral cats, YET.. Since I keep chickens the service they perform is valued. But I also DON'T let my guard down.. When that mama had gone to show her kids the hood.. I didn't realize she'd be back so adopted 2 more feral kitties.. but she showed back up so we tamed the 2 new boys who hunt gopher holes with my dogs and unfortunately reap their share of havoc on the song bird population as well.. Now I have 4 hunter cats.. rats are vicious and fight back.. standard domestic cats are LESS effective.

Domestic dogs are a number one predator to chickens. Many predators have certain MO.. that help us identify them. Some pile their kills in a stack, while others leave victims strewn everywhere. Some eat the heads off, while others eat the breast for example. A few common predators just for mention.. skunk, opossum, hawk, owl, raccoon, ermine, even rats! Posting photos of the entry site, how the bodies were left, etc might give clues. Consider adding your general location to your profile as that sometimes helps folks make their best suggestions possible at a glance.

Again.. this may be an instance of more than one marauder/scavenger.. My dogs also only killed but never ate anything they caught previously and also never had a drop of blood on them.. despite me seeing the (stray cat) kill(s). However, just this year.. one of my dogs (8-9 years old) DID figure out that the gophers she catches must be tasty inside.. Maybe she was given long enough to play with it.. I always reward her, praise her (for catching gophers), and used to take them away but she enjoys skinning toys so much I thought see what happens. . Once she learned how tasty the insides are.. now she has to run away from the chickens that also think blood, meat, guts.. is delicious. The dogs, chickens, and pigs ALL know the other is competition for food and gets treats from me.. The pigs aren't fond of gopher parts but still cone to see what the excitement is all about. :sick

One more thought.. sorry so long! I have many of the predators listed above.. however, most all of them avoid my dogs.. My dogs play a huge role in keeping other predators at bay. This is their turf.. make no mistake! Training and AGE.. heavily impact dog behavior. Younger dogs must be set up for success.. Noting hay is insufficient to keep ANY predator out.. hopefully you can get that area shored up a bit better. :fl

ETA: the feral cat did get one of the ducklings. one of my dogs got another, and the two that were left failed in my care. :(
 
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CluckerFamily

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
5,838
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Wisconsin
I'm wondering if there were more culprits. Maybe another predator killed the chickens and starting eating one, when it left a cat started eating, and the dogs came in to interrupt everything. If you have a trail camera, you may want to put it up to see if any predators return.
 

WhatTheDuckingDuck

🪐Lost in space🪐
Premium Feather Member
Apr 21, 2020
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West River South Dakota
Feral cats won’t kill chickens. If you have a feral cat trap, neuter and release. Provide it shelter and food. It will keep rodents from being a problem. It’s the good human thing to do.
Wrong. A feral cat killed over a dozen of my chickens. My house cats hunt the chickens if I give them the chance.

It’s in a cat’s nature to hunt/kill
It’s a game of chance if you keep that cat around. If it has killed before, it will kill again.
 

Pye Wacket

In the Brooder
Nov 13, 2020
44
85
40
While I wouldn't have let any of my dogs around my chickens EVEN IF SUPERVISED (except my border collie mix, and then only supervised), I never had a dog try to chew through the field fence I used for chicken run/yard. Not to say other dogs wouldn't do that. I may have been lucky. In fact my American Eskimo Dog and my border collie mix used to sleep under the coop at night to help keep predators away. Chickens were securely bedded down before I would give the dogs access.

Yes, a cat will kill and eat a full grown chicken. I don't know how long it would take to eat 80% of a chicken (sort of depends on the size of the chicken for one thing) but a hungry feral full grown cat surely could and would have eaten the majority of the carcass given enough time, like overnight. Also consider that a chicken always looks smaller dead than alive (you can't fluff your feathers out when you're dead) so ... you may be overestimating how much was eaten.

If a cat or weasel or similarly sized animal did it I would expect to see most of the scavenging starting from the belly. Because intestines and organ meats are yummy to predators and the size of the jaw matters. Smaller jaws, more likely to scoop out the innards first. Larger jaws, more likely to take bites out of the whole bird and rip it apart rather than targeting the belly.

If a medium to large dog did it I would expect to see more dispersed damage and things like wings torn off (I've seen coyotes grab a bird carcass by the wing and shake the shit out of it, I assume a dog large enough could/would do the same thing).

There's probably no telling who actually killed the bird, nor who might have been munching it. As others have noted, there may have been more than one type of predator involved. I'd just fix the fence and keep up with fence maintenance. You might want to fortify your coop to keep predators out of the coop at night should one get through your fence again. Personally I put hardware cloth under the floor and about a foot up the sides under the siding (I build my coops with the floor suspended about waist high on me and I'm short).

It might not totally keep predators out but it ought to slow them down enough for your dogs to notice and make a racket. Since mine slept under the coop at night, I never had a predator get close enough to try.
 

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