Cat in the Coop

johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)October 13, 2008

I have 15 chickens in a pen in my barn. (They have access to outside during the day, but that's not relevant to my question!)

All summer the top of the Dutch barn door has stayed open for more air circulation in the barn.

Twice recently I've gone out to the barn to be startled by a cat jumping over the door to get out. This morning he came out of the chicken pen (the door doesn't close flush). I assume that the cat is looking for mice (there have been quite a few). That worries me because I had been putting down poison for the mice and I don't want to kill an innocent cat.

But more to the point, would an adult cat kill an adult chicken?

Thanks for your experience!


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Several years ago, we lost 15 chickens to two feral cats (one pregnant) over a period of about three weeks. (we re-located the cats and ended up with a litter of 4 kittens, two of which we still have and love dearly!)

Since the kittens were raised with the chickens, they got along fine and even took dust baths with the chickens and slept in the nest boxes. But --- with feral cats, watch out.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 8:34AM
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Chickens will catch and eat mice. Hewetta (26 Week old Cornish X) will catch them and gobble them down. Some of our chickens live in the greenhouse where there are extra pots of plants. Mice dig into the soil and nest in them. When they are watered mice go running and so do the chickens and the pheasants catching many of them. We don't use any poison for that reason. There are many live traps that work well. Then relocate them to a nice forest where they can be owl food.

I have never seen a cat take a grown chicken but have witnessed them taking chicks and ducklings. Be careful-the best thing and easiest for the cat problem fix the door so when it is closed they can't get in. The split top could have a second wooden framed door that is covered with welded wire to allow the air flow you want.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 9:54AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Thanks for the input. We just have a couple more hot days before the forecast says autumn is coming through, so I guess we'll start closing up the barn.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 6:49PM
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I have been lucky in that my cats haven't shown a big interest in getting into a fray with the chickens. I think they were intrigued when the birds were young but are now scared of them. I have an adolescent cat who is tiny and she slipped into the caged area the other day. She was trying to get to me, not the chickens. I feared for HER, not the chickens. I wouldn't doubt that a hungry feral might get desperate enough to try for a chicken and get it, with some luck. Lori

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Never had a problem with the cats getting the chickens when we had chickens. The chickens were always fenced, but the cats could get in (sometimes just came in with me when I went for eggs in the evening). Had to make sure the chicks were broiler size before we let them out or the cats would go after them.

Biggest problem was occasionally a cat would learn how to break an egg and eat it, then make a habit of it. A broken egg in the nest laced with hot pepper would usually cure that, though.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:12AM
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My fourteen year old Tom Cat (my barn cat) just discovered eggs. He has always gone in the coop with me when I do my chores in there, and yeah he was mousing. I always made sure he came back out, however, as I worried more for his safety than the chickens. He actually seemed leery of the birds too, and I have a couple of hens who would have no hesitation at attacking him.

I had eggs on my counter one day when the cat was in the house. Found one broken on the floor and thought he might have knocked it off. Well, a couple of days later, I found him up on the counter again, trying to break an egg open with his teeth! Dumb cat. LOL. I think the first time was an accident, but he knows now if the shell is broken, food comes out. Not so dumb cat.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 12:27AM
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vinnyc(7 LINY)

My chickens free range, and I've often seen cats in the yard when thye are out. The cats don't bother them. I've also seen the chickens catch and eat mice.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 12:04PM
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runningtrails maybe I should keep a few chickens in the basement this winter for mouse control!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:15PM
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tattoo7lady(zone 6)

My barn cat always goes with me into the hen house - just wants to check it all out I reckon! She's never bothered the chickens, and the chickens don't bother her. She usually walks thru the hen house, down the ramp, and into the pen. They all just look at each other! lol

It's funny, the chickens "recognize" the cats I have, and whenever they see a stray one, they start fussing. Maybe because they don't know the cat, and think it might harm them. I suppose a hungry stray (feral) cat just might do that. Agreeing with seramas, I would fix the door to allow the air flow you want, just to be on the safe side.

And there are other things out -in the daytime- that might try to jump in there sometime too. I live in a country/rural area, in the woods. We have foxes & coyotes which are out day AND night. And ya never know when a stray dog or a neighbors' dog might do the same.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 6:39AM
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My cats seem to have a healthy fear of the grown girls. I actually worry about one of my cats who follows me while I do chores. She is a sweet and curious gal and actually smaller than most of the chickens. I always make sure she comes out of the pen when I do because I'm nervous that the chickens will gang up on her, LOL. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure any of my cats would gobble up one of the chicks if left unattended. I have a somewhat crippled little one that I've kept in the house for several weeks. I take her out while I'm gardening and although she stays very close to me, she likes to stretch her wings and flutter about...all the invitation any of my cats need. Lori

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:17AM
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