Raising Chickens

Do Cats And Chickens Get Along?

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

We are all big animal lovers here at Chicken Fans, so we understand the need to shelter and raise as many animals as you possibly can. But keeping various animals together to live in total harmony is a myth. Some breeds don’t get along, or worse, they could kill each other while fighting over their territory or simply following their instinct.

Before introducing new animal breeds on your property, better to be safe than sorry and make sure they’re a good match.

Can you keep chickens when you have a cat?

As adult chickens and cats are nearly the same sizes, chances are they’re not going to be significant issues introducing them to each other. We all know cats are carnivores and hunters, but they prefer smaller prey such as mice, rats, or small rabbits. A full-grown chicken is too big for cats to bother with, and both hens and roosters can be pretty feisty when defending themselves.

But be careful placing cats in the proximity of chicks.

a cat close to a chicken coop

Chicks are much smaller and defenseless, so they are an easy target to all kinds of predators, even house cats. Never leave chicks unattended while your pet cat (or dog) is in the area, as they might be mistaken for a tasty lunch. All it takes is one hungry cat in hunting mode. When raising baby chicks, you have to be careful to keep them safe at all times and don’t let them go outside too early. Consult our ‘Chick Raising Guide’ when in doubt.

Can Cats And Chickens be friends?

It’s no problem to keep chickens and cats in the same garden after introducing them properly. But that doesn’t mean they’ll get along or become friends. Like all animals, it depends on their personality. Realize that chickens and cats probably won’t get further than ‘acceptance’ or ‘tolerance’ to each other. Both animals sleeping and cuddling up next to each other can happen, but it’s not that common.

How to introduce cats to chickens?

Whether you had your chickens first and decided to have a cat afterward or the other way around doesn’t matter. Introducing new pet members is always exciting. But, in the case of cats and chickens, it’s not important which animal came first.

Install a fence (at least 6 feet high) to keep your chickens safe and ensure your cats can’t come inside the chicken run. At least not at first. If you want to free-range your chickens, do it after they get to know other pet animals to prevent stressful encounters.

cats and chickens

We’ll guide you through the most common steps in the process. But depending on the character of your pet cat or backyard chickens, you maybe won’t have to go through every step of the way.

  1. Install (temporary) fencing. Let your pets get to know each other without any risk of being attacked. Keep the fencing until you notice they tolerate or even ignore each other. If you want to free-range your chickens, keep the fence for a couple of weeks to be sure.
  2. Don’t rush or force things. They will probably tolerate each other soon, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be best friends. And that’s ok. Cats and chickens are nothing alike, and although they can live harmoniously together, they haven’t got much in common to make them like each other.
  3. Supervise their first encounters. Even if there is a fence between them, keep a close eye. When animals feel stressed, it can cause health issues or behavior problems. There’s no need to keep them together when it’s not working out.
  4. Extend the period of being together. When things go well, and they probably will, keep them in each others sight for a more extended period to get used to one another.
  5. Free-range or unsupervised meetings after everything seems peaceful. After some time, you’ll notice it’s unnecessary to constantly keep an eye on your chickens as they meet your pet cat. This is the moment where you can let them do their thing without keeping a lookout or try to let your chickens free range for the first time in the proximity of your pets. In the second case, supervision is required, but chances are slim things will go wrong.

Will cats protect chickens?

If your cat still has a strong hunting instinct, she’ll likely keep small predators (like rats) away from the chicken coop. Or they chase away birds that feed on your chicken food and bring diseases.

Don’t expect too much from domesticated housecats as their hunting skills never fully developed.

To sum up

Yes, you can keep both cats and chickens perfectly, even when free-ranging. They’ll probably accept and tolerate each other very soon, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be BFFs. Take your time to introduce your cat to the chicken flock, using some wire to keep them apart at first. Don’t rush things, and they’ll be fine.

Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.