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weird question - getting chickens to stop attacking cats?

 
Steve Hitchen
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Location: Yorksire - North England
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Hello all.

I have three chickens which generally free range. They are just average uk battery chickenns - all three are hens.

I live in an area with a lot of cats, and I am in general "Pro cat". I am also very much "Pro happy neighbours".

The neighbours are not especially happy at the moment as every time their cats, thinking cat like thoughts, decide to try and eat my chickens, the chickens proceed to batter the cat bloody. Cue screetching of cats, bleeding etc, with no effects on the chickens apart from a distinct look of arrogance about them.

You would think the cats would learn, but it would seem not. The neighbours think the whole thing is poor form and that they are not especially thrilled at their cats being giveen a slap by some pesky birds.

Does anyone have a similar issue? I don't want to keep them in a run - is there any magic method to bring peace, tranquility and happy neighbours to this situation?

Thanks

Steve
 
Ann Torrence
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Unless the chickens are leaving your property, I don't get it. Around here, dogs who menace chickens get shot. A kind neighbor waits until the second offense, but is perfectly within rights the first time it occurs. If the cats are getting close enough to get hurt, they are threatening your animals, probably disrupting egg-laying and otherwise nuisances.

Best defense being a good offense and all that. But really, I would not look kindly on my neighbors' animals bothering mine, and if my cat gets in a fight while roaming, I have to accept the consequences. Maybe things are different in the UK?
 
elle sagenev
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I can't imagine what your neighbors would think if they had cats come to my house. My dogs are pros at cat killing.

Really though, good on your chickens. Tell the neighbors to stop being idiots and keep their cats inside.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Ask your neighbor what they would have you do. Listen carefully to every thing they say. At the end, ask them if they are willing to hold their cat to the same standard/'punishment' the day you show up on their doorstep with a harassed or murdered chicken.

If that does not put an end to their nonsense, you are not dealing with rational people. Tell them to piss off and move on.

Make it clear that if they are talking about keeping the chickens on your property only, then the cat stays on theirs. If they want the chickens penned up, then gladly offer to help build the feline penitentiary. If the chickens 'need to go' then instruct them to lovingly kiss their cat good bye. Their rights and demands have no merit to supersede yours, especially on your own property.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Ha! The rough and tumble American West sure weighed in on this one.... Praise the chickens. Encourage them to continue the behavior.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Ha! The rough and tumble American West sure weighed in on this one.... Praise the chickens. Encourage them to continue the behavior.


Actually I believe all that has been offered here is based on Common Law, which was founded in England after the Magna Carte was signed. That has been a while. Perhaps their neighbors have forgotten.
 
William Bronson
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When I get chickens, I hope they are just as tough as these ladies!

 
Meryt Helmer
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I used to have a back yard with some birds that would harass my cat regularly. They where probably black birds. My cat was smart and learned to avoid their area. I am wondering if the cat keeps doing this over and over if there may be some neurological problem with the cat? Every cat I have ever had (I have had many and almost all lived to be around 20 years of age) learns pretty fast that you avoid things like this and don't keep going after them. I think if I was you I would kindly suggest they take the cat to the vet and ask for a checkup including possible scan for brain tumors. I sound like I am joking but I am actually serious and if my cat was acting this irrational and having this much trouble learning to leave the chickens alone this is what I would do along with keeping my cat inside the house or building an outside enclosure that would keep my cats out of trouble.

I adore cats and if this cat's people love it as much as they seem to want you to believe they love it they should be doing more for it. If it is not your chickens it will be something else. The cat obviously does not have the right skills or knowledge to be allowed outside.
 
Steve Hitchen
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Woah - hang on guys 'n' gals.

Not sure whether there is a UK/US breakdown in communication here, but much of these seems a little extreme.

To reiterate - I am pro-cat. I do not mind cats, have had cats before and will be getting another cat soon. Knowing that the chickens will look after themselves means I'm not worried about my future cat eating them.


Also - I am pro-neighbour. Living in the UK, we have small gardens and lots of neighbours close by - ultimately, annoyed neighbours last for years, so it's better to not annoy them, as you're stuck with them for a long time.

It also doesn't seem especially "permie" to shoot the cats - they are after all part of the eco-system right?
 
Thomas Partridge
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Steve Hitchen wrote:

It also doesn't seem especially "permie" to shoot the cats - they are after all part of the eco-system right?


That is sort of arguable the way I understand things. Cats can be added to a system and become part of the system, but your neighbor's pet cats do not automatically become part of the system. They are, after all not feral and receive their food and water from their owners. Ultimately it is their owner's responsibility to make sure they are taken care of and protected.

I understand where you are coming from though, it sounds like your situation is akin to what we would consider apartment living culturally speaking. In apartment living sometimes you have to be the bigger person and take the shorter end of the stick in the situation because the boundaries between you and your neighbor are much smaller. The issue is that you can't really train chickens not to defend themselves against perceived predators. If you truly wish to keep the chickens and prevent them from attacking the cats, I am sad to say you will need to keep them in a secure coop and run which will keep the cats and chickens from interacting. It isn't the optimal solution, but it is a solution that will work given your parameters of 1) Not angering the neighbors and 2) Not getting rid of the chickens.
 
chip sanft
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Steve Hitchen wrote:Woah - hang on guys 'n' gals.
... It also doesn't seem especially "permie" to shoot the cats - they are after all part of the eco-system right?


I don't think the suggestion was (in most cases) to shoot the cats as much as to let the chickens defend themselves.

You want to avoid unhappy neighbors and I understand that. That desire is precisely the reason I don't get too obviously excited about our neighbor's free-ranging cats getting into our yard and killing our anti-slug defensive forces (i.e., small snakes) and smelling up the place with urine etc. etc. In the city shooting guns is ... not permitted ... so some people use live traps and call the animal control officers to come get the offender. But that leads to real unhappiness, as I have observed (from a distance). So I understand your conundrum.

It seems unlikely you'll be able to change your chickens' behavior, as it's plain defense. And unless a cat wants to change, changing its behavior seems unlikely, too. It seems like even the least intelligent cat is eventually going to pick up on the fact that chickens = trouble. Of course you could try orange oil, and I've seen people fill empty PET bottles with water and stand them where they don't want cats to go. I doubt the efficacy of these things.

In the meantime I'd second the suggestion of talking with your neighbors. After all, it's their cat who is (presumably) going to your chickens and stirring up the trouble. If they're responsible and reasonable, they also should realize that the cat is the problem. And if you ask them what they'd like to do about the situation, they'll at least know you're concerned, which can help alleviate unhappiness. And maybe they'll have an idea.
 
Pia Jensen
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chicken wire strung along the top of the fence? block all points of access. get a dog.
 
Meryt Helmer
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I agree with all of this. this is why I am worried about the cat in question actually and think you should gently talk to the cats people about the cat being kept safe. from what you describe I am honestly worried that if it is not your chickens it will be something else. This cat sounds like it really does not seem to know how to be safe outside. I have a cat I keep indoors because he is so friendly and where I live is near a hiking trail. My neighbors told me that some hikers thought my little cat had been abandoned and where going to take him home with them! He is an indoor cat for now since he removes collars and wants to love everyone he sees so much and thinks he is big enough to take on dogs. My dog at home will only bark or growl if he goes to bat at her face but not all dogs would be so safe around him. I really think the cat in question should be kept safe. I think the cats people have that responsibility to the cat. I doubt you can get them to see it this way though in which case I guess what others have suggested. fencing that would make it harder for the cat to get on your property (the cats owners should pay for that) and possibly a dog but this cat may just walk right up to a dog.

People really need to understand that when you have a pet you are that animals guardian and it depends on you and you have an obligation and responsibility to keep it safe and make sure it feels loved and is well cared for. It sounds like this cat's people don't quiet grasp that they are failing their cat.

Steve Hitchen wrote:Woah - hang on guys 'n' gals.

Not sure whether there is a UK/US breakdown in communication here, but much of these seems a little extreme.

To reiterate - I am pro-cat. I do not mind cats, have had cats before and will be getting another cat soon. Knowing that the chickens will look after themselves means I'm not worried about my future cat eating them.


Also - I am pro-neighbour. Living in the UK, we have small gardens and lots of neighbours close by - ultimately, annoyed neighbours last for years, so it's better to not annoy them, as you're stuck with them for a long time.

It also doesn't seem especially "permie" to shoot the cats - they are after all part of the eco-system right?
 
chad Christopher
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Plant some catnip, somewhere away from the coop, make a Hansel and gretel trail of catnip flower to the patch. Tired cats and dogs are happy animals. Maybe put some old cardboard tube or something they can hide in. Sounds like they are bored and spiteful. Or maybe are just seeking shelter. A cat could easily kill a hen, so they are just playing. Create a stimulating environment, and who knows, they may become a valuable live stock guardian cat.

Also, who was there first? Cat or chix? And for how long?
 
Ann Torrence
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Steve Hitchen wrote:
Also - I am pro-neighbour. Living in the UK, we have small gardens and lots of neighbours close by - ultimately, annoyed neighbours last for years, so it's better to not annoy them, as you're stuck with them for a long time.

It also doesn't seem especially "permie" to shoot the cats - they are after all part of the eco-system right?


I wasn't advocating shooting cats, just making the point that the pet owner's right to get annoyed ends at their own fence.

If you want to discourage the cats, make the path into your yard more difficult than to go another direction. Barricade yourself in, basically. But ultimately, wandering cats will get into trouble and I don't see why you should be worrying more about what your neighbors think than what little they apparently think of the safety of your chickens. If the chickens are fighting cats, they don't feel safe.

If your neighbors' cats are encroaching on your property, how are you going to keep them from harassing a future cat of your own?
 
chad Christopher
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By Hansel and gretel trail, I mean, scattered catnip plants, to make them work, leading to a rewarding patch. You can use that trail, to train them to walk in any desired direction. Trust me, they will use it.
 
Meryt Helmer
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chad Christopher wrote:By Hansel and gretel trail, I mean, scattered catnip plants, to make them work, leading to a rewarding patch. You can use that trail, to train them to walk in any desired direction. Trust me, they will use it.


I don't want to hijack the thread but am wondering about advice for growing catnip. Every time I have tried to grow it my cats liked it so much they killed it all. rolling on it and nibbling it and well if it is in a planter and I have not planted it yet they play soccer with it.

I am planning to plant some in a cage to keep cats away from it so I can harvest some for my cats and keep my plant alive.

Do you have any tips on growing it with cats so they have access like you are describing? This sounds like such a great thing to do and like it would look so nice as well. I really want to try this.
 
chad Christopher
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Haha , yeah, I call catnip urban pest controll, all, the neighborhood cats come and roll in it. I just use milk crates with a brick on top, and once they seem big enough to be cat trampolined, I just rip the crate off, any loss is insignificant, give it 2 or so years and the patch will be strong enough to handle a flock of house cats.
 
Meryt Helmer
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chad Christopher wrote:Haha , yeah, I call catnip urban pest controll, all, the neighborhood cats come and roll in it. I just use milk crates with a brick on top, and once they seem big enough to be cat trampolined, I just rip the crate off, any loss is insignificant, give it 2 or so years and the patch will be strong enough to handle a flock of house cats.


awesome! that is basically what I am trying to do now with a patch. I just have never had a plant live long enough to get so big but I never protected it the way I am now. Glad to know that this should work for me
 
Hester Winterbourne
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There is definitely an attitude difference to cats between US and UK. In the UK, an owner is not responsible for their cats actions in law. Also, most UK cats have access to outdoors, either whenever they want, or let in and out, but once out they are free range. The US tendency (perceived?) to keeping cats in, declawing, etc, meets with some amazement and often disapproval here. Having said that, every time I read a thread like this and catch myself thinking "well, cats will be cats, they're not the same as dogs, you can't fence them in" I think heck, maybe we SHOULD have complete attitude shift and demand that people keep their cats in, and if they say their cat will go up the walls, they can't stop them slipping out when the door is opened etc, maybe they just shouldn't have cats. The greater worry in this country is that cats are thought to be a major player in small bird number decline.

On another garden forum I know, once people start suggesting "solutions" to the cat problem, threads get locked...

I think the cats will learn sooner or later. Cats in plural? Maybe this is happening only a couple of times to each cat, so it seems more often? In your situation, I would be fairly firm about it though, it's my garden, my chickens are in it, they can do what they want. If you had a dog, I think so far even in law you are not responsible if a cat comes in the garden and gets attacked.
 
Pia Jensen
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:The greater worry in this country is that cats are thought to be a major player in small bird number decline.


actually proven - and recommended: bells on collars (hopefully cat won't remove collar), and, yes, de-claw... a diet that keeps them from craving? (I have not researched that), paying attention,especially to egg setting and hatching...protecting nests... actively watching cats during baby bird times... ready to pounce.. lol ... protect the birds...
 
Meryt Helmer
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everyone I know in the united states (which is a very small percentage of the population) views de-clawing as barbaric and feels it should be outlawed. in fact most cat owners know refuse to even go to a vet that offers the service at all. same with ear clipping and tail docking for dogs although that seems to be very accepted by the majority of people and veterinarians here.
 
Stephanie Meyer
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I really cannot get over the neighbor having the nerve to complain about his trespassing cat getting beaten up by the pets it is trying to attack. Are the chickens supposed to be pacifists or non resistant? " Now be a good little chicken, and let the cat eat you!" It doesn't suprise me the cat is nuts, the neighbor sounds screwy too!
 
Zach Muller
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I have had a cat kill a few young hens. After coming home to seeing their dead bodies and feeling really discouraged by it I would actually not hesitate to shoot a cat if it were in my yard messing with other animals.

I do not own any guns though, so instead I just sick my dogs on them or throw things at them. I don't really like cats anyway and find them unsanitary and disgusting, so the less they touch my yard the better.

The U.S. And the UK do not sound that different cat wise. Around here Somehow cats are exempt from property and animal control laws, I have to keep my chickens and dogs contained at all times or else I can be cited by animal control. But not the cat owners, who let the cats roam all over all the time. They are Feeding them toxic kibbles and allowing them to spread their toxic poop.

I think it is being a considerate neighbor to control my animals, maybe a chicken goes over the fence once a year, dogs get out once every 5 years or so. It puts me in an awkward position when someone's stupid pet is killing my animals in my yard.

If any neighbor cat owner complained to me about their pet I would kindly let them know their cats are not really safe or welcome in my yard. So don't expect me not to kill them if they are killing anything in my yard. Control your pet if you don't like that outcome.


I have had to protect my hens from other predators too, including predators who are actually a wild part of the ecosystem. It's not particularly permie to kill a possum with a pitchfork, but these things happen. Sometimes it's either them or your animals.

I can't just go out an buy a new bloodline I have bred for years, so I protect it.
 
Pia Jensen
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Meryt Helmer wrote:everyone I know in the united states (which is a very small percentage of the population) views de-clawing as barbaric and feels it should be outlawed. in fact most cat owners know refuse to even go to a vet that offers the service at all. same with ear clipping and tail docking for dogs although that seems to be very accepted by the majority of people and veterinarians here.


I also think de-clawing is barbaric. Some people do do it and they keep their cats indoors. Bells are my preference. And, scratching posts
 
Meryt Helmer
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I am worried this is getting hijacked into being about cats and claws and bells but for what it is wok there are supposed to work better than bells for keeping birds safe and I bet they have little impact on cats catching rodents. I plan to make one or buy one at some point but I have to find a collar that is safe for my dats and that they would be unable to remove and that has yet to happen. http://www.birdsbesafe.com/pages/home
they look a bit like hair scrunchies and they have don a lot of tests to find the right colors and patterns so that they don't look like flowers and attract humming birds or any other birds.

I don' think it would do any good to keep a cat away from chickens though
 
Pia Jensen
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Meryt Helmer wrote:

I don' think it would do any good to keep a cat away from chickens though


makes me think - I've had cats and chickens - living fine together - maybe a guard cat for the birds is in order... "fight fire with fire" ...
 
Meryt Helmer
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I love this idea! also I think it has potential to work. I have done wome work with feral cat rescue groups and once a cat feels that a place is theirs they get territorial. you can't go put new feral cats in an established coloni so Original Poster, I am sorry I should look up your name. perhaps you can get some cats that will chase any other cat away from your yard and if they are your own cats I imagine you could also make it clear to them and teach them not to touch your chickens. I know my last landlord that kept chickens also had cats and while her cats where amazing hunters and where catching lizards and rodents constantly they never bothered her chickens at all. They did certainly chase away other cat's though.
Pia Jensen wrote:
Meryt Helmer wrote:

I don' think it would do any good to keep a cat away from chickens though


makes me think - I've had cats and chickens - living fine together - maybe a guard cat for the birds is in order... "fight fire with fire" ...
 
Pia Jensen
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Meryt Helmer wrote:cats where amazing hunters and where catching lizards and rodents constantly they never bothered her chickens at all. They did certainly chase away other cat's though.


Exactly! not sure I didn't get there more quickly... ah...I have not had my own cat in many years...
 
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