Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Kitten hunting hens  (Read 182 times)


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Fife
    • North Fife Blog
Kitten hunting hens
« on: September 16, 2020, 05:25:51 pm »
Our neighbour has a new kitten. He’s 3 months and upon exploring started hunting my free ranging hens. We just only ever had older cats (only one semi-feral tried that and was returned to where she came from the next day), we never dealt with a kitten. Now my birds are all sort of pets, especially the elderly and vulnerable ducks and I can’t babysit them all day so they don’t get hurt. Will he outgrow that or will that stay an ingrained instinct? How do those of you with feral cats/kittens deal with that?


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 07:43:13 pm »
Highly unlikely that the kitten will grow out of such a basic instinct. I have a collie pup who from about 6 months old has stalked and eaten garden birds - mainly young pigeons which are a bit dopey. But she recently caught and killed one of my young peafowl. She is now a year old, and I won't ever trust her. But dogs are easy to shut out out of an area, whereas cats will climb fences. The thing is - will you ever be able to trust this cat? I certainly wouldn't and I feel your concerns. Especially as presumably your neighbour is attached to this kitten, which makes the solution even more complicated.   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Nov 2017
  • Morayshire
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 09:04:16 pm »
Never trust a cat at all. Their instinct is to hunt.

I know what i'd do but it isn't something to be mentioned here. But i'd let your neighbour know about what the cat  is up to.
I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies. This is me!


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 01:32:02 am »
If you have some time to spend then sit in wait with a water pistol.  Cats hate water pistols and with enough repeats they can be deterred - let your neighbour know you will be doing this and that it will not hurt the cat.
It's worth a try but as others say, a cat's instinct is to hunt.
I think you can fence against a cat climbing by using a slightly floppy fence such as plastic or nylon mesh which is taut at the bottom so the birds don't get entangled, but loose higher up so the cat cannot climb it. I haven't tried this but have read about it.
Otherwise you will need to fence the whole area with a top covering and your poultry can no longer be free range.  I know I would hate to have to do that.

Our last cat died 6 years ago but the hens had her well under control by pecking her whenever she came near, right on the nose.  They did the same with the little terriers which were smaller than the hens, and they soon learnt to steer clear.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2020, 03:21:35 am »
I've never known a cat be a match for a full size hen but I have had a semi-feral farm cat take a younger bird when it was foraging away from the rest of the flock. 

Most of my cats have been hunters and all of them have been quickly taught by the hens that they need to look elsewhere.  In fact I saw my one cat give up a mouse he'd caught when the hens made it clear they wanted it!  This was a cat who took on a pheasant once (it was too big for him and got away). 

So yes, in general, hens are more than a match for a regular cat, even a hunting cat.  But if younger or weaker birds roam away on their own away from the rest of the flock, they could be vulnerable yes.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 06:00:31 am »
My experience is the same as Sally. I have had lost of ferral and semi-ferral cats who need to pass through the chicken run (1/3 acre) to access their house. Initially they are very interested in the hens, they have never rushed at them but they do watch them. After a few weeks that stops and they are scared of them and tend to dash through he run. I think the hens have probably told the cats off at some point. I've always been wary of letting poults out, but fingers crossed the cats seem to recognise them as hens and leave them alone


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2020, 08:35:01 am »
I too have had good hunting cats that have never touched a hen - they might have had  a look, but were well warned off. The water pistol might be a good idea though as a back up.


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2020, 09:27:07 am »
Talk to your neighbour and get the issue in the open. I like FW's comment about a water pistol or maybe some big, scary version of a chicken to frighten it.

There will always be the rogue cat but most don't bother backyard poultry. When it gets bigger it could be useful keeping you vermin free.


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 06:46:07 pm »
Well as a child, I remember seeing one of our pet hens carried off by a cat. Fortunately my mother saw it, shouted, and the cat dropped the hen. We then made the hen run cat proof; which you can't do with free ranging birds. I also remember the poor bird sitting shivering in the nest box for 3 days. 

However, to deter dogs from chasing poultry, I've found it quite successful to wait till you have a broody with chicks. Then bring the dog up to meet her (under supervision).  After a frenzied attack by a paranoid mother hen, the dog is not usually willing to repeat the process. Only dog this hasn't worked on (yet) is my present one, because we haven't had a suitable broody since she was born last year. I assume this would work for cats as well; but we don't get them in our garden because of the dog. That might actually be another strategy to deter the hunting kitten. 
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Kitten hunting hens
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 08:31:34 pm »
Same as the others, my cats have been hunters but not touched the hens. 

My latest addition from Cats Protection, is 14, fat, lazy and not yet outside, in addition, most of the time my hens are in a secure run, or their extended one which is chicken wire attached to posts; and will soon be fixed to boards at the bottom to stop Missy dog getting in, which she did as soon as the guy had left, and plucked one of my wyandottes; and wobbly at the top, which hopefully will deter Nikki cat from trying
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


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