Scary Cat

There is a new cat in the neighbourhood. I have a bit of a love/hate thing going with cats these days and this new one is moving squarely into the hate category.

On the plus side, cats are sweet. Unfortunately their positives (IMHO) end there.

On the minus side, cats use vegetable beds as litter trays (focusing on newly planted beds), they kill (and sometimes eat) native fauna and they terrorise my chickens.

Sorry cats, the cons seriously outweigh the pros in my little patch of the world.

Back to the new cat. That nasty little piece of work keeps coming into our back garden. I’m honestly not sure if she’s stalking my chickens or if she is simply wandering into their space and scaring the living daylights out of them. I hear them squawking and I run down to chase the cat from my back yard and calm my birds. This has happened several times over the past 2 or 3 weeks.

Then, the day I posted light-heartedly about Isabel being afraid of passing birds, the squawking became screaming and flapping. I ran to the window clapping and yelling (letting the cat know who’s boss) to see Isabel and Rosie running up towards the house, the cat turning to pounce into the shrubs by the back fence, and Bronwyn nowhere to be seen. I ran to the back door shouting and got out in time to see Bronwyn flapping and screaming and escaping from the bushes where the cat pounced.

Did the cat just coincidentally turn from 2 flapping chickens and a maniacal woman to land on Bronwyn or was she going for it? I have no idea. Bronwyn and the other chooks definitely think the cat is hunting them.

I caught Bronwyn and checked her but found no marks from claws or teeth. I released her and pounded the bushes to make sure that horrid cat was gone. When I turned I saw all 3 chooks by my back door. I picked a kale leaf to feed them to distract them from their distress. Rosie and Isabel came to the bottom of my back stairs and ate it. Bronwyn sat panting with wings half out on my back stoop. I ripped the leaf and gave her a piece which she ate but she still wouldn’t move.

The 4 of us sat like that for about 1/2 hour until Frank got home. When I told him what happened, he went to the street behind ours and knocked on doors asking who owned the cat that was attacking our birds. No one confessed or even knew who owned the cat. Is it a stray? Were the owners out? Did the owners lie?

It took Bronwyn a good hour to calm down enough to leave my back stairs. I spent the whole time sitting near her talking softly, trying to reassure her.

The next day, all 3 of my chooks laid eggs like normal but they no longer scratch in delight along my back fence. Since the attack, they hang out all day in the top half of the garden. Clearly that little bit of paradise at the bottom of the garden is now populated with monsters and they are not interested in spending time there. They spend all their time near the house and seem most content on my back steps.

My 3 chickens feeling safe on the back steps

My 3 chickens feeling safe on the back steps

I hate that cat. I try not to hate all cats, but they are not just attacking my birds, they are really doing a number on all kinds of animals – natives and introduced. Even friendly little fat pets hunt for fun – it’s just their nature.

I’m not all that worried that my girls will be killed by a cat, stray or kept, but I know they can be terrified and I don’t like that one bit.

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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35 Responses to Scary Cat

  1. Seems like it is time to set a live trap and take kitty to the animal shelter. Especially if no one is claiming it. So sorry for the frustrating situation!

  2. poor you! we are surrounded by cats here!!! the chooks hate them but they make such a racket the cats are scared of them!!! I still run out though to check on them. (p.s how cute is that snap of your chooks!) xxxxxx

    • Yeah, my chooks have become even cuter and more clingy in their terror.

      We have a couple other cats that rarely come into our garden since we’ve gotten chickens. I think the chickens are noisy and flappy and scary – poor kitties. It’s just this one who is new who seems to be trying to set out her territory. She fights with our neighbour’s cat and is making a general nuisance of herself. I imagine she’s been moved in here and all the territories are already established. She probably thinks taking over the chickens’ space is easier than battling other cats.

      Like I say, I’m not a fan of cats any more.

  3. shadowlilies says:

    Love the picture of your chickens on the back steps. They look very comfy, safe and secure. 🙂

  4. Owning and managing chickens has its benefits, but it is like have many toddlers that need constant watching.

  5. My main gripe is that people do not feel in the slightest responsible for their cats. No-one would think it O.K. if a dog was coming into your garden although they would possibly cause less damage. People often keep more than one cat as they are easy to care for (?). We don’t have any pet birds but are extremely attached to our wild birds that come to feed in the garden. I protect my birds, and cats are never welcome. I have a humane ultra-sonic gun and a water hose.

  6. I like your thinking. I may look for one of those ultra-sonic guns. I really get so angry when people say, “oh cats are so hard to control” or smile and say “she only catches nasty old rats” or whatever. You can lock up your cats, I have friends who never let their cats outside and their cats are happy and the native fauna is doubly so. But there is 0 chance of legislation ever being passed to force owners to control cats so the wildlife really suffers and those of us who like wildlife and our own “pets” just are stuck living with it.

    • pattigail says:

      How traumatic! I hate it when things scare my girls…they are safe in their run but they don’t know it. We don’t have many outside cats here. We used to but between the road, the coyotes and the fisher cat, outside cats don’t last long. So most people keep their cats in. Merlin is an inside cat…and a coward. I was sure last spring he would see the baby chicks as prey but he was afraid of them. I hope you can sort this out so your girls can go back to happily scratching and pecking. Good luck. Patti

      • Thanks. They seem happy to scratch and peck up by the house but clearly they have lost all desire to go into the bottom of the garden. If that mean ol’ cat ever comes to the top of the garden so my girls have no sanctuary, then I’ll really be mad.

  7. Oh dear, does sound like you have a problem there. We have 2 cats and both ours leave our chickens alone completely, they are just not interested in them at all. funny that how some cats can differ so much from others. I hope you find out who owns it so that peace rules again soon.

    • Most cats do seem to leave chickens alone, but even just passing through is enough to startle my girls. I’m sure if there was a cat they spent a lot of time around they’d get use to it but it is the cruising nature of cats that causes at least 3 to just wander past (sometimes on the top of the fence, never actually setting foot in our garden) that keeps them scary to my girls. And, of course, they do kill so much of the wildlife that I really just wish they weren’t here at all!

      I suspect even if we found the owners of the cat and confronted them, we’d be told their cat never attacks or eats animals (most cat owners say this and have zero idea of the real damage caused by their pets) and we’d be helpless to actually do anything about it other than keep chasing the cat from our garden until it goes and kills elsewhere. I’m really frustrated by the whole thing.

  8. vuchickens says:

    Poor babies!!! This is one of the main reasons our cats will NEVER roam outside. And so far they are quite content to just chase and play with their toys indoors and cuddle with us. We do have a lot of neighborhood cats, but they mostly seem harmless, and our hens will just as likely chase them off as not, but there used to be one who would terrorize the street, and even attacked and seriously injured our neighbor’s dogs (a boxer and doberman, no less!) So I’m very glad that little monster moved away before we got our chickens. Trapping this one sounds like a good idea. 😦

    • Hooray for you!!!! You are the kind of cat owner I applaud. I have friends with the same attitude and their cats definitely do not suffer as they are kings of their realm and their owners dance at their command. It’s a win-win, cats are happy, owners get their cute little pets and all the other animals are left to survive. Well done, I wish more cat owners had your attitude.

  9. That is so sad. It is very difficult to keep cats. We had a black cat here last week that seemed to be stalking. My girls were very upset. I did the clapping and shouting and hissing thing. Hate it!

    • The poor chickens really don’t know that they can probably chase the cat off themselves, to them cats are a serious threat and terrifying. It’s just so wrong to have their little patch of the world invaded that way. But we can’t stop those stalking threats so we’re left with clapping, shouting and hissing 😦

  10. joepyeweed1 says:

    I have a bothersome cat or two that visit my garden, too. The biodiversity, that I have been trying hard to increase in my little yard, has been reduced as they become the chief predator.

    • EXACTLY!

      Owners of cats just don’t see it because they don’t have (and generally don’t care about) biodiversity in their own yard. It’s those of us trying to build a fauna friendly space who have to see the heartache of attracting critters only to watch them being wiped out. Sometimes I think the local animals would be better served if I made my garden a desert and they stayed away rather than making it attractive so they (or, more often, their young) get killed by one of the neighbourhood cats!

      I wish you and all the little animals you’re trying to encourage heaps of luck in this battle!

  11. Seasonsgirl says:

    Love the photo… great catch 🙂

  12. Linda says:

    Such a sweet picture! You’d think most cats would be afraid of the chickens! Many of my cats always have a fear of birds…especially large ones!
    I had a farm cat when I was a kid…talk about the ultimate killing machine! When she killed all the easy wildlife in our yard, she started to take on odd critters like frogs from the nearby creek. We’d try to put bells on her collar, but she just learned to walk without them making noise. Sneaky lil’ monsters! Lol. She was a farm cat though…and was never content inside the house. I have seen areas go both ways with cats…opposite of the damage my farm cat did, there are loads of ferals/outdoor cats/strays where my mom lives now, but the wildlife still seems to flourish. I know the destruction caused by cats is greater in Australia though, since so much of the wildlife isn’t adapted to such predators.

    • We have a lot of small, ground-dwelling animals; birds and marsupials like my local bandicoot, that have no protection from cats at all. Cats have really done a number on these little natives. Especially feral cats. There is a lot of work being done to eradicate feral cats – but they’re too clever to eat bait like foxes do. And bells (as you’ve experienced) just don’t work for domestic cats. There is a small but strident voice in Australia calling for the removal of all cats. It would be wonderful for the wildlife but just isn’t ever going to happen. We’re left putting fingers in the dyke and watching the environment lose some pretty amazing creatures.

      • Linda says:

        Definitely no solution when it comes to the killing veracity of a cat! I’ve even seen declawed cats successfully kill prey…highly adaptable they are!

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  14. We have three big fat ones that patrol around the fields and make their way into our gardens. There is definitely no love lost between us, not especially after I saw one pounce upon a pigeon as if it had just flounced upon a pillow. I think they, the fox and the sparrowhawk see our yard as a bit of a smorgasbord!

    • Somehow the fox and sparrohawk I don’t mind – they were there naturally. But animals we introduce who kill are what bother me. Nature has nothing to do with that. Well, it’s the nature of cats to kill, of course, but it must upset the natural balance since they were introduced. As if driving cars over top of everything wasn’t bad enough, we move in natural born killers!

      • I totally agree. It is in the nature of cats to kill for food. But domesticated cats do it for the hell of it as they are already amply well-fed.

        • Yep, it’s fun. How creepy is that! Serial killers we allow in our homes – eeewww. That said, I do love a sweet cat who sits and purrs while you stroke him, I just always remember what he does when he’s not purring on my lap!

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