Unlike many other animals that we keep as pets, chickens are often able to cope relatively well with dogs and cats. Although larger pets can terrify smaller animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, with proper introductions and monitoring, your other pets’ relationships with chickens isn’t likely to be as fraught. Chickens can be very feisty animals, and the larger varieties are unlikely to fight with cats.
Be careful when introducing your chickens to other pets
Whilst chickens may have less of a problem with cats and dogs than other pets, there are still a few things it is important for chicken owners to bear in mind. Firstly, it’s important to understand that, whilst chickens will cope better with cats and dogs, this trend varies both by breed and by individual chicken. For example, some smaller breeds may be a little more vulnerable, whilst larger breeds are less likely to be at risk.
Another important thing to remember is that introductions should be attempted gradually over the course of a few weeks. For the first few weeks of your chickens being in your home, it’s best to keep the other pets away, so that your chooks can settle in comfortably and without the stress of having larger animals nearby. When the time does finally come, at a point at which your pets feel settled and relaxed, you will need to be around to supervise – you need to be able to step in if your dog or cat makes any sudden movements towards your chickens.
Obviously, you know your dog better than we do, but it’s wise to be aware that even the friendliest of dogs or cats can do a chicken quite a lot of damage - even if they’re just intending to play! Introduce your pets while the cat or dog is on a lead. Your pet will likely try to smell your new chooks to try to understand them. Once you’ve introduced your pet to your new flock, separate them, and then introduce them again the following day. This time, secure all your chickens in your run and make sure your pet cannot attack them. Let your pet off its lead, and take one chicken out of the run. Carefully show it to your pet, and allow it to sniff it. If at any point your pet lunges for or tries to attack the chicken, then you will unfortunately need to keep your chickens in their run for their own protection. At this point, you may want to invest in run extenders to give your chooks more space.
Having cats and dogs around can sometimes make the course of hen ownership run a little more smoothly. For example, cats can deter the unwanted rodent visitors that are likely to be interested in your flock, their eggs and their feed. Some chook owners suggest that their dog’s scent in their garden deters some would-be predators, such as foxes.