Due, in part, to our privacy fence progress being stalled in the post phase, we’re getting four-legged prowlers looking for a warm chicken dinner.
Neighborhood dogs sometimes find their way into our backyard after an afternoon of dining in stray garbage bags. Of course, we shoo them away, with no real means of protecting our chickens other than banging a door — adding to that no desire to pack any sort of weapon, either. It seems even the strays are well fed enough to leave and not return.
Enter, the stray cat, strutting into our yard, making it her own, as cats do. Two of our indoor cats are impervious to the fence-leaping feline — hopping the remaining chain link that our neighbors don’t want removed — but our cat Lily is a born huntress, territorial as such that she marks her territory on the inside of the house at the sight of our visitor, which is incidentally a pet-control problem to relate on a cat blog, I suppose.
Our flock is just over 3 months old, and without a rooster for guidance (as much as the feminist in me despises the thought of our girls needing a man), the chickens just don’t know how to defend themselves … yet. Even though each chicken — save for our half-blind Polish — is as large as the cat, they’re visibly alarmed by her presence.
My husband shoos her away immediately, but the last time she visited, I wanted to see what would happen. I allowed her to linger around the coop, and let the chickens get to know the cat.
With the photo as evidence, our visiting cat sat down for a rest. She even closed her eyes a few times while the chickens ran around a bit spooked in the run, heads flopping back and forth, looking for danger or a falling sky.
For as often as she’s come around, she’s not once pounced at the flock, as the dogs have. Nor has she perched herself on top of the coop, which would be a cozy place to sunbathe. So far, she seems completely non-threatening. Perhaps, like me, she just likes the view.
Those of you with experience, is the prowling neighborhood cat a friend or foe? Certainly, she seems to like our yard, and certainly, a 6-foot privacy fence isn’t going to keep her out. I’d like to think that once the fence is done, and our chickens are full-grown, they’d protect themselves from a cat smaller than themselves.
I like the thought of a neighborhood cat adopting us and our chickens. But, it’s unlikely. As much as she likes our hens, she doesn’t seem to like me. She ran away, camera shy, and sent the girls into first a tizzy, then relief, as she hopped the fence and sashayed across the neighbor’s yard.
She’ll be back, but we likely won’t know her true intentions until the fence is up and our girls hit the yard for real free ranging. None of us can wait! Most of all, the cat, I’m sure.
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Photos: Rachel Hurd Anger