brown duck on green grass

Will Cats Attack Ducks?

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Cats and ducks both make great pets but what about when they share the same environment? Will cats attack ducks? Or is it safe to leave the two species together?

Will Cats Attack Ducks?

Cats are predators. They have an innate ability to hunt. You’ll have seen them going after garden birds and rodents, and even house cats prove their hunting prowess by chasing their toys and then “killing them”.

If you’ve ever watched a cat stalking a garden bird, you’ll have an idea about what they might like to do to a duck. But cats also have a keen survival instinct. Domestic cats often won’t attack something larger than they are. They won’t attack something they think could beat them, either. That’s the general rule, anyway.

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut, one-size-fits-all, answer here. Some cats will attack ducks. Other cats won’t. Most pet cats are unlikely to attack an adult duck (especially if there’s more than one), but there are exceptions. Some cats have a personality that predisposes them towards attacking other animals. Feral cats are also more likely to attack ducks. Feral cats may be desperate for food and more willing to take risks when they see an opportunity to hunt and eat. This can also be the case with stray cats.

Ducklings are most at risk from cats because they’re smaller. It’s similar to why cats will attack baby chickens but ignore full-grown ones. Smaller duck breeds may always need protection from cats.

The short answer is that yes, cats can and do attack ducks. The smaller the duck the more tempting it will be for some cats to attack. Pet cats are generally less bothered with ducks than feral and strays but it’s always wise to be cautious.

Take a look on YouTube or Google for lots of videos and stories of cats and ducks being best friends. It does happen. Other owners report that some cats are indifferent to the ducks. Others say that the cats are scared of them. As with human behaviour, so much depends on a cat’s personality, situation, and disposition. There’s no universal answer, but if strays and ferals roam your neighborhood then it’s best to be cautious.

How to Protect Ducks from Cats

Buying larger duck breeds will help. Cats will think twice about attacking something that rivals or exceeds them in size. Keep ducklings away from predators, too. Keep them in a run and supervise them when they’re outside. Some duck owners living in urban areas do this even when the ducks are fully grown. Attaching a bell to the cat’s collar (if it’s your cat) gives birds and ducks some warning that there’s a predator nearby. Cats won’t go into the water so if there’s a place for the ducks to swim that can give them a place to retreat to. It’s also important to remember that cats aren’t the only predators. Other animals will attack ducks, too. This could be minks, weasels, foxes, opossums, bobcats, and even dogs.

Danger can also come from the air with birds of prey like hawks and owls. Make sure that you’re not so fixated on blaming the local cat that you forget about other predators. Keep your ducks secure at night and in the evening and ensure that nothing can squeeze in, under, or through.  Regularly check for any holes and gaps. We’ve written about some of the things that can keep cats away from sand volleyball courts. You might find those ideas useful. Some owners will also have other animals like goats and geese to make it less likely that a cat will attack.

Ducks Vs Cats

Will cats attack ducks? Yes, cats can kill ducks. It isn’t inevitable, but it is possible. Ducklings and small breeds are particularly at risk. You should keep them away from any potential predators. Feral cats are more likely to attack because they may be hungry. Secure your ducks when you can’t supervise them especially at night. You could also supply them with a secure run during the day. If you have a pet cat that you’d like to introduce to the ducks, do this under supervision.  Most cats won’t bother with adult ducks but they are predators, so you really never know. Use your own judgement and experience to decide whether your cats (or the neighborhood cats) will attack ducks or not.