new to cats, want some advice

thundabutt

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Hi,
I'm new to cats and want some advice.

i live alone in the woods in Virginia. I have had a problem with rodents recently and adopted a cat that I thought would help with taking care of rodents around the home and with my chicken coops. It has actually worked out well, honestly, because she has been eliminate the mice problem I had in the barn and the general mouse problem I've had around the property. So, from that perspective it has been positive and I've enjoyed having her on the property.

I raise hens for eggs and the occasional Sunday night dinner. It's actually a fun hobby if you have the time. The problem is, well, she keeps killing the hens. At first I thought it was a fox but then I noticed the way the hens were being killed weren't consistent with how a fox will kill chickens. Foxes tend to eat their prey..

Actually, she's gotten quite sadistic. Midnight (her name) will somehow manage to actually bite off the heads of chickens and leave them at my back porch. At first I thought it was kind of clever but she places the heads in strange manners. So for instance, today she killed three hens and placed them in a pile right by my door and did so in a way to have the three heads pointed directly at the door. I don't mean in a pile, like, the heads were each put directly with their eyes pointed right at the door in an almost symmetrical manner. I mean it kind of freake d me out, but I don't understand. Does Midnight like want me to cook the chickens for her or something? The hen corpses are fine and all I need to do is boil them and we can share the meat but is that what she's trying to say to me?

thanks for your comments.
 

vince

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Midnight is bringing her kill back for you. Experts are mixed on the reason why, but they are agreed cats bring their prey back for their owners. She thinks of you as family and wants to share, as cats often do in the wild. Any prey is likely to be brought home.

The best thing is to just praise her for her largesse, bring her inside and put the hens in the henhouse at night to roost. I don't really know how to stop the killing. They are, after all, little predators, although chickens are a bit larger than their usual prey, I think.

Haven't had an outside cat for ages, but we used to have a tom that would bring us moles he'd killed.
 

Lukasmommy

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I’m not sure I’m in correct in this, but I believe I think cats will hunt small prey and leave them for you as gifts. It typically means they love you. I actually haven’t researched this but that’s what I’ve always been told.
 
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thundabutt

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I’m not sure I’m in correct in this, but I believe I think cats will hunt small prey and leave them for you as gifts. It typically means they love you. I actually haven’t researched this but that’s what I’ve always been told.
no no, I perhaps was unclear. Midnight takes the heads - not the corpse - and places them head/eyes first directly at my door arranged in a line. Almost religiously, directed right at my door. She's done this at least three times. I mean I kind of appreciate the consistency but it is starting to freak me out. I don't care about the hens so much it I've never an animal that will deliberately behead something and arrange the heads in a straight line pointed at a door. Don't get me wrong, I've had hunting dogs with weird dispositions (once a blood hound that would just stare at me in my sleep, imagine waking up to that). So, I'm not sure how I can correct the behavior.
 

sunny578

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Yes, I don't think you can correct the behavior, except to protect the chickens. I'm not sure if there is something meaningful to her about giving you the heads. She is probably very proud of herself though. Sounds like she needs to be featured in a horror novel or something. . .
 

ClumsyBear

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I would definitely be creeped out as well from the placement. I'm not sure why she's placing them this way. However, bringing back their prey is normal. My parents' cat is an outdoor cat, and she brings back birds/mice and places them in the same corner on the porch. I'm guessing Midnight is bringing heads because they're easier to carry than the whole bird and probably easier to "detach" as well.
 

Morpheus1967

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Not to weird you out, but are you sure it's the cat? Has the symmetrical presentation happened on more than one occasion?
 

Maurey

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I would definitely be creeped out as well from the placement. I'm not sure why she's placing them this way. However, bringing back their prey is normal. My parents' cat is an outdoor cat, and she brings back birds/mice and places them in the same corner on the porch. I'm guessing Midnight is bringing heads because they're easier to carry than the whole bird and probably easier to "detach" as well.
This, most likely. It could even be that she gets a bit too into being a cat after killing them and playing with her food, and accidentally tears off the heads, or it happens when she tries to bring them to you.

I feed raw with an occasional treat of whole prey, mainly frozen thawed day old chicks. Chips, my older cat, will toss the chick up with his mouth and catch it in his paws, and just generally toss the thing around the kitchen as he “kills” it before eating. He nearly beheaded his chick yesterday before he ate it, so it’s a definite possibility.
Whole chickens are too large for a cat, so she probably has the instincts to kill it, but doesn’t know how to approach the mass of feathers to correctly eat it. Since she doesn’t want it/can’t eat it, she brings it to you. Just heads are most likely by accident, as I don’t think your average cat will manage to drag off your average chicken any significant distance.
 

di and bob

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Do you have raccoons around? they are notorious for beheading chickens. why they would bring you the heads I don't know, but maybe the cat is finding the heads and bringing them to you. A chicken seems like awfully big prey for a cat to kill. Chicks I could understand. I would set up a trail camera and see what is going on....
 
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