Ducks are birds and cats are cats and you would think that cats would generally eat ducks, not befriend them. In the wild, a cat would certainly go after ducks as a food source, and birds, in general, are a prime source of meat for cats. And this would probably be the norm for most domestic cats as well – ducks are food.
But not always. Sometimes, due to temperament, training, socialization, or just weird timing, cats have befriended the fowl they’d normally eat and the two species live pretty harmoniously together. It certainly won’t be the usual thing to expect, but sometimes cats and ducks live together just fine.
We would still note though that you should supervise your cat and duck, as best you can, when they are hanging out together, just to make sure your cat doesn’t suddenly change its mind and look at its buddy as dinner.
So how can you get your cats and ducks to live together relatively peacefully?
Proper introductions and training is generally going to be the most important thing in making sure the two animals get along. They need slow, supervised introductions and time to spend together on their terms in order to start bonding.
It helps that ducks are usually pretty laid back about sharing space, though cats are generally more territorial and less friendly, so you have to get them to meet halfway.
Ultimately, the goal is to either have them get along or at least ignore each other. Smaller cats and bigger ducks tend to ignore each other, whereas bigger cats and young ducks are more likely to come to a bad end (for the duck. The cat is usually fine with it).
Make sure both animals have a hiding place that the other one cannot get to and make introductions slowly and carefully.
It’s also important to take into account the temperament of your ducks and cats. Some ducks are surprisingly vicious and will attack dogs, foxes, other birds, and yes, cats. Some cats are closer to their wild ancestors than others and will hunt and eat ducks (particularly breeds like Bengals).
Territorial ducks and territorial cats are obviously going to have a much harder time of things compared to two laid-back sets of animals. So, when looking around for a cat (or ducks), be sure that at least one set of the animals is laid back and has places to hide from the other one.
You reduce the chances of at least some of this by getting either laid-back adults or kittens and ducklings that will be raised with each other. But even that is far from foolproof and young animals can inadvertently hurt each other.
Will Ducks Hurt a Cat?
While ducks are generally prey animals to cats, there have been incidents of ducks hurting cats, either intentionally (to defend themselves or their territory) or unintentionally (salmonella poisoning from the cat eating the duck raw).
Large ducks with enough of an aggressive streak can (and have) killed or at least badly injured animals that they view as a threat to themselves, their eggs, or their space, and this includes cats. Those wings can carry quite a blow and their beaks are heavy.
It’s pretty rare to have a cat harmed by a duck, but it can happen, particularly to younger cats dealing with more experienced or nervous ducks.
Again, this can be at least somewhat prevented with proper introductions, spaces for each of them to retreat to, and by carefully selecting a cat (or ducks) with a more peaceful temperament.
As for salmonella poisoning, this is always a risk when a cat eats raw or undercooked chicken. Watch out for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness, lethargy, and abdominal discomfort, and talk to your vet if the symptoms get worse.
Cats can also be allergic to ducks and when they eat a duck, they start itching, having stomach problems, and vomiting. In that case, you will want to take your cat to the vet to get it looked at.
Some Great Stories of Ducks and Cats Getting Along
So, most of the time, cats will view ducks as potential food sources, and ducks will view cats as things to run away from. But not always. The internet abounds with stories of ducks and cats not only tolerating each other, but befriending each other or, in one notable case, a cat raising ducklings as her own kittens!
One of the weirdest (but cutest) stories comes from Ireland where a couple took on a few duckling eggs, only to find that they had hatched and vanished. They assumed that their cat had eaten them, but instead, the cat had adopted them along with the kittens she had just given birth to.
Not only did she not eat them, but the ducklings nursed, cuddled, and generally attached to the cat! As the ducks grew up, they continued to follow their ‘mom’ around, nearly tripping over her kittens since they obviously grow slower than ducks.
This is obviously a unique story. Animal behaviorists figure that it was a bizarre case of good timing – the mom cat had recently given birth when she found the ducklings and rather than eat them, her maternal instincts kicked in and she adopted them.
That is just the weirdest story out there – there are plenty of other stories of kittens hanging out with ducklings, cats playing with ducks (Gently), and ducks and cats hanging out together. It’s all a matter of timing, temperament, careful introductions, and a bit of luck.
So, can cats and ducks live together? They can! It takes some work, lucks, supervision, and care, but cats and ducks can range from ignoring each other to hanging out together.
It’s definitely not something that is a given though and you’ll want to be careful to keep them supervised when they hang out, but there have been some great duck-cat friendships recorded.
What’s the weirdest friend your cat has ever had? My grey cat hated every other animal except a hedgehog that a friend of the family brought over! She thought that hedgehog was pretty cool! What about your cat?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.