Chickens “Better Than A Soap Opera” At Cats & Cluckers

Sarah Hock from the Washington-based homestead Cats and Cluckers tells us about the virtues of a life surrounded by poultry.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Cats and Cluckers

“Spending time with my chickens is not only the highlight of my day but one of the best ways to relax,” says Sarah Hock, who broadcasts her chicken-centric adventures through the Cats And Cluckers Instagram account. “I love coming home from work to spend the evening sipping some wine and watching the flock.”

Based in Thurston County in the state of Washington, Hock’s interest in raising birds was partly sparked when she was 10 years old and her family welcomed a pair of African geese into the household. That formative experience has now bloomed into a homestead that features an array of chickens flanked by a clowder of kitties.

Taking a moment away from tending to her chicks, we spoke to Hock about training chickens and how to socialize kittens to be friendly to chicks. We also got to know a Crested Cream Legbar named Celeste.

Becoming Fascinated by Animals


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“Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by all animals,” recalls Hock. “I grew up in a rural community, and farm animals—including chickens—were a common part of life.”

Having always vowed to “bring in some poultry” as soon as she had a large enough living space of her own, Hock plumped for chickens as they seemed like a promising starter choice. “After that, I was hooked,” she says. “It took me back to how attached I became to my little flock and their daily antics. It’s better than a soap opera and my favorite part of the day.”

When You Call My Name

Running through some of the most fascinating examples of chicken behavior that she’s discovered, Hock says her flock have proved able to “learn their names and come when called.”

So when Hock can’t find a particular chicken, she says, “All I have to do is call their name a few times and the next thing I know they come running from whatever mischief they were in to come see if I have treats.”

A Food-Motivated Type of Bird

Hock adds that she’s found chickens to be highly trainable because they are food-motivated: “I hardly ever have any issues getting them locked in the coop in the evenings—I just have to shake the treat bag and they go running in knowing they won’t get their grubs until they are inside.”

Hock says that she also managed to train a batch of pullets to “walk right into a large pet carrier so I could transport them wherever I needed to with little effort on my part.”

Superstar Celeste

When it comes to the star of the flock, Hock anoints Celeste, a Crested Cream Legbar. “She loves to follow me around or sit on my shoulder while I’m doing chores out in the run,” explains Hock. “She’s always up for a good snuggle once I’m done.”

“That chicken gives me a heart attack on a regular basis because she likes to lie down in random places with her face down in the dirt to nap or sunbathe,” she continues. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. But the thing that cracks me up the most about her is that, like clockwork, she puts herself to bed an hour before sunset—every single day!”

What About the Cats?

At the Hock homestead, the poultry is matched by a number of felines. Luckily, Hock describes her clowder as like “lazy house panthers who would rather sleep than hunt.”

Hock adds that it’s usually easiest to socialize kittens to play and live safely around chickens, rather than more senior kitties. “My oldest cat, Rufus, has been around a plethora of animals since he was a kitten—from dogs to rabbits to guinea pigs and parrots,” says Hock. “So he’s pretty animal savvy and loved watching the baby chicks when they were in the brooder.”

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