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UK Cat Laws

Here you can find out about all of the laws regarding cats that are enforced in the United Kingdom. You can find out who is liable for damage in the event of an accident, and discover all you need to know about at the Animal Welfare Act.

Theft Act 1968

Cats are regarded as property in the eyes of the law. This means that cats who appear to be stray or lost are still considered the property of their original owner and so adequate steps must be taken to locate the original owner where possible.

Criminal Damage Act 1971

If a person harms or kills your cat without lawful excuse* then they may be liable. Not only is it an offense for anyone (including the owner) to cause unnecessary suffering to a cat but it is also classed as criminal damage if someone harms your cat because the cat is considered your property.

The most common lawful excuse is if somebody has hit your cat with their car by accident.

Animal Act 1971

This act recognises that cats are less likely than other animals, such as dogs and livestock to cause damage to property and/or injure people. The outcome of this is that the law does not require owners to confine their cats within their property.

Sale Of Goods Act 1979

Like any business transaction the seller aka the breeder has an obligation to provide goods of satisfactory quality that match their description and are fit for purpose. The way that this most commonly affects cats (almost purely pedigree cats), is if the breeder has lied about lineage and/or known hereditary defects. For a case to carry any weight there must be proof that any health problems that developed after sale were known about prior to the sale but not disclosed.

Animal Welfare Act 2006

This act aims to ensure the welfare of cats whilst simultaneously preventing cruelty. The act emphasises the need for owners to supply a suitable place for their cat to live and exhibit normal behaviour. It also states cats need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Lastly a suitable diet must be provided for your cat.

Liability For Cat Damage

This is a tricky area of the law with no universal answer. It can be said that cat owners have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent their cat causing harm to others or damage to property but unlike dogs and livestock, cats have the ‘right to roam’ meaning that they do not have to be securely confined by their owners. If a cat is causing a nuisance through noise or fouling a neighbours garden, then steps should be taken to prevent this. Failure to do so may force the neighbour to contact the council who will assess the level of nuisance and have the power to issue anti social behaviour orders (ASBOs) which carry a criminal offense if not complied with.

Car Accidents

If your cat is hit by a car then the driver is not liable under the criminal damage act for any injury or death unless there is proof that the collision was caused by driver negligence. Furthermore it is unlikely that you will be liable for any damage caused by the collision however it is not guaranteed.

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Mel, 30 May 2021

Just a question I keep a stud boy out in the garden I feed my cats raw So there is no smell from There poo after keeping my cats outside for 9 years My Neighbors are now saying that they are not able to sleep at night for the smell of cats ? and the noise i can shut my stud boy in at night and stop him from shouting at night but What do i do if there is no smell ?

Jennifer, 18 March 2021

My cat moved in with my neighbour about 3 years ago. They feed it and it lives with them. Should i be the one to pay the vet bills?

Kerry, 17 March 2021

This is very trivial but making me worried sick. My neighbour has threatened to bill me for scratches to his car that he states were cause by my cat. He informs me he has photographic evidence of this. Where do I stand? Can he bill me? Can get take me to court? Do I have to keep my cat in??? Any advice would be welcome, please help I am loosing sleep worrying

Julie, 6 March 2021

Ok, so cats are free to roam. I have a problem with one cat that seems to spend most of its time killing birds and pooping in my garden. Every day its here without fail. I have blocked off most of the gaps it can get through to no avail as it jumps the fence to get at the birds I feed. If its my responsibility to keep the cat out, then can i bill the cat owner for having to pay for the things i need to secure my property? And can i ask the owner to clear up thw poo every day? They dont seem to care their cat is out all day or what stress this is causing me and the birds.

Lisa, 28 February 2021

I generally have nuisance neighbours and the man is a retired police officer. They constantly have relatives park so I can’t get out if my drive on Sundays. They lean over the fence to hack my shrubs which do not overhang.......but recently they have angled canes over low wall at the front of their property to prevent my cat climbing up, which I have seen him do only once. The problem is that he will not know these canes are there angled to spear him if he jumps up. I feel that putting forks on the end would prevent that, but if I do that there will be repercussions, and technically I would be tampering with their property. I don’t want to do as they do, but am fearful my cat will become injured... so grateful for any advice. Thanks.

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