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.
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.