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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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Tessa, 23 March 2020

i read about a law pertaining to cats that stated as cats are regarded bylaw to be free spirits the owner/keeper cannot be held responsible for any criminal damage they may cause. Also that it was a criminal offence to harm them in any way. now i cannot seem to find that again-i did not imagine it either .

Jenya, 15 September 2019

our neighbours moved in approx 4-5 months back with 2 cats. the cars are out most day, as their oweners work, they have no way to get into the house. they desperately trying to get into any open door. The cats have scratched our heavy duty garden furniture, as they rest on it, we are right next to the new neighbours in a row of terraced houses. we used different devices.... the cats keep scratching- we keep sending..... my husband spoke to the owner and he said sorry. this issue has prevented us using the only space we have to sit out during this summer, also, we have spend hundred of pounds trying to keep them out of our very small space. in fact we can't use the garden as now we put net over which looks very unpleasant. we are hoping to put a CCTV camera to show the cat owens the damage to our furniture. as cats can't scratch our furniture now they now scratch car tires on our street 7cars are parked there. any advice?

Owner, 13 September 2019

Hi I have a pup and a cat has scratched her and may be blind in one eye, is the owner liable ?

Sheridan, 12 September 2019

The answer to problem cats living next door is actually very simple. Get your own cat, you can train it to behave and mostly to poo where you want it to and it will establish your garden, very quickly, as it’s territory. If you have a problem with a number of cats get a ginger cat.

Sarah, 5 August 2019

My neighbour has 5 or 6 cats who do their business on our front drive (no grass only slabs) and right outside our front door daily. We have tried everything to deter them but they just keep coming back - citrus, pepper, vinegar, cucumber, one of those stick in the ground battery powered things, a water pistol... Where do I stand on insisting the neighbour keeps them in his house? We don't want to hurt them but just need them to disappear!!

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