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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Irene, 18 September 2020

My neighbours keep feeding my cat and allowing him to reside in their home. Now my cat is confused, he still comes in our garden and feed outside but won’t come in ( we do have a female cat who is very loyal). . Now we are moving , they have said they should have him. What do I do if he is no where to be found in our moving day? He is chipped.

Anita, 24 May 2020

How can I prevent my cat fouling a neighbours garden? They have a litter tray which they use so am not convinced it’s them but how can I prevent it just in case it is them?

Heather, 24 May 2020

Please people, consider a catio for cats...check them out online. They are cheap, can be erected quickly and can give cats a bit of outdoor freedom and protection from those who wish to poison, trap, or torture them. It is sad that it has come to this but alas people are people . Insane that we now have to protect our pets to this degree. My neighbour hated cats in his garden so (ironically ) I got a catio built on my decking, where they are confined to a small space for fresh air/ play etc...shock!.he now hates the catio too, so I cant win. And I imagine this will go legal also. But please keep building your catios and challenge the laws, because catios are on the rise and law seems vague to say the least.

Mary, 13 May 2020

Im at a loss, ive had to keep my cat in for good This other cat is so viscous and aggressive it made my cat extremely ill and a veryyyy expensive vets bill, it attacks him everytime he goes out. He is becoming seriously depressed and sits in one room all day and the night time When he does op down he howls to b out, hes losing weight as will hardly eat Weve tried a harness outside, feliway, playing with him but hes not interested His life is an utter misery, is it fair for me to keep him and he has to live like this for good, i cant bear the thought of rehoming him as he has totally bonded with me since my other cat died, he used to follow me everywhere but now is just upstairs Weve tried spraying the other cat with water but these fights occur outside of the garden aswell I think its a neighbours cat but i dont want to approach him as hes aggresive and not liked well in the street It comes into my house and attacks him in there aswell as outside and sprays, wees and poos in my house Is there nothing i can do?

Brenda, 12 April 2020

Our neighbour's cat no longer lives in their home, they rely on other neighbours feeding it. It attacks all other cats, causing costly damage. We have talked to the neighbours but they cannot catch it to keep it indoors. What can we do about this abnormally aggressive cat?

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