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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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Chelsey, 10 July 2021

My poor 2 year old cat went our at 11pm the night before she was recently killed by my neighbours wooden pallet that they'd left standing freely in the garden overnight. I feel they are parlty to blame? I found her at 4pm the next day and they turned a blind eye. Since then they haven't left their condolences which I think it totally heartless


Angie, 7 July 2021

I have 2 silver bengals who in our old property, spent their day outside in a huge cat-run. We lived very close to a very busy road, so I was worried about them being hit by a car. My husband and I moved nearly 2 years ago, to a very rural property within farmland. It took us nearly 1 year to find this property, it is our forever home, and a huge consideration in buying this property was that we felt very safe in now letting our cats out. Once we moved in, we kept them in for a month, then crossed our fingers they wouldn't disappear into the sunset, but thankfully they returned home. They love roaming. Unfortunately our boy bengal is a bit of a beast, he is ~12 kg (not fat, pure muscle) & now he has freedom has understandably carved out his territory. He beats up on his sister (~6 kg), so we have had to do some juggling. He is a night hunter cat, she is a day roamer, so we manage pretty well of keeping them separated & safe. Initially whe we moved in, we were chatty we our next door neighbours (we both have deatched properties with a sizable amount of land). They have cats and I think for the first few weeks all was ok, but once our boy carved his territory, he has been fighting with one of their cats. Angry confrontation about the vet bills initiated hostilities (we have had to ask the vet for a home visit x3 due to them fighting, but we haven't been banging on their door moaning, it's part of owning a cat?). We have offered up solutions, we installed a micro-chip activated cat-flap as we had their cat in our house on one occasion, we have offered to keep him in during the day, so they can keep their cat in their barm at night (which is what happens anyway), we have offered to buy them water pistols to ward our boy off, but he has either never respoded, or when I tried this week again to have a calm, adult discussion to find a resolution, he refuses to consider any of our suggestions, but won't offer up anything himself. This has now resulted in him twice shouting over the fence/driveway gate promising my husband he will kill our big boy. We have security cameras, so these confrotations/promises have been recorded, I have filed a non-emergency police report and contacted the RSPCA for advice but I am scared for my pet, and wondering what else I can do? I made it very clear to him that under the Animals Act 2006 that cats have a right to roam, and that they are considered 'property', which can be prosecuted with the potential of 6 months in prison, or a £20,000 fine, which I made very clear I would pursue if my cat doesn't come home, or becomes ill, or if I find him dead. All verbalised in a very adult, calm and reasonable manner. Where do we go from here? OH & I have been actively keeping him in during the day, and only letting him out when it is pitch black, but we are stressing and worrying about him all the time.


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