Your cat scratches your neighbour’s car. What next?

Cat scratched car

Your cat, who likes to wander around the neighbourhood, jumps onto your neighbour’s car because the engine is still warm. The bonnet (“hood” in the USA) is warm. Your cat misjudges slightly and grabs using his front claws. Or, perhaps, already on the car is another cat that was unnoticed until suddenly seen. As a result, your cat skids and jumps off.

There are slight, faint scratch marks. You can hardly see them. To your neighbour they are a major source of irritation because he loves his car and he keeps it in perfect condition.

Your neighbour complains to you about it. What would be your response? Here are some example responses:

  • “My cat did not cause the scratches. He always jumps perfectly and lands softly. He has never marked a car. The cause must be something else”.
  • “It is your problem. My cat has the right to wander and it’s just one of those things that happens. Live with it. You can easily fix that with a bit of polish”.
  • “I am sorry. I’ll keep my cat in from now on. I’ll build an enclosure. If you get a quote for fixing the paintwork I’ll pay for it if your insurance excess prevents you claiming”.
  • “It is your problem. If your car is that precious to you, either put it in your garage or cover it up when not in use”.

Most people accept roaming cats. A lot of people like them and welcome them. They are part of the community. In reality I have never heard of a cat scratching someone’s car until today when I read Dave’s comment, which gave me the idea for this post (the link opens a new window and the section about his car has been emphasised by me).

Dave does not like cats or dogs. He trapped the cat that he says scratched his car and took it to a pound. He stated that the cat’s owner should prevent her cat from jumping onto his car. He says the problem is with the cat’s owner and he tried to get the owner to agree with him but failed. So he took drastic action.

My personal response would be that neighbours should compromise. As Ruth says, live and let live. Give and take. However, if it could be proved that my cat had scratched someone’s car (highly unlikely, I believe), I would pay for the repair and apologise. Initially I would do no more than that if the person who owned the car responded amicably to that suggestion.

If he threatened action that would harm my cat that would obviously present an entirely different and more serious problem. It would be an escalation of the problem and I am not sure at present how I would deal with it.

Note: the photo by Tobyotter is for illustrative purposes only. A cat did not scratch this person’s car hood. A person did it with a box.


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Your cat scratches your neighbour’s car. What next? — 9 Comments

  1. We have a neighbourhood cat who is left out long hours and sits on car bonnets still warm from the engine running, she has done this for years and not a single scratch has been detected on any of our cars.
    I honestly don’t think a cat’s claws would be sharp enough to make a noticeable scratch.
    One neighbour complained once worrying about his precious car but understood it wasn’t the cat’s fault, it was the fact she was outside and cold. As we feed her it was simple enough to say we’d look out for her and lift her from his car to ours, our cars are always ancient anyway and material possessions count for nothing to us against the welfare of living beings, even if in the unlikely event she ever did make a scratch.
    Yes it’s all about live and let live, peaceful compromise instead of open warfare.
    Kids can do far more damage to parked cars with their footballs so anyone complaining about a cat on their car might think about if their child could be causing damage, mostly just as innocently as a cat.

    • Yes, I have severe doubts as to whether a cat can scratch a car. I hope this post finds an answer to that question through a comment. If a cat’s claws can scratch a car’s paintwork the problem and the solution is about people. And the solution should always be about treating the cat decently and with respect.

  2. I don’t know what the law says about it but if the neighbour picks up your cat which he knows to be yours, and takes it to the shelter, then I think that is theft of your property. Furthermore taking a cat to a shelter implies a high probability of it being put down, which makes it worse than theft. Another thing, he would have to give false information about the cat. He’s not going to say it belongs to a neighbour. He has to lie and say it’s a stray. If the owner caught up with his cat and got the story of how it got there, the neighbour would be in trouble. For a cat to scratch the paintwork on a car the paint must be rather bad quality. I had a Nissan made in Mexico and the paint was scratched by my cats a couple of times.

  3. I think there’s something you can get at car shops that polishes minor scratches out, not sure if one type fits all colours or there are various colours but I’m almost sure I’ve been offered it in a shop at one time. A cat scratch if it happened isn’t going to be very deep as surely the claws would skid off the paintwork, so buy the neighbour a bottle of this = problem solved.

  4. I think I’m missing something here? its always been accepted here in the UK that cats are free spirits; they roam pretty much where they want (and I would hate that to change)I always thought it was the same in most other countries unitil I learnt about how brutal some people are in America to wandering cats! Why is it like this? its seems accepted that someone sees a cat roaming free and they whick it off to the local shelter as if it shouldn’t be out in the first place! Why is this as it always been the case? I just don’t get it if someone did that to one of my cats I really wouldn’t be respinsible for my actions……

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