Mississippi – a homeowner can kill a stray cat entering their home or land

Mississippi animal welfare laws

In Mississippi a homeowner can kill a stray cat entering their home or land. There is a sloppy piece of drafting in Mississippi’s cruelty to animals legislation, which allows a person to legally kill a cat that might enter a person’s home through a cat door (cat flap) or anywhere on the person’s land. The cat could be a neighbor’s cat or a stray cat. This is the get-out-of-jail clause.

Mississippi’s animal welfare laws are probably very similar to the animal welfare laws of other states and other countries. Most of the advanced jurisdictions have similar statutes (code or law).

However, in Mississippi there is a defence that is tucked away in the middle of “Title 97. Crimes. Chapter 41. Cruelty to Animals”

You can find it at: § 97-41-16. Maliciously injuring dogs or cats – (4)(a)….

Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting a person from:

(i) Defending himself or herself or another person from physical or economic injury being threatened or caused by a dog or cat.

(ii) Injuring or killing an unconfined dog or cat on the property of the person, if the unconfined dog or cat is believed to constitute a threat of physical injury or damage to any domesticated animal under the care or control of such person.

Let’s interpret that bit of law.

A cat wanders in through an open door or a cat flap. The person who owns the house does not like cats. He lives alone. He throws a heavy object – a milk crate – at the cat. The cat is hit and is knocked out and appears to be dead. He picks the cat up and dumps it outside. Later he sees the cat is still alive and he kills it with garden shears. He disposes of the cat. Someone, a neighbour perhaps, sees the man kill the cat with shears. This is exactly what happened recently in Jones County, Mississippi. The police did nothing about it.

The cat killer was protected by this bit of sloppy law. He can say he was defending himself from potential “economic injury”. “Economic injury” is a term that can be widely interpreted. He could say the cat jumped up and knocked over a vase or scratched his wood floor. Anything, no matter how minor and insubstantial, could form the basis for an excuse to kill a cat under these circumstances.

There would no witnesses to the killing so the home owner is virtually free to do as he pleases. In fact a cat hater could kill a cat outside in his yard or anywhere on his property which might be many acres and cite the same defence.

One other weakness in animal welfare laws of this type is that almost all cat abuse laws refer to cruelty. If a cat is killed instantly the argument goes that the cat felt no pain and therefore there was no cruelty.

This is the law that Woody refers to when he says people can shoot cats on their own property with impunity. It is bad law. All acts directed towards any cat, anywhere should not be cruel and should not be animal abuse. Essentially, that is the law in England and Wales.

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Mississippi – a homeowner can kill a stray cat entering their home or land — 26 Comments

  1. I think this is dreadful! No one in Mississippi or anywhere else come to that should be allowed to take a life. Why only cats anyway? Why not dogs? Not that I’d condone that either of course but a cat’s life is equally as precious as a dog’s life.
    What next, be allowed to kill a person entering even the edges of their sacred property?
    Our country has a lot of faults but I’m so thankful we don’t all have guns and that we have laws to protect all animals from cold hearted cruel killers.

  2. What a nasty sick law that plays into the hands of cat or dog haters, what makes humans so important that they can decide which animals live and die. I would really hate to live in a place like that.

  3. Ironically, Mississippi is one of a group of states termed “The Bible Belt”. They are believed to be more devoutly christian than any other region.
    I guess “Thou Shalt Not Kill” isn’t explicit enough for them.

    • America has good animal welfare law but it struggles with going the whole way and classifying animal cruelty in a universal way. It is the same thing anywhere. It is irrelevant if it happens on your land, in your home or on public property. The politicians of Mississippi don’t agree with that simple universal treatment of animal cruelty and so they create a massive hole in their legislation that weakens it substantially.

        • It depends how you kill and for what purpose and for what purpose the animal existed and how they were treated. A lot of farm animals are treated most cruelly. Cats are domestic animals. They are not livestock. Think yourself.

          • Cattle, pigs, chickens, etc., are ALL domesticated animals — NO DIFFERENT THAN CATS.

            Is it animal cruelty to humanely kill a deer, a squirrel, a rabbit, an alligator, a wild boar, etc. etc. etc.

            You just will NEVER get it, will you. It’s not a matter what animal is killed (as long as it is not a protected species, protected by endangered-species laws, whereas cats are listed as the top 100 most invasive-species of the world), AS LONG AS AN ANIMAL IS KILLED HUMANELY IT IS LEGAL TO KILL *ANY* ANIMAL IN ANY COUNTRY. Now if you don’t like reality, then I suggest you remove yourself from contact with the real world.

            A CAT IS AN ANIMAL. IT IS NOT PROTECTED BY LAWS THAT PROTECT HUMANS FROM BEING KILLED BY OTHER HUMANS.

            A cat is not your baby, your offspring, your blood-relative. The only people who believe that cats deserve the very same laws that protect humans are people who are incapable of procreating and raising their own human offspring. Or are just very mentally damaged vegans who ignore how many animals are being killed for them every year for their crops.

            • AS LONG AS AN ANIMAL IS KILLED HUMANELY IT IS LEGAL TO KILL *ANY* ANIMAL IN ANY COUNTRY

              No, that is completely incorrect. You will never get it. We have completely different views on our relationship with animals. I think of them as equals. You think of them as something to be used by humans. We are miles apart and always will be.

              A CAT IS AN ANIMAL. IT IS NOT PROTECTED BY LAWS THAT PROTECT HUMANS FROM BEING KILLED BY OTHER HUMANS.

              This is gobbledegook – rubbish. For me you are worse than an animal and by the way you are a species of animal – homo sapiens. There are laws concerning animal welfare that protect animals from suffering at the hands of people like you. When you kill a cat the cat will suffer even if the killing is good and clean. They will be a moment at least, of pain which is suffering. The only way to kill a cat without suffering is by a vet using drugs to properly and humanely euthanise a terminally ill cat.

              I don’t see cats as babies. I see cats as cats; animals as animals. You have no idea of what I am like or thinking. You shout at people. You are angry and unpleasant. Don’t respond to this. It will be deleted.

              Read this you idiot: http://pictures-of-cats.org/Animal-Welfare-Act-2006.html

              • Ok , so I read your views and while they may seem good on the surface they are not. Apparently you see the world in a white and black situation, where right is right and wrong is wrong that is such simplistic way of viewing things it is also very naive. Things you say such as “The only way to kill a cat without suffering is by a vet using drugs to properly and humanely euthanise a terminally ill cat.” Is simply not true nor scientifically correct. So we shall start with that one, basically what you are telling me the only way animals will feel no pain is if you kill them with a cocktail of drugs. Ok a couple of issues with that one being those drugs do not work the same on every animal or even human. ex. The gentleman who got put too death not long ago suffered for several minutes before dying. There are also plenty of reports for the same thing happening in animals. Problem two I have no clue if you went to school or whether you took a simple a&p class but apparently you are severely lacking in that department because one of the first things you learn is once a major trauma happens to certain parts of your brain, you become brain dead which equates to death by legal standards. Now explain to me how someone or something brain dead feel pain that is physiologically impossible as the receptors are damaged beyond repair and no longer function. So seems to me a massive brain trauma like a proper caliber bullet to the frontal love would be more humane. Unless your calling science a farce. Now onto your other dribble such as “I think of them as equals. You think of them as something to be used by humans.” There is so much wrong with this firstly if your a Christian you are severely wrong in what you said because in the bible it states the complete opposite of that it says animals are here for our food. They have no souls, they cannot possibly be our equals. Or if your an atheist or agnostic etc. Then the food chain comes to mind how can you tell me something that is lower on the food chain is your equal? How can you put the life of a soulless animal equal with that of a human being? You say we are equals yet you say we domesticated them so either your to ignorant to see your own words as a contradiction or you just turn a blind eye, either because you don’t really care or you really aren’t intelligent enough to understand you can’t domesticate something and make it an equal because you hold all of the power over it. You also state that animals are not live stock again you show your ignorance of course they are maybe not in the USA but in several countries they are. So it seems like you are just spouting things off out of fanatical belief and not any type of logical thought no matter what evidence there is. Which goes back to your simplistic view of black and white. What’s right to you may not be what’s actually right In a particular situation. As another example I raise chickens which are considered a livestock even to people like you and we have a feral cat problem, 50-100 of them roam the neighborhood. Well those so called equals keep trying to break into my chicken coup and fence which is predator proof but that doesn’t deter most of the feral or strays. So what am I too do ? Call animal control ? Sure I call them guess what they say well we are full and can’t take anymore and basically all they do if they come get them is euthenize them as a lot of the apparently have a strain of a herpes virus and are disgusting. Then it takes them weeks, or months to catch all of them and that’s even if they come period. Which is usually not the case or do I take it into my own hands and deal with the problem while saving the tax payers money on fuel, vet bills, and drugs to have them put down? I take option 2 because as the law states it is my property and yes it’s precious to me so are my chickens, dogs, and the children around here. I have no qualms about eliminating a predator that intends to harm things I care about. Especially a predator I neither asked for or wanted here. So if I did what’s right according to you I would let the cats kill my chickens claw my cars, tear my garbage up without any accountability on there part because they are cats and it’s in their nature but you they are equals to us and as an equal they need to have accountability so tell me how we can do that if they are both pets and equals? Now I’m not condoning just shooting your neighbors pets if they come in your yard everyonce In awhile just crossing I’m saying if it’s a perpetual problem and they are doing harm. Even then I only take matters into my own hands after attempting to talk to the owners to remedy the problem if they don’t then I have documentation stating my obvious attempts. So if I’m wrong in any of this please tell me how. If I get a decent response that’s not filled full of fanaticism I’ll be amazed or even a response at all. Just remember this one thing also ” a pet is a pet while it’s on your property but once it’s on mine it becomes a predator” as that’s essentially the end result.

                • Apparently you see the world in a white and black situation, where right is right and wrong is wrong that is such simplistic way of viewing things it is also very naive

                  When it comes to ethics and morals surrounding the issue of killing companion animals I have to agree that there is only one way to view this: it is right or wrong, black and white. That has to be the case and it can only be like that. It is not simplistic. The whole subject of morals and ethics is based upon what is right and what is wrong which is a black-and-white subject. It is not naive. As far as I’m concerned it is an intelligent approach.

                  So seems to me a massive brain trauma like a proper caliber bullet to the frontal love would be more humane.

                  I suppose what you are saying when you wrote this is that if you shoot a feral cat or any cat with a rifle and the bullet hits the cat in exactly the correct place then the cat dies instantly without pain. That may well be the case but how many shooters of cats manage to shoot the targetted cat in exactly the correct place for instantaneous death? I would suggest that very few do it. Therefore people who shoot cats inflict a lot of pain which is inhumane and unethical and immoral and indeed illegal in civilised countries.

                  Also, if shooting a cat in the brain is such a good way to euthanise cats why isn’t it carried out in the backroom of a veterinary surgery?

                  The gentleman who got put too death not long ago suffered for several minutes before dying

                  You cannot quote the case of one criminal put to death in a prison as an argument why veterinarians should not use drugs to euthanise cats. One example, one case concerning a human being does not in any shape or form support your argument that drugs to euthanise cats are inadequate or less good than for example shooting cats in the head, which you have suggested.

                  dribble

                  The correct word is “drivel”.

                  the bible it states the complete opposite of that it says animals are here for our food. They have no souls, they cannot possibly be our equals.

                  The Bible was written many hundreds of years ago and many hundreds years after the death of Christ. It is a mishmash of stories written at a time when people thought extremely differently from now. You are quoting the thoughts of people that lived about 1500 years ago. Do you think that people have advanced in their thought processes since then and if so why are you following the thoughts of somebody who lived such a long time ago? The first point, then, is that in relation to animals the Bible is not a good book to follow, far from it. I’ve made this point clear in other posts:

                  http://pictures-of-cats.org/Christianity-and-Cats.html

                  http://pictures-of-cats.org/are-christians-more-likely-to-declaw-cats.html

                  They have no souls

                  I suppose you are quoting the Bible again which as I say is many centuries old and highly outdated in its thoughts. Even the whole issue of a person having a “soul” is problematic. What does it mean? It’s a human invention. The Bible is not worth following in my considered opinion. Radical Muslims follow the Koran and quote it when they kill people, the unbelievers. Same sort of thing. Any modern day thinking theologian would admit that if a “soul” does exist then it exists in animals as well. Why not? In any event, only recently is humankind realising that many animals possess an intelligence far beyond that was once imagined. Surely even this supports the idea that animals have souls.

                  how can you tell me something that is lower on the food chain is your equal?

                  I think you’re living in about the Middle Ages, about a millenia ago. Your mentality indicates that. People don’t need to eat animals and therefore you could argue that there is no food chain with people at the top. I don’t think you can include people in a food chain. If people were living in Africa amongst lions they would not be at the top of the food chain: the lion would if rifles were taken away from the people.

                  You say we are equals yet you say we domesticated them so either your to ignorant to see your own words as a contradiction

                  We did not domesticate the African wildcat. It was a mutual arrangement in which both benefited. The Wildcat agreed to be domesticated. It was self-domestication by becoming habituated and conditioned to human contact in human settlements.

                  spouting things off out of fanatical belief

                  It is you who is the fanatic, blindly believing in the Bible, a book written almost 1500-1800 years ago. I’m open-minded and freethinking and because of that I am able to look at things in a much wider more intelligent manner than someone like you.

                  I don’t have time to address your ill-thought out statement any longer. You are clearly some sort of fundamentalist Christian with very narrow thoughts. You are convinced that animals are there to feed us and therefore you can shoot them at will. You probably believe animals don’t feel pain or hardly feel pain. You probably believe that the declawing of cats is perfectly okay.

                  For me, you are a classic example of how a hardline Christian is an enemy of the animal, any animal and personally I detest people like you because you’re completely ignorant and a total idiot. Please do not respond to this comment because I do not have the time and patience to correspond with you any more.

                  Finally read these books careful:

                  Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (probably too complicated for you)

                  All in the Mind: A Farewell to God by Ludovic Kennedy

                  These books might open your mind.

    • I couldn’t be bothered to read that long rant, very disappointed he’s escaped from the Bermuda Triangle, where can we send him next Dee? 😉

      • Heavens, R.
        I’ll have to think on this.
        My first thought has always been to throw him into the depths of Hell. But, he IS satan and has found his way out.
        Now, I’m thinking more along the lines of a large secure, soundproof, steel enclosure where we can administer shock therapy. He, badly, needs his brain scrambled and unscrambled. We’ll have to keep increasing the “juice” (electricity) until he’s “right”. I don’t know how high that will have to be. It may be an execution instead.

        • We just have to be so careful not to venture into that execution realm.
          That would be so much trouble and work.
          Do we bury him? If so, should we bury his guns with him?
          Do we cremate him? Who the hell would want his ashes?
          Either way, do we want him to dissolve into a part of our already polluted planet?
          We could shoot his remains into space to forever orbit around and around and around.

        • Any of your thoughts would be helpful, Michael.
          We’re on a mission, a crusade to fight the hate crimes that target our beloved cats.
          We bear our shields proudly on our chests, PROTECTORS OF CATS.

          • LOL. Do you mean what shall we do with this person who made this horrible comment? I’d like to change him. Change the way he thinks and turn him into an Evangelist who spreads the gospel not of Christ but of protecting the domestic cat. I know that’s impossible but that’s what I would like to do: to completely change his mentality so that he sees the light, the light of a better way and a way there is decent and which respects our fellow creatures.

            Instead of that high moral objective I’d like to cut his balls off, deep fry them in batter and then make him eat them with french fries 😉

            • We’ll do our best to change him. We’re going to scramble his brain to the max.
              Then, we may even try hypnosis too.
              If unsuccessful, he’s all yours!

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