What If My Dog Kills My Neighbour’s Cat?

by James Morris
(South Cambridge, UK)

My neighbour has 2 Ginger Cats Housed in a outside pen aprox 8’x 6′. They have had them caged there for 2 1/2 to 3 years, granted fed and watered but have never trespassed out of that Zone in that time. There was a problem in the winter when their food was covered in snow and water frozen. They actually are housed in a small Dog kennel with straw.

My point I ask, is that they released their pets, whether by accident or meant out, of their pen.

One cat entered my garden where I pen my dog for excretion and food zone my dog being an outside dog, golden retriever pedigree, who has run of garden and house with us in day, has never met a cat, he has killed rabbits, birds, rats, mice, even a hedgehog wandering in and even Bumble bee’s, as is his nature, but not cats. Were do I stand by law should he attack and kill neighbour’s cat in his territory?

I feel the people came to our neibourhood 3 years ago, lost first 2 cats and got these 2 who have never been out and will wander, with fast traffic A10 Cambridge road.

They will die anyway, but I do not want to be sued by them for my Dogs Nature.. would appreciate your responses.

Thank you in anticipation.



Hi James… Thanks for visiting and asking.

You ask if your neighbour can ‘sue’ you. That means a civil action for compensation. Cats are treated as chattels in law. A moggie has no real financial value in the eyes of the law so it would not be viable to sue even if the case had merit which it probably would not as the cat(s) are trespassing and you are doing all you reasonably can to keep your dog under control (i.e. in or on your property). One weakness to this argument is that it may be foreseeable by you that the cats would trespass. However, I see little success in an action for compensation in the civil courts under these circumstances.

There is one other aspect. Would you have committed a crime vicariously through your dog’s behavior?

The relevant act as I understand it would be the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Section 4 is a relevant one:

(1) A person commits an offence if—

(a) an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,
(b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,
(c) the animal is a protected animal, and
(d) the suffering is unnecessary.

As you are taking reasonable steps to control your dog (I presume that this is the case) it would be hard to say that you failed to act to prevent the cats being attacked. The cat owners are the authors of their cats suffering or death.

Accordingly, I would have thought that you are in the clear both from a civil and criminal standpoint.

The position would be very different if your dog trespasses on their property and kills their cats or injures them.

Michael Avatar

What If My Dog Kills My Neighbour’s Tresspassing Cat? to Cats and the Law

Comments for
What If My Dog Kills My Neighbour’s Cat?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 17, 2012
It needs sorting FAST!!!!!
by: Anonymous

Our cat was killed by a dog, It ran out of control and viciously killed our cat well into our private land. The whole thing was captured on CCTV and the guy even admitted it but NOTHING was or could be done.

The current laws are bogus, the animal welfare act does not protect your animal from other animal attacks unless you can absolutely prove 100% the owner commanded it to do so. I urge everyone to push for change however which way you can, one day this person may come round your way and let his dog run all over your garden killing your cat, dog anything on your property with NOTHING you can do about it in regards to the law.

That includes YOURSELF as currently no law not even the Dangerous Dogs act applies on private property. The RPSCA need to pull their finger out and laws need to be changed NOW!!!

Apr 27, 2011
dogs and cats
by: Anonymous

in our town, we have been told that cats are wild animals and that is the reason why their owners do not have to license them or keep them confined to their own property. the cats have done quite a bit of damage to our gardens, killed all the baby rabbits in our back yard, chase the birds and squirrels and we have no recourse, except to ask our neighbors to keep their cats home and that’s like talking to a wall. we have always had dogs and when our last one passed away at 17 years old after being monitored constantly in her own fenced in back yard, so she wouldn’t hurt a cat, we figured what the hell???? we got another dog, if the cats get in our fenced in back yard and don’t come out in one piece or even alive, whatever. take responsibility for your cats

Oct 07, 2010
Animal laws
by: Dorothy

In reply to the comments by Tracey who says it is not in a dogs nature to kill unless trained, sorry but that is not so. All dogs are descended from wolves who hunt and kill to survive. I have just spoken to a young man who has been ordered by Keighley magistrates to get rid of his Patterdale dog because it killed a cat. This dog is used even by the council apparently to kill rats etc, they do this automatically by their very nature. With nearly 60 years of dog ownership I think I can say I know a little about dogs. Funny isn,t it a driver can run a cat over leave it suffering and drive off and nothing can be done yet when these dogs do something that is natural courts order them to be got rid off. The law wants to make up its mind

Aug 06, 2010
Concerning the Cat Pens and Dog Issue
by: Anonymous

I would like to add that the point here is that he is thinking if the cats were to get in his yard the dog may attack the cats.

Maybe the cats are better in the pens where wild animals can’t attack them. Maybe the owner isn’t making them suffer but trying to keep them safe.

Hay is also a good insulator and it is encouraged for cat bedding to keep them warm in winter conditions. They are fed, they have beds, and apparently the owner doesn’t want them attacked by other cats/animals or hit by a car or disfigured or getting diseases or being stolen. Maybe this owner is only looking out for her pets. Maybe she can’t have them indoors or is allergic or lives with someone who won’t allow them inside, and maybe she thinks giving them to a shelter is crueller and the cages there are smaller and they may be put to sleep. At least they are still alive and they don’t sound like they are abused. Hamsters are kept in hamster cages, and dogs are penned regularly and leashed. Cats in pens made for dogs that are much larger than them doesn’t sound like cruelty given that they are fed and cared for, especially if they get attention, vet care, and have access to interests such as ramps for climbing and posts to scratch so there nails stay healthy.

My only complaint is that there is snow in the food dish which makes me wonder if there is roofing or some sort of shelter in the pen or if it is wide-open. Ice will inetivably get into any water source in winter, so the owner should offer water at least twice a day. Otherwise, she doesn’t sound like she is doing anything wrong.

Apr 20, 2010
To James
by: Ruth

PLEASE contact the RSPCA about those poor cats, you can do it anonymously and you must surely be an animal lover yourself to have a dog.
The RSPCA will say a cat loving concerned passer by alerted them and they are obliged to check the situation out.
The conditions those cats live in don’t sound right to me,those people have a duty of care to their cats to be treated as fitting to their species.
Living in a dog kennel with straw bedding in a small pen and their food covered in snow and their water frozen is failing in that duty of care.What about their litter trays, are they cleaned ? The RSPCA will either educate those people or remove the cats if their conditions are very bad.
I don’t know how you’d stand if your dog did kill a cat but please find it in your heart to do something about those cats as soon as you can as they don’t deserve that life they are being forced to live.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Apr 19, 2010
by: Tracey

I am very concerned and confused.

Firstly you say the cats are penned then kenneled then one strayed into your garden. Er which was it?

How are these cats kept? How can one wander into your garden if they are penned?

When the dishes were frozen did you take any action? i.e. consult an animal welfare organisation?

By the way its not in your dogs nature to kill small animals unless you teach him. Is that the case? If he is as you say a retriever then it is in his nature to do just that; retrieve but not kill.

My concern would be not that my dog would kill the cats but how best I could help these cats that appear to be living like dogs which as Micheal said against our animal welfare laws.

Your questions and statements concern me on many levels.

Apr 19, 2010
A Post Script
by: Michael

I wanted to add something. I think that your neighbours may and probably are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in keeping two cats outside during it seems throughout winter with snow on the ground etc. This will possibly cause suffering and it can be avoided.

I also hate the idea of cats living their lives in pens 8 x 6 feet in dimension. This may be legally acceptable but morally it is hideous to me.

Michael Avatar


What If My Dog Kills My Neighbour’s Cat? — 10 Comments

  1. i am currently being charged with a dog attack and face putting my beloved German shorthair down because she attacked a cat…she was not trained to kill or harm other animals it is her instinct to hunt prey….now i have a fenced yard where she is kept and exercized and she has never tried to dig her wayout however a neighbor kid “unattended” damaged my fence by pulling on it enough till she let my dog out, which is when she got the neighbors cat which is still alive,,anyway i offered to cover the vet bills even though i feel the kid and her parents are at fault for trespassing,destruction of private property,,and unlawfully freeing my pet…however my offer wasn’t good enough and am now preparing for trial…the point i would like to make is dogs,like cats are predatory animals,,cats like dogs hunt and kill prey smaller than them,,,if you dont want something happening to your pet take steps to protect them,,nature is nature whos gonna sue who when it happens to be a stray,,or wild predatory animal getting your cat???shall we start taking cat owners to court for our favorite bunnies getting attacked,,,only god has control over the creatures he created,i would never keep a dog that bit a human but seriously to be sentenced to lethal injection,,,people do way worse things,,,shes a gentle loving dog that like so many look at cats as prey.

    • Hi Laura. I can’t really offer any advice to you. If you are being charged it is a criminal matter and you should have a lawyer appointed to help your defense. In the UK people get legal funding assistance and a lawyer is appointed to defend the person. I hope the same thing happens in the USA. I would expect it works that way too because trial must be fair. Good luck.

  2. Hi there I was wondering if anyone could advise me about an incident that occurred in my home recently. A dog entered my house chasing my cat up my stairs and barging passed my boyfriend and myself before cornering my cat in my bathroom and savagely attacked him resulting in my cat having his shoulder dislocated and taking the fur off his front leg and breaking through his skin. My cat had to be treated for shock, transferred to a vets 10 miles away from the vet I took him to locally to be put under anaesthetic to correct his shoulder and then be monitored over nite as due to shock his breathing was too bad to be allowed home.

    The dog in question was not on a lead nor muzzled and this is the second time the dog has entered my property but the first time I intercepted the dog and it scarpered and the owner was no where in sight. I’ve since been told this dog has attacked several other animals. My vet bill climbed to just over £600 and at first the dog owner said he would pay but now won’t answer his phone. I contacted the police who phoned the owner but he hung up the phone and the police have said there’s nothing more they can do, is this correct? Please help.

    • What the police are saying is that it is not a criminal matter. I am not sure they are correct. Police are just not interested. You should ask a solicitor (ideally, as it carries weight) to write to this person if you know his address and demand compensation or you will sue him (the dog’s owner) in the civil courts (small claims probably). A threat will probably shake him out of his arrogant complacency. If you don’t want to see a solicitor just write a letter requesting compensation or else..litigation. I think you will find that the relevant act is The Animals Act 1971. Here are two webpages on similar subjects:


      Common sense dictates that compensation is due. The next time it happens, I would trap the dog and get the RSPCA to take it to a pound. Well that might not work or it might make things worse. But what I mean is that the law (criminal or civil) is a bit of an ass in these situations. It is pretty hopeless so you need to play the game that is presented to you. Try and outsmart this person. Keep it legal but keep it outside the law. How about putting up some sort of barrier? Why is this dog running into your house? That sounds strange to me. Why is the door open? Try and stop this happening and kick this person’s arse at the same time.

      • Thankyou for your advice it is much appreciated and it will help me in to taking the situation further if necessary. I just thought I’d explain why my door is open. I live near a lake where it is frequently used by people walking their dogs, and until recently all the dog walkers I’ve encountered have seemed responsible and in control of there dogs. Since I brought my cats home from Portugal as they were rescue cats I’ve formed a close bond and fear anything bad happening to them and since I’ve heard a few horror stories of peoples cats and dogs being killed in there own gardens near by so everyday when I let my cats out I normally sit on the doorstep and wait til they want to come in as they don’t stray far and return within half hour. Sometimes I leave them for 6 minutes but generally the minute I go inside they follow so then I shut the door. It just so happened on this day it wasn’t to be the case .

        • I see the problem. It is a special problem. Your situation would worry me a bit – all those dogs. The outside is a little dangerous for your cats where you live and your cats are very important to you (great) because you rescued them from Portugal. There is no clear answer. Prevention is better than fixing the problem after the fact. I always suggest a nice enclosure if there is room and enough money etc. A lot of people don’t like them but they are a good compromise. Here is a catio in Holland:


          and in Finland:


          Not as good as going out but safe for the cats and peace of mind for you. Bottom line: you don’t want to be in dispute with people particularly neighbors. You want a bit of peace! Like me.

  3. i see some one say you train a dog to kill your not very clued up on animals are you its funny dogs have teeth in particular canine teeth research these they are for ripping and tearing of raw meat eg was live before they killed it dogs came from wolfs wolfs are not fed they kill to eat if you dog is old then this does not apply however if it is in its prime it will hunt you dont have to teach it you dont teach your child to kill it just dog it indistinctly eg flies spiders small fury animals its only until civilisation is thought they will stop cats bring mice birds home ect does this mean i put my dogs down for attacking cats and my cat down for attacking small animals ? my god some people need not have pets and as for these court cases ********** god y go to court this is not the animals fault you the owner is at fault if you dog attack on some1 else land its your fault if its on your land its not your fault just my opinion most people i know would not like

  4. Sad as it is for cat owners dogs are dogs. Cats kill two million wild birds a year plus mice voles etc. Look on dogs as wildlife conservationists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.