How to kill a cat – criminal behavior or not?

People search for “How to Kill a Cat” on Google. In my opinion, people who do this are usually committing a criminal offence as they are conspiring to commit an act of cruelty to an animal. In the UK (and the USA legislation is broadly similar) under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence, punishable on conviction with a prison sentence of 5 years max. and/or a fine or £20,000, to commit an act of cruelty to an animal.

Mishow a cat shooter and killer

Mishow a cat shooter and killer.

RELATED: Audio recording of Steven Mishow admitting to shooting neighbors’ cats

People who want to kill a cat are the kind of people who probably hate cats. And the kind of people who hate cats are people who are, frankly, ignorant about cats or they are scared of them.

They have probably learned to hate cats from their parents or siblings. Their parents probably learned to hate cats from their parents and not one of them has asked themselves why ?. Sure, they may have their reasons, but each one can be countered very easily.

A classic reason to hate cats and kill cats is because they are wandering and roaming on to other people’s property and then piss and sh*t on someone else’s land (garden for example).

The counterargument to that is this: why blame a cat for acting naturally when the root cause of the problem is us; people? If it is a stray cat, they were once companion cats. The person who kept the cat didn’t do a good enough job, that’s all. And there are ways to help prevent cats trespassing.

Feral cats are our problem. Humans need to own the problem and behave with integrity. The feral cat does not choose to be feral. These cats are meant to be companion domestic animals living in homes. They are acting naturally in a very unnatural and difficult environment of our making under circumstances also of our making. If people want to vent some hatred and anger about cats sh*ting on grass etc., they should do it against the person who keeps the cat or who has abandoned the cat or who has acted in some irresponsible way towards the cat.

In short, we, the people of this world, have created cats that might be hated by ignorant people. These people might conspire to kill them by searching for, “how to kill a cat”. This is patently and totally wrong, morally and I say legally.

Obviously if a single individual actually kills a cat in a non-authorized environment (i.e. not animal testing – a crime in my opinion however) then that person has committed a crime.

I am not going to explain in detail how to hurt a cat. It is wrong and I would ask all people who are considering it to rethink and ask themselves if it is right to do this. And if you still think it is right, you need to get educated. And if you think I am preaching, I am because someone has to.

However, below I touch on some prominent issues concerning the killing of cats. There are many ways to achieve the same result but these keep popping up on the Internet which is why I have selected them.


It is very easy to return to the attitude of the citizens of Australia when writing about how to kill a cat because there is mass slaughter in that country. You might know that in Australia hundreds of thousands of feral cats are shot dead annually or they are poisoned under government sanctioned programs. So shooting is one way of killing cats. In America there are probably hundreds of thousands of shooters who like to use their guns against feral cats (often a .22 calibre rifle).

RELATED: Speaking with an Australian lady about feral cats and Australia’s native species

There is a difference between America and Australia in this regard, however. In America it is almost always a crime to shoot a feral cat with a rifle. A lot of shooters say that it is legal but it isn’t. You normally shoot a cat at a good distance. You won’t know whether you are killing a feral or domestic cat. You might be killing some’s pet cat. For this reason, jurisdictions in America make it illegal to shoot feral cats unless under particular and specific circumstances such as perhaps to protect livestock. There may be some isolated laws about having the right to kill a cat that comes onto your property. But by and large shooting feral cats in America has to be illegal because the authorities have got to protect domestic cats. It is impractical to take pot shots at cats. That said there are some aberrations such as in NZ.

RELATED: Is it legal to shoot feral cats in NY?

In Australia it is legal to shoot feral cats. And they don’t mind if the domestic cat is shot dead at the same time. This is because the state jurisdictions urgently want to get rid of all feral cats to protect native species. Perhaps the most imaginative state-sponsored scheme for killing cats is to chuck frozen sausages out of a helicopter which have been laced with 1080 poison causing a painful death. Once again, the authorities don’t mind. They actually like it because of this desire to get rid of them.


Perhaps the most common way that individuals who hate cats kill them is through poisoning. Poison such as antifreeze and rat poison are used. The former is popular because cats lick it up. They do not treat it as a poison. Manufacturers should add a bittering agent. I have a page on cat poison on another site which you can read by clicking on this link.

Cat hoarding

Cat hoarders often kill a percentage of their large number of cats through negligence. They can’t cope because the number of cats in their care is too high. They neglect their cats and they might die of an untreated illness. Death by negligence is not uncommon. This is killing your cat. Sometimes callous and cruel owners abandon their cat in a home that they have also abandoned. The cats can’t get out and they don’t have food. The cats starve. That is another way to kill a cat.

Abandon a cat to an animal shelter

A subtle way of killing a cat is to abandon your perfectly healthy cat at a cat shelter where the cat is stressed and misbehaves. These cats are normally calm and pleasant but the stress of being in a shelter temporarily changes their personality to make them unadoptable. They end up being euthanised, a euphemism for killing. That’s an indirect way of killing a cat.


Extraordinarily, some people take their elderly cat to their veterinarian and ask him or her to end the life of their cat. They simply want rid of him and they ask their veterinarian to put their cat sleep. The veterinarian is complicit in the killing of a cat under these circumstances. I don’t know the percentage but I would expect a very high percentage of veterinarians to reject any such request as it goes against their oath. It would be immoral and unethical to comply with a request of this nature. If they do kill a client’s healthy cat on request, they would be committing a crime in my opinion. However, they will never be prosecuted. It just doesn’t happen.


Unlike in Australia and America it is very hard to obtain a rifle or pistol in the UK because of restrictive gun laws. Therefore, in terms of shooting a cat, the most common way cats are killed is through a young man normally entertaining himself by shooting at outdoor cats with an air rifle. This injures the cat, sometimes severely, which can lead to the death occasionally.

I have written about some ways that some people employ to kill a cat. All of them should not be contemplated. They are all crimes in one way or another. Deliberately killing a cat other than through euthanasia by a qualified person is nearly always going to be a crime. Although it must depend on where a person lives. In some countries the laws are either very lax or enforcement is almost non-existent. Under these circumstances people get away with killing a cat despite it being a crime under the country’s legislation.


Before the no-kill movement, and even today to a much lesser degree, millions of cats were killed every year through various methods of euthanasia including gas chambers. The no-kill movement significantly reduced the number of unnecessary deaths of shelter cats. So, one way that cats were killed in large numbers in America was gas chambers at shelters. They were phased out in a very gradual process. To the best of my knowledge there are either none or one remaining in the USA as at the date of this post which is February 2022.

The Humane Society’s photo of a gas chamber that Heber City Animal Services used in the past, which was removed in 2014

The Humane Society’s photo of a gas chamber that Heber City Animal Services used in the past, which was removed in 2014


Organised euthanasia at veterinary clinics or shelters is probably the single biggest method of killing cats in the West. Millions of healthy, well-behaved and adoptable cats have been deliberately killed by this method at shelters because the cats were unwanted and unadopted. They use barbiturates to kill cats this way and they are euphemistically put to sleep. Organisations like PETA believe that it is better to humanely euthanise a cat rather than sustain their misery in feral cat colonies.

Creating a scenario under which it is inevitable that a cat is killed

I’m thinking of two situations but there are more. You are a farmer in Africa. Your farmland is on the land of a large cat like a cheetah. There is conflict between cheetah and human over livestock. The farmer shoots dead the cheetah, to protect his livestock. And in a similar situation, you get captive big cats in zoos which are sometimes shot because they’ve instinctively attacked a visitor to the zoo who managed to get over the enclosure wall into the enclosure or stuff their hand through an enclosure fence. The cat often ends up being killed by zoo officials under these circumstances. I think this scenario applies to “how to kill a cat”. Part of the killing is the careless preparation for the need to kill which would not exist but for the inevitable human-cat conflict.

More reading:

  1. I hate cats
  2. How to kill cats humanely or not

Michael Avatar

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

You may also like...

21 Responses

  1. Topher911 says:

    I have two cats (I have no illusion about what they are or why they are here). Recently (last night), I found that there was a cat roaming around. My initial reaction was to leave something out that would have a terminal affect on him/her. Michael’s original post made some valid points namely that no matter how disturbing they may be the problem, that problem was created by humans (not us but 100’s of years ago). This has me rethinking my approach.

    Killing might be the simplest method but that does not make it the right method.

    There are more than two ways to look at this. It is not RIGHT to terminate the life of any creature simply because it is simplest for us. Nor it is a good idea to perpetuate bad behavior in a loose cat, nor get mad at someone else for not being on your side about it. Consider this… If you were being bothered by a wild animal what would you do?

    If you are only posting negativity to rile someone else then shame on you. If you really think that way, then you might need to seek some help. At the same time shame on the someone letting them rile you, no one else’s response should have any affect on you.

    Now, I am not for or against terminating a cat’s life but I can see I need to rethink it which might cause me to take different action.

  2. Charm says:

    This article is right. Cats were made to be faithful companions, not to be left on the streets. A cat’s only chance of survival on the streets is “kill, whatever I can find”.
    If you were a hobo, you’d look for food, right? Miss Kitty on the road there feels no different.

  3. Jenv86 says:

    OMG i just came across this looking for a different article… I think it is very sick that people think that they can kill cats just for whatever reason. I am going to have to say a prayer for humanity, this is so EVIL!!

  4. Maybe these people who are sooo concerned about the treatment of cats should take a trip to Vietnam or another country in Southeast Asia. I can not believe how some think that a “cat” has the same rights as humans do and that it should be a crime when a cat is killed. Cats are soooo destructive to the natural environment it is outrageous and I don’t hear complaints about the thousands of other species being decimated by the domestic house cat. Here is a way to get rid of the neighborhood bothersome feline, crush a few light bulbs and mix that with some tunafish. Place this out along the areas the cats tend to frequent and there ya go…..soon….no more cats.

    • Michael says:

      Bobby, you are a cruel fool because you have missed one obvious point: humans are thousands of times more destructive of the natural environment than cats.

      Why don’t you feed some light bulbs to some people instead. Or better still someone should do it to you.

      • Eye sucker says:

        I agree with bobby cats are no good they just use people to get wot they want once they got wot they want they don’t give a toss about you unlike a dog they appreciate every thing you do for them and love you for if you will never get this from a useing cat.

        • Eye sucker, you suck 😉 What a crappy comment.

        • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

          Well eye sucker if you would rather have a panting fawning yes man of a dog than a dignified cat then what the hell are you doing on a cat lovers web site?

          • Eye sucker says:

            Well Ruth I do have a cat I bought it for my girlfriend it’s a Somali cost me £450 but it’s like all cats no matter wot breed it’s a useing peace of crap I would prefur a dog over a useing moggy any day.

  5. Billy goat says:

    Cats suck , good for nothing creatures , but make for great target practice , all cats are soo pitiful they don’t deserve to live , and if it don’t die the first shot, wait a minute and try again.

    Note from Michael (site owner): I have published your comment to show decent sensible people what kind of nasty person is out there. I guess most of us know but some people need to be warned.

  6. t says:

    i agree with this article …thank you for sharing…relieved to know this is not what i thought it was.

  7. Peter Hartas says:

    Cat owners simply refuse to accept that their cat (and this is all cats) kill indiscriminately, it’s their nature and I don’t blame the cats. However there are simply too many cats in the UK with the result that wildlife in general is being decimated at an alarming rate, every day I see two or three local cats hunting in the area around my house and they have killed two broods of birds in my garden. So, what’s the solution, well in my opinion there is only one effective solution and that is to simply find a way of killing all cats in all areas. There is no good reason to have and care for a cat, if you need a companion, get a parrott or a rat or something similar which you can keep indoors and not allow to impact on the environment.
    I know this all sounds very cruel, but it’s the only way because no cat owner can control how their cat behaves, ALL cats are are born killers (it’s natural to them) but we should not allow them to continue.
    How to kill them, antifreeze works but it is a slow painfull death and if your caught you could be in trouble so maybe invent a virus like Myxymitosis that kills rabbits, anyone who does this should be knighted.
    But seriously all cats have got to go.

    • Topher911 says:

      Peter, you are right. Cats do kill by nature, but not indiscriminately. They eat what they kill, they do not kill for pleasure. Terminating the life of a cat (or a dog) does not address the reason there are a ton of cats in the first place.

      Humans thought is was a good idea to domesticate them and now they are over running us. So who is at fault? The human race or the cats? The solution is to address the cause, the cause is related to how humans (as a population) treated cats.

Leave a Reply

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