I’ll keep this short as it’s my style. The short answer is no, there is no legal recourse in my view which allows a person to stop a neighbour’s cat fouling in their backyard or garden.
For sure there are potential legal solutions but I don’t think the solutions are genuinely viable or that they can be managed to a successful conclusion. Obviously the law varies from country to country but I’d bet that in the West you won’t find a legal solution.
There is the law of trespass, for example. In the UK the law with respect to trespass of domestic animals is found in the Animals Act 1971. The Act does not apply to cats. That is the end, therefore, of this possible legal action. If a cat cannot trespass then neither can the cat’s owner be held vicariously responsible for what the cat does outside the home when they enter another’s property.
There’s also the law of nuisance. Both trespass and nuisance are torts which are civil wrongs. In this instance a person would have to try and sue under private nuisance. These actions are brought by individuals in the civil courts. A judge could grant damages and an injunction (an order which prevents the offending owner from allowing his cat to enter upon his neighbour’s property).
However, the law of nuisance insists that the claimant has to suffer a material discomfort or annoyance. This presents a barrier to most claimants unless a lot of cats are entering his/her property and fouling on a large scale which is unlikely to be the case. A claimant would also have to consider the expense, anxiety and antagonism of taking his neighbour to court.
In the UK there are orders called antisocial behaviour orders. I don’t think these are suitable in respect of cats fouling on another’s property. Sometimes, however, the keeping of animals can be the subject of an antisocial behaviour order in the UK. This is a civil order (i.e. non-criminal) made against someone who is in engaged in antisocial behaviour. They are normally made by local authorities and the police.
To be perfectly honest, I cannot see a court granting an antisocial behaviour order against a person who allows their cat to foul on another’s property unless it is on a substantial scale by which I mean a large number of cats are doing it. This is also unlikely.
Accordingly, as mentioned in the introduction, there are no practical legal solutions to preventing a cat from fouling on another’s property. This forces the person to take practical action with deterrence which are discussed on these pages: smells cat hate and sounds cat hate. Deterrents are not that successful to be honest. How about a good fence?
A person who becomes annoyed about a cat trespassing upon their property cannot harm the cat as this would amount to criminal activity. They cannot take the cat from his/her owner as this would amount to theft as cats are considered to be chattels by which I mean inanimate objects under the law of the UK. The same would apply to the USA. Don’t listen to cat haters who say you can kill cats entering your property (other than exceptionally rare circumstances). You can’t.
There are a number of people who would argue that the law should be smartened up to accommodate cats trespassing upon landowner’s property but the general consensus amongst the lawmakers in many countries (perhaps all countries at the time of this short post) is that it is unnecessary to make laws of this type.
Input from others is greatly welcomed….
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