Can I legally stop a cat fouling in my garden (yard)?

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.

Cat lawyer
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Cat lawyer

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).

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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….

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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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.

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13 Responses

  1. Casey Miller says:

    This is why everyone just uses far more cost-effective and swift methods to permanently stop someone’s cat from fouling anyone’s yard ever again, including the owner’s yard. Too bad, so sad. Notice how well all the rose-bushes are growing everywhere lately — from all that wonderful and free FURtilizer.

  2. Found it. It’s called “PetSafe SSScat”. It’s $20 on Amazon, but may be cheaper on EBay or elsewhere.

  3. I think the best way to prevent a cat from digging in a yard is to cover the precious flowers or veggies with chicken wire. I have next door neighbors who do that, and it works well. The flowers grow through the wire. And they lift the wire to get the veggies. It wont work for everyone, but can provide a harmless barrier, if the wire ends are tucked in.

    I haven’t researched this, but there may be other deterrents that can be placed nearby. I do empathize with people not wanting cat poop in their garden. They might also provide a separate sand box for the wayward kitties, and put some of the poop in there to attract them.

    Oh, I just remembered that there are “air dispenser cans” that sense movement, and shoot a puff of air, which might only take a few times to keep the kitties out. They sell them on Amazon, but I can’t recall the exact name. Maybe someone knows about them.

  4. Irish Cornaire says:

    Had a hateful neighbor threaten me once with killing my outside cat colony and with the short fuse I have when someone threatens my colony I could have escalated the situation worse but for the safety of my colony I told him that I will out of my own pocket will purchase a eco-friendly cat deterrent and I did and it worked,just go to the link I’m providing and purchase these items,they are not pricey.

    • Irish, I remember reading this recently as a way to keep cats off furniture. It would seem to work in the garden too. But would need to be re-applied. Or some rags could be soaked in it, put around the perimeter.

      Also, planting rosemary around the perimeter might work, but most annoyed neighbors wouldn’t bother with that.

    • M E King says:

      How interesting. The Ortho I bought had a very pungent rosemary smell to it. It was around 16 bucks and lasted a few weeks even with some heavy rain.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Thanks Irish and well done in keeping your cool 😉

  5. M E King says:

    I long ago found the zen of unwanted animal waste in my yard , walkway and driveway. I heave it back into my SILs property from whence it came down I know not where. Hopefully where she walks.
    Ortho makes a great critter ridder that is non toxic and has worked for me. And I am allowed to use humane traps on stray animals and transport them to the shelter closest to my home.
    Sound harsh. She doesn’t vaccinate, worm, use flea treatments or S/N her pets. When the deficate over here you can step in something and perhaps not notice and drag their funk into your home.
    If you want your neighbor to stop simply let them know you have a webcam and plan on uploading their pet soiling your garden. This of course is after asking nicely for some time.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I like the advice in the last para ME. Nice thoughts.

      • M E King says:

        The YouTube threat of shame can work. With sane people you can usually come to a joint meeting of the minds and find a solution that makes everyone reasonably happy.


    I think it’s prudent that the offended neighbor simply understand the animal and endeavor to make their property undesirable by keeping it watered, etc. Dry, loose dirt is attractive to cats. Just keep it to a minimum or allow a small area available to the cats as far from the dwelling as possible, then scoop it up when routinely attending the yard. If it’s well landscaped with grass and covered with weed barrier and decorative rocks, the cats won’t want to or can’t hassle with it, and they’ll go elsewhere. To that effect the owners of those cats that go outside should make an area of their own yard attractive for their cats to go, and maintain it themselves. Adding some sand to the soil makes it easy to dig and scoop. People are such punitive control freaks, thinking everything is only orderly by way of force or threat. We need to think from the animal’s perspective to help it live with us the way we want.

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