Dog Kills Cat – Law in UK

Introduction: the reason why I am discussing the law in the UK is because in America the answer will be much more complicated because the states make their own law on these sorts of matters. It is almost impossible to comprehensively research these laws on the internet. If a visitor has a specific question concerning a specific state please ask in a comment.

Dog attacks cat
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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As for the UK (but possibly excluding Northern Ireland and Scotland where there could be slight differences), the law is relatively straightforward if your dog kills or injures a cat. The same would apply if your dog attacked and injured a person or assistance dog but the penalties are harsher.

An interesting story highlights the law. A kitten belonging to a lady crawled under a hole in a fence and found himself in her neighbour’s garden. The neighbour owned a dog, a Jack Russell. The dog attacked the cat and killed him. The police said that no crime had been committed as did the RSPCA.

The RSPCA said that in order for an offence to be committed it would have to be proved that the dog owner had encouraged his dog to attack another animal or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the attack or allowed their dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

The website has a page on dogs being dangerously out of control anywhere which appears to extend the RSPCA advice. This means we are referring to dogs out of control in public or private places such as a neighbour’s house or garden or in the dog owner’s home.

A dog would be deemed to be dangerously out of control if it injured someone or made somebody worry that it might injure them. In addition a court might decide that a dog is dangerously out of control if it attacks someone’s animal or if the owner of a companion animal e.g. a cat, believes that their cat could be injured if they tried to stop a dog attacking him/her.

If it went to a criminal court and the dog’s owner (or person in charge of the dog at the time) was convicted of the crime of letting their dog be dangerously out of control he or she could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months or both. In addition the dog owner might not be allowed to own a dog in the future and the dog may be destroyed.

The penalties are more severe when people or assistance dogs are injured.

It seems to me that the matter turns on the intention and behaviour of the dog’s owner. The dog him/herself is obviously innocent and behaving naturally but if the owner is careless or malicious in respect of controlling their dog then they may well be prosecuted in the criminal courts if they allow their dog to kill a cat.

The relevant statutes are, I believe: Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, Dangerous Dogs Act 1989, Dogs Act 1871.

There would also be a potential claim for compensation against the dog owner by the cat owner in the civil courts. Or perhaps the criminal court would make a compensation order.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

30 thoughts on “Dog Kills Cat – Law in UK”

  1. The laws should reflect our values, which for the most part are in favor of preventing dogs from attacking cats. There should be more than sufficient disincentive to force idiots to control their dogs. (Did I say that right?) Meaning extreme punishment. If you consider all the non-violent guys in jail for smoking marijuana, while there being no response to the guys who do like the jack-ass did in this story… People who let their dogs do that are being violent by proxy. How stupid do they think we are?

    1. The ‘idiots’ that let their cats roam and defecate wherever get what they deserve if their cat wanders onto a property where the owner has a dog. Cat owners should be responsible enough to control and clean up after their animals in the same way dog owners have to.

      1. Watson, all you manage to do is promote pain and suffering, killing and grief, then waste people’s time trying to justify it. You’re a sorry excuse for a human being.

        1. Sorry, not sorry. I don’t have to smell cat urine in my garden nor to remove their leftovers. Even less I do have to collect the mices and pay the bill for pest controll because my neighours cats bring live mices around the house. I’m sick of pathetic excuses for the nuinsance made by those animals. And as long as is in my property, they can fck off if my dog gets them. There’s a thing. You’re affraid of the wolf? Don’t get in the forest. With all due respect. I love animals but I hate those who create distress.

          1. noneofyour business

            Cats are vile creatures that serve no purpose on this planet
            Next doors neighbours cat is constantly winding my dog up – sitting there high up where my dog cant get him and makes my dog really mad. Well one day he’s gonna get the fleabag and I hope he does. He needs no encouragement from me. The cat’s doing that all by itself by teasing him. And I’m sick of the cat 5hit and the smell of it.

            1. “Cats are vile creatures that serve no purpose on this planet” – entirely wrong and you know it. Hundreds of millions of people benefit from the presence of their cat companion as I do.

  2. Christine Morgan

    Saluki, Lurcher type of dogs attacked and killed a cat . One of the dogs broke free from the leading. The other one wasn’t on a lead. It has been said the owners have let the dogs off on purpose watching them chase a cat. Thankfully that one didn’t die. The dogs look under fed . Hope the law gets justice for the ladies cat who found out by a witness on facebook . What is the best way to handle this please

    1. Thank you for commenting. The first question I have is whether this dog owner is known in the location. He may well be known as a person who allows his dogs to act in a dangerous manner. If therefore you can get a name that would help. Secondly if you can find out where he lives that would also help. Thirdly it would do no harm to call the police as he may be on their database because he may have done this sort of thing before. As I say in the article if you can demonstrate to the police that this dog owner has the intention (or is careless) to let his dogs attack cats then the police should investigate which may lead to an arrest, charge and a prosecution.

      There is then the question of compensation under civil laws. If a cat has been injured or killed compensation will be due. A successful criminal prosecution would make a claim for compensation in the civil courts certain to be successful. The only question is how much money is due in damages. Nowadays civil courts tend to take into account the emotional connection between the cat owner and their cat. On a purely monetary basis a random bred domestic cat is not worth that much but the emotional connection adds significant value to a claim for compensation.

      You could theoretically sue in compensation in the civil courts without a criminal prosecution and you need to know the name of the person and their address to file papers properly which can be done online as this would be a small claims action in tort. It would be negligence and/or nuisance which are both tort (civil wrongs). I hope this helps. You might get the advice of a citizens advice bureau.

      Don’t let this person get away with it. If more than one person has been involved with this dog owner then they should get together. He needs to be stopped quite clearly.

  3. Thank you Michael. I do believe that the monster’s life must be pretty miserable and that could be seen as some kind of justice for my sweet cat. I reckon that the lives of those who abuse other species as well as their own must have had something pretty foul happen to them somewhere along the line. That’s not any kind of excuse, there’s always a choice not to harm. I can’t see any reason why someone should hurt a defenceless being, unless they had rage or hurts that were unresolved. At least my cat’s life is better now, and always has the possibility of being better, we both work hard to find ways of building his confidence, we try and learn as much as we can. I know his attacker’s life will never get better. His misery is a form of justice, but there are no amends for any other beings he may have hurt.

  4. Dear Michael, Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate your concern and happily give my permission to use my comment in an article.

    I have just discussed giving you the personal details of the attacker with my partner, who reminded me how I stopped him going to the attacker’s house and having strong words with him just after the event. I was very scared of reprisals then, and I still am. My partner also reminded me that I also am in the stabilisation phase of a serious illness now and trying to live as quietly as possible. Therefore, I do not feel able to reveal the horrible man’s name, though I really wish it was possible to do so. We live in the west of England in a medium sized village full of commuters who work in the nearby city.

    We moved here nearly 30 years ago, we have seen the village change enormously since then, thousands of lego-land style houses have taken up old farm land and encroached on the character of the place and the beautiful countryside.

    It used to be a village where many cats would be seen during the day, sunning themselves in gardens or communing in our church yard. Now you rarely see a cat outside.

    A few years ago there was a spate of cats being poisoned by anti-freeze but there was no pattern or proving it was deliberate. Most likely it was “carelessness in use” of the dreadful stuff was the official line. A litter of kittens ( a few days old) was found in one of the roads a few years ago, each found separately and taken to the village vets. The Mummy Cat was never located. It hasn’t been a village known for cruelty to animals or neglect of them. The event with my cat being attacked was such a shock, the village didn’t feel so safe for us anymore.

    I know well, the urge to name someone who is so malignant that they would hurt an innocent animal, but I dare not publish his name online as I am sure there would be retaliation from him, towards my cats, my partner and myself. There is also the matter that he has not been found guilty in a court of law, hence naming him might be considered libellous? Please forgive my seeming cowardice on this, but we have to live here, and given the nature of villages, I am sure you understand.

    I truly appreciate your passionate urge to speak to this man. I have been told that he has always been this way over cats, he apparently became worse when his wife died in hospital and he pursued a case of neglect with the local health trust. His wife was known as a very nice person by many, I never met her.

    I believe, if named and shamed, he would no doubt be claiming victim status loudly as he has depression. He frequently tells his neighbours that he is “lonely” I can think of no end for him that would not drag me down to his level, but I have wished him all hell on earth for what he did to my sweet cat, and for any other cats he may have hurt or killed.

    Thank you again Michael for your offered help and also for your website which is always such a good read and so educational on such a wide range of issues concerning beloved felines.

    Your support has done me a world of good. Your work has done cats the same


    1. I’ll do the article tomorrow and of course will totally respect your wishes. It’s my pleasure. I hate cat abuse and all animal abuse. I hate ignorant people who are insensitive to animal welfare. There needs to be some way for you and your cat to find justice in this episode of your lives. Perhaps you won’t get it.

    1. I published your article and forgot to change the date until after publishing which is why your notification of the article has the incorrect date 😉 Phew.

  5. In August 2017 one of my dear cats was attacked by a known cat hater in our village. His femoral head was kicked out. it caused horrific soft tissue damage and my poor darling endured months of cage rest and rehabilitation, along with dread complications such as developing recurrent urinary inflamation and having to be catheterised several times, which led to a severe and life threatening enterococcus infection.

    My cat had the habit of sitting on our gate post, he was well known amongst the dog walkers of our village, who regularly stopped to say hello to him with their dogs. He is a dog loving cat too.

    The cat hater, fosters dogs for a well known UK dog charity. He has fostered a dog who is terrified of cats for years. He forces this dog to walk right next to any cat he sees whilst out walking. This is obviously the wrong thing to do and has compounded this poor dog’s terror of cats.

    My dear cat often would jump down from the post, tail up, chirruping to greet his dog friends. He has never attacked a dog.

    The day after I found my cat (5 minutes out of my sight) in the kitching, circling backwards, screaming and hissing in agony, holding one dislocated back leg up, the man who attacked him caught me in my drive way, as I unloaded my cat from his daily trips to the vet with him.

    He aggressively shouted at me, trying to poke me in the chest with his gnarly old finger, bellowing that my cat was savage and attacked him and his dog. I was petrified and only concerned with getting my cat in his carrier (still in shock from he previous days attack) inside. I did manage to tell him that my cat loves dogs, and has never attacked any living being apart from a few mice, but since yesterday, he is now seriously injured.

    The cat hater laughed his head off, and shouted “YEP ISN’T HE HAR HAR HAR” and actually ran from my drive, whistling his off lead massive GSD cross foster dog after him. To me this was an admission of guilt. After this, I spoke with the vets, who as this cat kicker was a client, could not comment. This I found very distressing. They would not even produce a report for me of my cat’s injuries.

    Next stop, the Dog Warden, who laughed. He relayed to me a story abotu a judge in our courts, who in the 1980s set a precident that “dogs will always chase small furry animals”
    I gave the name of the attacker to the Dog Warden who said he would speak to the man in person.

    He didn’t, he went on holiday, sent a letter to the man, stating what I had alleged and asking what he had to say about it and also for the attacker to ring the Warden’s office with an explanation.

    The attacker, eventually rang the Dog Warden with some nonsense about “seeing an altercation between his dog and “a cat” and suggested that the cat was hit by a car. My cat had no injury that would correlate to an RTA. I have owned cats all of my life, worked in rescue and seen many RTAs. My vets confirmed this was no RTA but most likely a kick from a human foot.

    I had to ring the Dog Warden seven times to get him to write a letter to me containing his findings. He referred to this letter containing scant information, as being a full enquiry and investigation and deemed the matter closed. He believed the lies told by the hateful man who attacked and seriously injured my cat.

    The attacker is well known in the village as a cat hater – alas, not to me, until my dear cat was so badly injured. The man (if I can refer to him as such, he doesn’t deserve the title) is a bitter widow, who has no visitors or friends, because the dogs he fosters are unsocialised and dangerous. He suffers from depression and spends most of his life writing angry letters about nothing to the local press. Many cat owners in the village are scared to challenge or report him as he knows many in local parish and local authority power. His wife used to be a village warden, hence the connections.

    I was somewhat intimidated by this history of his and could not bring myself to name him to the charity that he fosters for. I did speak to them, but held back his name and my location as I feared reprisals. The chairty told me that they would curtail his fostering contract if they knew who he was as such a person would bring a bad name to the charity and its work.

    The result is that I had to spend a total of £8,000 on a cat proof fence and veterinary care for my cat. His bladder remains delicate and he is prone to blockages due to the original tissue damage and the scarring it caused. The even damaged the burgeoning good relationship my cat had with his house brother – a recently adopted traumatised cat. They have never been the same together since. My poor cat has lost so much confidence since he was attacked.

    During his rehab’ period, I walked him on a harness around quiet parts of the village. So many dog walkers recognised him and asked what happened? I told them, and every single one mentioned the attacker by name. I did not have to. I also heard rumours of cats being killed by him using poison such as anti-freeze.

    It seems that the law accords cats little respect at all. Althought I have never met him, I have been told that our Dog Warden is a grossly obese man with little regard for cats, who sits in his office all day eating. by all accounts doing very little, except ordering his assistants to go out and catch stray dogs. He is also known not to care about cats.

    I didn’t bother reporting this to the RSPCA as I do not believe that the charity would have done anything as it was not reported in the press that my cat was attacked.

    The attacker of my cat changed our lives forever. We live differently now. When we get into our cars, dog walkers ask how our cat is. None have met our other cat, who has never been out of our now fenced garden.

    Our entire lives are concerned with the safety of our cats now. The attacker, has been seen by me twice in our road since the attack (during the week after he attacked my cat) and both times he ran off. He is elderly, very fit from all the dog walking. It has been fed back to me that he is scared to come into our road now.

    I don’t believe that there would have been a different response from the Dog Warden if our darling, gentle sweet cat had been killed by this man or his poor terrified dog.

    We aren’t really a nation of animal lovers at all.

    My faith in human nature took a terminal dive after this event.

    My sweet cat still loves all people who visit us and still loves any dogs they bring on visits.

    1. Hi, I have read your comment word for word and am shocked but not surprised. I agree with your conclusions at the end of the comment. I would like to convert your comment into an article. Please give me permission. If you don’t respond to my comment I will presume if I may that you have granted me permission to publish it as an article. I would like to get this person myself. He’s obviously a terrible person who needs to be punished in some way. Personally, I would like to name him especially as his name is so well known. I would also like somebody to photograph him so that I can publish his photograph on my website. I wouldn’t be frightened of him. I would stand up to him because it seems to me that in the past people have been scared of him and this has given him confidence to behave as he has. He needs to be stopped. I would like to help in that regard but at the same time do not want to upset decent people and exacerbate their anxiety about his presence.

    2. I’d like to ask where you live. If you live not too far from South West London I’d like to come up and talk to this person.

    3. Your comment is now an article. Thanks for a compelling story. So sad though. And I hate, I mean really hate, men like the one who hurt your cat.

  6. I’ll probably get ripped for this like I did when I was glad the raccoon that disemboweled my ferals mums kittens was killed,I hate,aye I hate Jack Russell’s,my hubby brought one home several years ago and I was fostering a wee kitten at the time and when the kitten ran over to wot she thought might be a new friend she was killed right in front of me,I screamed and picked up that dog by the skin on his back and I had plans to throw it in the road,in the heat of the moment I didn’t care I just wanted it to suffer and even though it took time for me to get past wot happened I still today hate that breed and this story brought it all back.

    1. JR are terriers thus hunting dogs with the instinct to chase and kill. The Jack Russell was acting like what it is. This is the issue with many pets today. Dogs and cats crossed with wild animals to make designer breeds. People tend to buy what has eye appeal or is currently trendy with little thought to the animals needs. Unless it’s a whackadoodle breed all dogs were bred to have a function. JR are NOT lap dogs.

    2. Did you spend time in jail and pay harsh fines for animal-cruelty? (Clearly you are very capable of that as you’ve confessed so clearly.) Ignorance of the breed is no excuse. Were you keeping a pet-alligator and did the same you’d be sitting in jail for your ignorance and criminal negligence of willfully feeding a live kitten to another animal.

      1. Ye were not there lady,ye didn’t see that JR kill her right in front of me,how dare ye,ye can bloody well kiss my royal irish arse and if I had to I would do it again,ye don’t know me,ye don’t know how many yrs I’ve been in cat rescue and TNR,sod off ye wankette.

        1. It happens so fast you really can’t do a thing. I had two loose dogs run around the back of my house and shred a cat sleeping by me almost before I could even stand up.
          I don’t have a single friend or acquaintance that have dogs and cats that haven’t had a nasty encounter for the cats in the house. Even the ones raised together.

  7. In NM I can shoot any dog harassing livestock or myself. It gets a bit more complicated if your pet like a cat is being murdered by a loose dog. At that point you do what your instinct tells you and remove the dog from the picture because most likely you have put yourself in danger trying to save your pet.
    Our specific ordinance calls loose/estray dogs a public menace and health concern.
    The real issue here is dog owners are never really held accountable. Most aren’t worth suing as they are judgment proof and in civil court you’re stuck getting your judgment. The law will not collect it.
    We need to amend our laws where negligent pet owners can no longer house a dog or cat along with anyone else living at that residence.
    Right now the only entities that pay for pet ownership negligence are the livestock, pet and human victims and the offending animal while the crappy pet owner simply replaces their destroyed unit with a new one, rinse and repeat.

  8. Compared (or in contrast) to you Dangerous Dog act, I think everywhere here in the states our laws are way too lax. I haven’t heard of any laws that approach yours. We, as a country, just don’t care about anything anymore, though there’s a lot of complaining but no listening.

    1. There’s some truth in what you say but the UK can do better on enforcement issues. That said we are pretty good. There have been quite a few successful prosecutions of dog owners where their dog or dogs have attacked cats, babies or adults.

      1. Recently you have put up articles about cats being allowed to roam. Cats being threatened for being on someone else’s property. This story ties right into that. Animals that roam at will are in danger. Today it was two dead dogs on the road. I know/knew them by sight. Always running loose. Another negligent owner like my MIL/FIL/SIL. Their right to let their pets roam because we live in the country superseded the rights of property owners including vehicle damage and the safety of their own pets.
        Aside from the occasional thing that goes wrong no matter what most of these deaths, bites etc. are caused by only one thing. Human negligence.

        1. Your conclusion cannot be denied. The more educated I have become about cats and cat welfare the more I have realised that cats should not be allowed to roam freely. Too dangerous.

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