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.

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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • “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. 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

    • 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


    • 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.

    • 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.


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