Categories: Animal laws

Double standard concerning dogs and cats under control of owner

Apparently there is a double standard concerning the keeping of dogs and cats. Depending on the local laws (ordinances) and regulations that apply to a town or county in the USA, dogs have to be under the control of the owner at all times while cats are free to roam. That seems unfair to some.

Dogs are a greater potential health hazard to humans than cats. That’s the argument.

This state of affairs is changing as more restrictive laws are introduced in the USA concerning free-roaming cats and cat ownership in general.

The point that people make about this apparent double standard is that free-roaming cats can be a nuisance as far as they are concerned in that they defecate and urinate in public and private areas.

In general cats cannot tresspass on someone’s property but I think you’ll find that in some USA states/counties/cities there are byelaws making it illegal to allow a cat to ‘tresspass’ on a neighbor’s property. That is not to say that a tresspassing cat can be shot; this would also be illegal but in some places they can be legally trapped and presumably taken to a rescue center. These cats may be euthanised in a certain time if not reclaimed.

I see the arguments regarding double standards but I don’t think they exist. The obvious reason for tighter controls on dogs is because they are more dangerous to people in a very direct sense through dog attacks. Free-roaming dogs are more than a mere potential nuisance. They can be life threatening.

Free-roaming cats can arguably cause human health issues through spreading disease but these arguments are exaggerated. To impose laws on cat owners that are similar to those affecting dog owners would be an example of the nanny state: an overcontrolling influence by government.

In the UK cats can free-roam anywhere legally in any place as there are no byelaws in any city or county making it illegal to enter another person’s property. Cats cannot be held to ‘tresspass’ in the UK despite the fact that there is a percentage of the UK human population who don’t like this. The UK domestic cat is not bound by human boundaries.

However, cat owners need to be sensible and responsible. They need to listen to their neighbour’s wishes provided they are reasonable. Sometimes a domestic cat’s movements need to be restricted.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • I agree that people with domesticated cats that they permit outside should be considerate of others' property.

    And, as you point out, letting a cat free-roam without supervision is very risky here. If unsupervised, it may be hours before the caretaker realizes that they aren't around. Then, more hours to days pass as they search and make inquiries. By that time, the cat may have been killed in the shelter already.

    Ofcourse, none of this applies to registered ferals right now.

    There are few cases of free-roaming dogs here. But, as you write again, they are a much bigger threat to other animals and humans as any cat could ever be.

    And, laws should never be the same for both dogs and cats any more than they should be for a murderer and a shoplifter.

Recent Posts

What causes the range of eye colors in cats?

The total amount of melanin (pigment) in the iris of the eye determines the range…

12 mins ago

Guy says: “This year has been rough so I adopted this cat and things have been better”.

The statement sums up the benefits that living with a domestic cat companion can bring…

2 hours ago

Are ionizers safe for cats?

There is a questionmark over whether ionizers are safe for cats. Ionic air purifiers produce…

15 hours ago

Equity release to pay for a catio extension

Equity release is more popular nowadays because a lot of older people have most of…

21 hours ago

Ethical banks in the UK in 2020 and why cat lovers should use them!

How often do we think of alternatives to the high street banks? I don't or…

1 day ago

“Care will kill a cat” – Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson is in the news today! On this day, 22nd September, in 1598, the…

1 day ago