How to kill a cat – criminal behavior or not?

People search for “How to Kill a Cat” on Google. In my opinion, people who do this are usually committing a criminal offence as they are conspiring to commit an act of cruelty to an animal. In the UK (and the USA legislation is broadly similar) under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence, punishable on conviction with a prison sentence of 5 years max. and/or a fine or £20,000, to commit an act of cruelty to an animal.

Mishow a cat shooter and killer
Mishow a cat shooter and killer.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

RELATED: Audio recording of Steven Mishow admitting to shooting neighbors’ cats

People who want to kill a cat are the kind of people who probably hate cats. And the kind of people who hate cats are people who are, frankly, ignorant about cats or they are scared of them.

They have probably learned to hate cats from their parents or siblings. Their parents probably learned to hate cats from their parents and not one of them has asked themselves why 😒. Sure, they may have their reasons, but each one can be countered very easily.

A classic reason to hate cats and kill cats is because they are wandering and roaming on to other people’s property and then piss and sh*t on someone else’s land (garden for example).

The counterargument to that is this: why blame a cat for acting naturally when the root cause of the problem is us; people? If it is a stray cat, they were once companion cats. The person who kept the cat didn’t do a good enough job, that’s all. And there are ways to help prevent cats trespassing.

Feral cats are our problem. Humans need to own the problem and behave with integrity. The feral cat does not choose to be feral. These cats are meant to be companion domestic animals living in homes. They are acting naturally in a very unnatural and difficult environment of our making under circumstances also of our making. If people want to vent some hatred and anger about cats sh*ting on grass etc., they should do it against the person who keeps the cat or who has abandoned the cat or who has acted in some irresponsible way towards the cat.

In short, we, the people of this world, have created cats that might be hated by ignorant people. These people might conspire to kill them by searching for, “how to kill a cat”. This is patently and totally wrong, morally and I say legally.

Obviously if a single individual actually kills a cat in a non-authorized environment (i.e. not animal testing – a crime in my opinion however) then that person has committed a crime.

I am not going to explain in detail how to hurt a cat. It is wrong and I would ask all people who are considering it to rethink and ask themselves if it is right to do this. And if you still think it is right, you need to get educated. And if you think I am preaching, I am because someone has to.

However, below I touch on some prominent issues concerning the killing of cats. There are many ways to achieve the same result but these keep popping up on the Internet which is why I have selected them.


It is very easy to return to the attitude of the citizens of Australia when writing about how to kill a cat because there is mass slaughter in that country. You might know that in Australia hundreds of thousands of feral cats are shot dead annually or they are poisoned under government sanctioned programs. So shooting is one way of killing cats. In America there are probably hundreds of thousands of shooters who like to use their guns against feral cats (often a .22 calibre rifle).

RELATED: Speaking with an Australian lady about feral cats and Australia’s native species

There is a difference between America and Australia in this regard, however. In America it is almost always a crime to shoot a feral cat with a rifle. A lot of shooters say that it is legal but it isn’t. You normally shoot a cat at a good distance. You won’t know whether you are killing a feral or domestic cat. You might be killing some’s pet cat. For this reason, jurisdictions in America make it illegal to shoot feral cats unless under particular and specific circumstances such as perhaps to protect livestock. There may be some isolated laws about having the right to kill a cat that comes onto your property. But by and large shooting feral cats in America has to be illegal because the authorities have got to protect domestic cats. It is impractical to take pot shots at cats. That said there are some aberrations such as in NZ.

RELATED: Is it legal to shoot feral cats in NY?

In Australia it is legal to shoot feral cats. And they don’t mind if the domestic cat is shot dead at the same time. This is because the state jurisdictions urgently want to get rid of all feral cats to protect native species. Perhaps the most imaginative state-sponsored scheme for killing cats is to chuck frozen sausages out of a helicopter which have been laced with 1080 poison causing a painful death. Once again, the authorities don’t mind. They actually like it because of this desire to get rid of them.


Perhaps the most common way that individuals who hate cats kill them is through poisoning. Poison such as antifreeze and rat poison are used. The former is popular because cats lick it up. They do not treat it as a poison. Manufacturers should add a bittering agent. I have a page on cat poison on another site which you can read by clicking on this link.

Cat hoarding

Cat hoarders often kill a percentage of their large number of cats through negligence. They can’t cope because the number of cats in their care is too high. They neglect their cats and they might die of an untreated illness. Death by negligence is not uncommon. This is killing your cat. Sometimes callous and cruel owners abandon their cat in a home that they have also abandoned. The cats can’t get out and they don’t have food. The cats starve. That is another way to kill a cat.

Abandon a cat to an animal shelter

A subtle way of killing a cat is to abandon your perfectly healthy cat at a cat shelter where the cat is stressed and misbehaves. These cats are normally calm and pleasant but the stress of being in a shelter temporarily changes their personality to make them unadoptable. They end up being euthanised, a euphemism for killing. That’s an indirect way of killing a cat.


Extraordinarily, some people take their elderly cat to their veterinarian and ask him or her to end the life of their cat. They simply want rid of him and they ask their veterinarian to put their cat sleep. The veterinarian is complicit in the killing of a cat under these circumstances. I don’t know the percentage but I would expect a very high percentage of veterinarians to reject any such request as it goes against their oath. It would be immoral and unethical to comply with a request of this nature. If they do kill a client’s healthy cat on request, they would be committing a crime in my opinion. However, they will never be prosecuted. It just doesn’t happen.


Unlike in Australia and America it is very hard to obtain a rifle or pistol in the UK because of restrictive gun laws. Therefore, in terms of shooting a cat, the most common way cats are killed is through a young man normally entertaining himself by shooting at outdoor cats with an air rifle. This injures the cat, sometimes severely, which can lead to the death occasionally.

I have written about some ways that some people employ to kill a cat. All of them should not be contemplated. They are all crimes in one way or another. Deliberately killing a cat other than through euthanasia by a qualified person is nearly always going to be a crime. Although it must depend on where a person lives. In some countries the laws are either very lax or enforcement is almost non-existent. Under these circumstances people get away with killing a cat despite it being a crime under the country’s legislation.


Before the no-kill movement, and even today to a much lesser degree, millions of cats were killed every year through various methods of euthanasia including gas chambers. The no-kill movement significantly reduced the number of unnecessary deaths of shelter cats. So, one way that cats were killed in large numbers in America was gas chambers at shelters. They were phased out in a very gradual process. To the best of my knowledge there are either none or one remaining in the USA as at the date of this post which is February 2022.

The Humane Society’s photo of a gas chamber that Heber City Animal Services used in the past, which was removed in 2014
The Humane Society’s photo of a gas chamber that Heber City Animal Services used in the past, which was removed in 2014


Organised euthanasia at veterinary clinics or shelters is probably the single biggest method of killing cats in the West. Millions of healthy, well-behaved and adoptable cats have been deliberately killed by this method at shelters because the cats were unwanted and unadopted. They use barbiturates to kill cats this way and they are euphemistically put to sleep. Organisations like PETA believe that it is better to humanely euthanise a cat rather than sustain their misery in feral cat colonies.

Creating a scenario under which it is inevitable that a cat is killed

I’m thinking of two situations but there are more. You are a farmer in Africa. Your farmland is on the land of a large cat like a cheetah. There is conflict between cheetah and human over livestock. The farmer shoots dead the cheetah, to protect his livestock. And in a similar situation, you get captive big cats in zoos which are sometimes shot because they’ve instinctively attacked a visitor to the zoo who managed to get over the enclosure wall into the enclosure or stuff their hand through an enclosure fence. The cat often ends up being killed by zoo officials under these circumstances. I think this scenario applies to “how to kill a cat”. Part of the killing is the careless preparation for the need to kill which would not exist but for the inevitable human-cat conflict.

More reading:

  1. I hate cats
  2. How to kill cats humanely or not

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21 thoughts on “How to kill a cat – criminal behavior or not?”

  1. I have two cats (I have no illusion about what they are or why they are here). Recently (last night), I found that there was a cat roaming around. My initial reaction was to leave something out that would have a terminal affect on him/her. Michael’s original post made some valid points namely that no matter how disturbing they may be the problem, that problem was created by humans (not us but 100’s of years ago). This has me rethinking my approach.

    Killing might be the simplest method but that does not make it the right method.

    There are more than two ways to look at this. It is not RIGHT to terminate the life of any creature simply because it is simplest for us. Nor it is a good idea to perpetuate bad behavior in a loose cat, nor get mad at someone else for not being on your side about it. Consider this… If you were being bothered by a wild animal what would you do?

    If you are only posting negativity to rile someone else then shame on you. If you really think that way, then you might need to seek some help. At the same time shame on the someone letting them rile you, no one else’s response should have any affect on you.

    Now, I am not for or against terminating a cat’s life but I can see I need to rethink it which might cause me to take different action.


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