Judge Judy is wrong in the matter of a cat who scratches a dog’s eye

Judge Judy
Judge Judy
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The video shows an extract of a judge Judy case. The sound is hard to hear. I have heard it several times and the scenario is as follows:


The claimant was walking her dog on a lead in what she described as the front yard but I believe this to be a public area or an area used by people living in a condominium. She was walking next to some garages. Her dog, inquisitively, sniffed in the area of some bushes. In those bushes was a tabby cat which the claimant says belongs to the defendant.

The cat attacked the dog, scratching the dog’s eye which required $4000 of veterinary treatment at the end of which the dog lost her eye. The claimant/plaintiff was looking for a court judgement that she be reimbursed for four thousand dollars. She got her award – judge Judy awarded $4000 to the claimant to be paid by the defendant.

The defendant said that the cat was not his. Judge Judy found that the cat was his and that he should have had his cat on a lead or kept his cat indoors and because his cat had damaged this woman’s dog he had to pay her compensation due to his irresponsibility.

I find judge Judy’s judgement incorrect the following reasons:

Firstly, she makes an all-encompassing statement that this man’s cat should have been on a lead or very closely supervised. However, she made no reference to any state or local laws which requires that a cat be on a lead. The fact that she made no reference to any such law indicates to me that it does not exist in that area (or, as Sandy in a comment states, that it is accepted that outdoor cats are supervised). It has to be said, in the USA, today, there are many laws which are gradually encroaching upon the historically free-roaming nature of the domestic cat.

It must be an omission by the judge that she made no attempt to modify her judgement on the basis that there is no law (ordinance) regarding cats being on leashes or kept indoors, or she appears to make no reference to any leash-law should it exist, in her judgment. That’s the first problem as I see it. Incidentally, the judge seems to have taken the view that cats are like dogs and can put on a lead without any problems. Cats do not like leads and they won’t follow their “owner” like a dog.

The second problem is that the dog had approached the cat (as I understand it), albeit that both the dog owner and the dog were unaware of the cat’s presence as the cat was in bushes. However, the cat would have been intimidated and defensively aggressive. The cat’s behaviour was defensive and reactive.

Judge Judy likens the action of this cat to attacking prey, which is extraordinary. She discusses the behaviour of cats attacking birds with the defendant and then likens that to what the cat did to the dog. This is completely incorrect because cats do not willy-nilly attack dogs as prey. Therefore judge Judy was wrong again.

I would judge this incident as “an act of nature”. In effect it was an accident (from a human standpoint), the coming together of two species of animal, inadvertently, without any malice or bad behaviour on the part of either the claimant or the defendant.

Therefore, there should have been no award of compensation. It was just bad luck. If on the other hand judge Judy wished to award some compensation to the woman she should have taken into account the fact that the dog, albeit perhaps inadvertently, was the aggressor and therefore there was an element of contributory negligence or misbehaviour from the dog’s owner. This should reduce the award to about half of what it is.

There is one last issue: if this occurred in a private area there may be rules on cats entering private areas and losing their ‘rights’.

Those are my thoughts on this at this stage. Do you have any? It is a case which goes to the heart of the indoor/outdoor cat debate and whether free-roaming cats are acceptable nowadays.

Judge Judy is an American television show. She is a real judge but her judgements on the show are not binding in the usual way but via a contract between the parties.

55 thoughts on “Judge Judy is wrong in the matter of a cat who scratches a dog’s eye”

  1. I 100% agree Judge Judy is wrong. However, like someone said, the show pays the winning party not the defendant. It’s not even close to as much as they said. Each party gets only $200 for being on the show. It is only small claims court. The most anyone can get is $3000. The defendant still gets $200 whether they win or lose the case. I know I was on Judge Mathis.

  2. It also occurred to me that there could have been a number of different animals in that bush that could have lashed out in defense. Dog owners have the means to keep their dogs safer than to let them stick their faces where they could be scratched or bitten by a hidden animal in a bush. Why no one else here and especially the judge failed to even consider that is just amazing to me.

  3. “It has to be said, in the USA, today, there are many laws which are gradually encroaching upon the historically free-roaming nature of the domestic cat.”

    OH NO. Can’t have a pet owner be responsible for their own pet can we?? Because history??

    OK listen. You’re an idiot, and I think somewhere deep down you must know you’re a fucking idiot. YOU HAVE TO. There’s no way in hell you are actually arguing that because (and this is a GRAVE injustice to the American people) there are no laws prohibiting your fucking cats from roaming and violating our property rights, you are not required to pay for DAMAGES incurred by your cats.

    Yes, it is legal for cats to roam in most places. NO, that does not mean that you get to shrug your cretinous shoulders if we have proof that you cat caused damage.

    Be happy that there is enough delusion in this world that allows people like you to neglect your pets and be cretins instead of decent people. But if your cat is caught causing damage then you DAMN WELL NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT! Don’t you think that’s the least you can do? You already have the privilege to let your pet roam on my property and slaughter animals for fun. NO, it’s not nature, you mouth-breathing cat nutter.

    Let’s be clear on something. Attitudes like yours are the reasons cats are nailed with air guns, found hanging dead from trees, and ‘disappearing’.

    • Charming comment….You miss the point. I am not for or against free-roaming cats. In the article I was simply commenting on the judge’s legal argument. You have simply attacked me because you incorrectly believe that I support free-roaming cats. I don’t. I support responsible cat ownership. I always have done.

      Read the article more carefully and before you attack people again think more and check more thoroughly.

      Sorry. You are a very rude, disrespectful person. You are a coarse person. You are a crude person and I’ll be rude in return: you’re stupid.

      • The ONLY valid point you had was about Judge Judy’s comparison of predation aggression to offensive aggression, however her argument still makes sense in the vain that cats have behaviors and instincts that might cause them to damage property or injure other pets and the idiots that free-roam their cats need to be prepared to accept that. They can let their cats roam but that doesn’t make their pets wildlife (that they destroy). That doesn’t give cat owners the right to do whatever the hell they want and get away with everything (if you really don’t support cat free-roaming how are you not enraged by this concept??)

        Your argument amounted to “there is no law preventing my kids from playing outside unsupervised therefore I don’t need to pay damages if they scratch your car, it was just a ‘natural accident'”. I was just so floored by your silly argument I just simply can’t see how you are claiming you are not a cat free-roamer supporter, and if you aren’t I apologize for that, but your argument is awful and empowers the cat whacks.

        • Well you are still wrong. I genuinely am not a free-roaming supporter. I am for responsible cat caretaking for the simple and obvious reason it protects cats. Sometimes free-roaming is okay but a lot of the time it is not. I am for large cat enclosures. And my article does not empower the “cat whacks” whoever they are. You are letting your anger and hatred (for whatever it is) to get in the way of sensible argument.

          My article is exclusively about Judge Judy’s decision and my conclusion is that it was an accident. If it was illegal to let cats go outside then my assessment would be different obviously. But it is legal to let go outside in that area.

          I wrote the following article in Nov 2015:


          It tells you my thoughts about cat owners’ responsibilities.

          I don’t think cat owners who let their cats go outside “get away with everything”. Your argument is too generalised and wild.

          • This is an older article but these are timeless and worth discussion, as usual, especially as they showcase your fair and honest views. Thank you Michael, literally a thousand times thank you.

    • Wow Melissa, if that’s who you are. Yeah, charming. I suspect you’re a notorious cat hater who lurks and pounces just like a cat at atories like this. I won’t say who you probably are as that would give you notoriety you’d enjoy, but your effusive vitriol is evident. You’re wrong in your assessment of this and just about every situation where you dump on cats, and that’s all I’ll say because I refuse to engage you, whoever you are.

    • WoW what an AHOLE! I doubt you will even see my reply and if you do you wouldn’t reply anyway since you didn’t have the balls to reply back to anyone else but I’m going to comment back to you anyway. It will make me feel better lol.
      I agree that all cats should be indoor cats mostly for their own safety. Alot of cat owners don’t agree and it doesn’t mean that everyone who lets their cat outside neglects it. Accidents do happen. Perhaps it was an indoor cat and got out by mistake and was scared and may be why he was hiding in the bushes. Whether or not that is the case the cat acted on instinct. Just like if someone comes around the corner to suddenly scare someone, if that someone had been attacked sometime in the past, they might automatically punch the jokester instinctively without thinking about it.

      You also said, “You already have the privilege to let your pet roam on my property and slaughter animals for fun. NO, it’s not nature, you mouth-breathing cat nutter.”

      Let’s start with the first sentence. Cats slaughter animals in your yard just for fun? Do you have cougars running around slaughtering animals? Cats don’t slaughter animals. The meat you eat was brutally slaughtered but I bet your just fine with that aren’t you!? You pay farmers to abuse and slaughter 100s of animals. But I’m getting off track.
      Cats kill birds and rodents ONLY not animals! Not because it was fun. It IS INSTINCT to kill birds and rodents to eat so they can survive.

      Which brings us to the 2nd sentence. You said it’s not nature. REALLY? It’s not? And you have the nerve to call someone that thinks so an idiot? This shows you are completely ignorant and uneducated.

      Mouth breathing cat nutter? WHAT!? Who taught you to insult people? LoL. Everyone has breathed out of their mouth at one time or another. Cat nutter. Yes I am thank you very much. Facts have shown that being a cat lover is a sign of high intelligence.

      Which bring up another point. The crap you said about the dead cats is cruel and disgusting. But your obviously proud to be cruel and disgusting. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even be on this website since you have such a disdain for cats.

      Oh wow I just saw that you are a girl. That makes you even more disgusting.

      • Beating your chest because you think I won’t reply huh? What was your first clue? The fact that I last replied in 2016? Well unfortunately for you I ALWAYS reply if I am notified.

        “Cats kill birds and rodents ONLY not animals!”

        IF you believe that birds and rodents are not animals you are hopelessly mentally deficient and I can’t help you in any way. Maybe it was a typo, but I just can’t figure out what you might have actually meant?

        “You said it’s not nature. REALLY? It’s not?”

        YUP. REALLY. IT’S NOT. Nature is the state of the ecosystem without modern human interference. Your pet is domesticated vermin that has been brought here from overseas and is not part of the natural world. Furthermore it is your PET and it is being fed, so any animals it kills are NOT for survival and it is completely unnecessary prolonged suffering.

        A cougar running around would be hunting to survive. A pet cat often ABANDONS its kill or eats it partially. Your cat is already eating those “slaughtered and abused” farm animals do it DOESN’T NEED TO KILL MORE you dolt.

        Feel better now?

  4. Animals need to be controlled by their owner. This is a common law in the states. If it was his cat, he is responsible. Natural behavior is thrown out the window in these cases. The cat should of been ‘controlled’ and so it is his owner’s fault in the eyes of the law. She certainly doesn’t explain the laws that were behind her judgement.

    I know that this may seem inappropriate at first look because it feels wrong. However, what if the situation was reverse. You had your cat out on a 20 foot leash attached to the front porch. An uncontrolled dog comes up and she goes to investigate. The dog attacks her. Wouldn’t we be calling for the blood of the dog’s owner? I certainly would.

    Sorry, I have to agree with the outcome, but not the way it was presented. Judge Judy is very loose on her presentation. She does sometimes explain the law, but most times she see doesn’t. Let me know your thoughts.

    OK. Came to decompress. Back to finals week 1 of 2

    • I know the laws vary greatly across the USA and I appreciate that Judge Judy may not feel it pertinent to specify which sections of legislation dictate her rulings.

      However, if this man lives in an area where local laws dictate that cats should not be outside unless under the “control” of their owner, then why was there no mention from the plaintiff (or JJ) about him being fined/getting into trouble with the local authorities? Surely that would have helped support the plaintiff’s case against him?

      I’m sorry for the dog, but I still maintain that without independent witnesses to corroborate the suspect and the plaintiff’s version of events, JJ is taking one person’s word over another’s. Would she give the same ruling if I said I saw someone vandalise my car, but had no witnesses? Perhaps the repair bill from the garage would be sufficient evidence to prove my case 😉

      • Unfortunately, she probably would. They pull the case from court and agree to let her settle it. She seems to choose who she feels is telling the truth and goes from there. Sometimes they are both liars and she tells them to settle it between themselves. She acts as if she is dealing with children, not adults.

        • To be fair to JJ, I’m sure she encounters a lot of idiots and has seen her fair share of bare faced liars. I guess she sometimes goes with her gut feeling as to who is telling the truth.

          In the UK, you need physical evidence or an independent witness to back up an accusation of crime. Many years ago we had the neighbour from hell. I won’t bore you with the very, lengthy list of his crimes against us, but the police would not get involved because we didn’t have a witness. The situation was only resolved when I made a complaint to the Race Relations board – my partner was French (lol). That got things moving and within an hour a local detective called me to say they could potentially prosecute him under stalker legislation.

          • That was a neat solution. Lateral thinking I think you call it. Perhaps the fact that Judge Judy’s court is a television studio rather than a real court and therefore there are hardly ever witnesses, the judge has to decide between two totally conflicting accounts and therefore has to make bold broadbrush decisions which seem crude by the standards of real hearings.

            • I guess the show is a televised version of the UK’s county courts? Though in my experience you can’t even get a case to court without evidence of some kind.

              I’ve only seen Judge Rinder a few times and notice although he doesn’t cite particular legislation, he does always point out whether something has legal relevance (or not) to a case.

            • It was the aftermath of Stephen Lawrence’s tragic murder, which changed the law so that it was up to victims (and not the police) to decide if they felt they were the victim or racial harrassment. Without that change in legislation I doubt the police would ever had got involved.

              Ironically it was the neighbour’s own dodgy goings-on which brought about his downfall. He got himself into trouble with the wrong kind of people and did a disappearing act. It was after that we sold up and moved to Cyprus.

            • Yes, a lot of weight is given to putting on a show that you’d never see in a real courtroom. Sometimes it give the impression that whoever she deems the loser in the case is so wrong that any court would rule the same way. I’d guess that in this case more courts would not rule the same as she than with her. She goofed on this one, for the reason that I said in my prior comment.

    • Correct.
      The proceedings are quite loose, because it’s an arbitration hearing that both parties agreed to participate in as opposed to a real civil hearing.
      In a real civil hearing, there would be much more detail and, I’m sure, that the gentleman would have been informed of the penalty for perjury before he was read his rights and cuffed at the end.

      • Exactly. In a real court he would of been fined for not controlling the cat and arrested for perjury. I like how JJ handles the idiots, deadbeats, etc. But in this case she was overbearing and obnoxious.

    • As I said in my comment, if either or any pet owner has the duty and expectation to control their pet it’s the dogs’. She let her dog stick it’s nose where she had a duty to her own dog not to for it’s own sake. To try to argue otherwise, and especially as you give no balance to your argument, I judge your comment in error and useless as a practical or legal matter. You’re just wrong.

    • Weird that in your first sentence you submarine your own conclusion. You stated that animals need to be controlled but you obviously aimed that at cats and not even the dog in this one case. You should pick your cases more intelligently if you want to present your cat-hating attitude in an intelligent manner and with an effective result. You lost credibility by your own failure to support your lead conclusion.

  5. I agree with Michael on this matter: Judge Judy is in the wrong.

    But, there is one point that I disagree with. I have been around dogs for over 45 years. They have a great sense of smell that allows them to smell things from afar. That said, I guarantee that the dog knew the cat was in the bushes. That is why the dog stuck his nose in the bush; to check out the cat. Maybe the dog liked cats. Maybe the dog wanted to eat the cat. We will never know. Sorry he lost his eye over this.

    • I think you are correct, on reflection. I also think that we can agree that the dog, inadvertently perhaps, started the confrontation or kicked off the attack by the cat. That should be a factor in the judge’s decision and goes a long way to describing what happened as an act of nature rather than trying to blame a person.

      • I have noticed that Judge Judy used to be “fair” in her verdicts, but is not so much any more. She appears to be more interested in her television persona and less with the actual legal aspects of each case.

        Which is quite sad for a so-called professional.

        Obviously, she is not an animal care giver, even if she has any at home. Anyone who spends quality time with dogs and cats knows their behavior and how much rubbish is being spewn during this trial.

        • Yes, I get the impression that she is simply deciding things on the basis of her gut feeling almost which is not very judicial. Perhaps being a television judge on what is almost a reality TV programme has undermined her ability to be judge-like.

          • She’s referred to as a judge (and, she really is), but in these circumstances, she functions as an arbitrator only.

    • No, there are probably urine smells from hundreds of animals all over that bush, all of which are stronger than a cat just sitting in there. And it doesn’t matter if the dog suspected or even knew the cat was there, the dog’s owner had responsibility to keep her pet’s face out of a place where it could have been scratched by a hidden animal of any kind. There could have been an opossum, a skunk, a raccoon, a squirrel, another dog, a snake, who knows what? Even if the cat was in full view, it’s the dog’s owner who has a leash on her pet and the responsibility and opportunity to keep it from possible harm. It’s weird how no one else gets that in this case, especially the judge.


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