Categories: neighbour dispute

Proposed local law to deal with domestic cats pooping in neighbor’s backyard

For American who don’t live with a cat (and even those who do), one of life’s annoyances is their neighbour’s cat peeing and pooping on their carefully tended backyard. We read about it quite a lot online. It is an area of domestic cat ‘ownership’ which is liable to cause friction. Another is the ubiquitous domestic cat predation on wildlife but I’ll put that to one side for the moment.

Cat wandering outside. Photo: public domain.

Vast majority accept roaming cats

Although I have to say that the vast majority of people don’t mind someone else’s cat coming onto their property because they are reasonable people who understand and are sensitive towards animal welfare. It is just a small, vocal minority who hate it and want something done about it. They feel powerless because domestic cats are allowed to roam freely in almost all the world’s countries and jurisdictions. There is only one way to alleviate that sense of powerlessness: the law.

If a property owner who does not ‘own’ or like cats is annoyed by trespassing domestic cats the common sense response should be for them to contact the cat’s owner and discuss the matter with the objective of preventing the cat from coming into the person’s backyard. That suggestion is often impractical or difficult because (a) it is not always clear who owns the cat and (b) people don’t like being told what to do nowadays.

If a cat owner is determined to let their cat roam free they won’t take kindly to be asked (even nicely) to prevent their cat going onto a neighbour’s property. It would mean either confining their cat to their backyard and their house or preventing their cat entering the backyard of the complainer. The former requires investing in a fairly sophisticated cat confinement fence around their backyard plus precautions preventing their cat escaping from the from door. Result: unhappy cat and unhappy cat owner because it’d cost them $3,000 or more (perhaps). The latter might be cheaper.

Best enforced solution

If the complaining property owner is the only one who objects to trespassing cats the slightly extreme solution (solution number 2) would be to construct a fence around their property or the access point which would effectively prevent cats getting in. The construction cost would be shared between the cat’s owner and the complainer equally. Neither party would be happy to pay unless forced to.

Bylaw

This is where the law could be changed. In a new ordinance (local law) you’d have a procedure which makes it obligatory for the complaining person to enter into negotiations with the cat’s owner to resolve the dispute. A dispute mechanism such as arbitration could be specified. If there is more than one complaining person and if the talks fail the law could place an obligation on the cat’s owner to construct a cat confinement fence around their property at shared expense between all parties provided the complainer made a formal, registered complaint to the local authority on a proscribed form.

If there is one complainer, solution number 2 above is preferable because it would allow the cat to continue to roam. It is very hard to confine (and frankly unfair) a cat who has had the opportunity to roam freely all their lives. Blocking off one area – the complaining person’s backyard – is far less limiting and more humane to the cat than blocking off all areas in a cat confinement fence. Once again costs would be shared equally.

Failure of complainer to accept fence

If the complaining person objected to a preventative anti-cat fence being constructed around their backyard or part of it they’d forfeit rights to complain and would be deemed to accept cat ‘trespassing’.

Responsibilities

It is the cat owner’s responsibility to ensure that their cat does not cause problems and damage. But neighbors have a responsibility to act reasonably and there is no law preventing cats roaming. Therefore the cost and responsibility for resolving the problem should be shared equally.

Community cats

These ideas do not apply to caring for community or feral cats clearly.

P.S. Identifying cat owners

One way to increase the levels of responsibility of cat owners is to change the law on microchipping:

  1. Microchipping should be obligatory – all cats should be microchipped
  2. There should be a single nationwide microchip register database for all cats
  3. Microchip scanners should be commercially available to anyone at relatively cheaply
  4. Anyone should have the right to scan cats.

SOME PAGES ON RESPONSIBLE CAT OWNERSHIP:

Should I use a spray bottle on my cat?

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Is it cruel to keep a cat in a cage at night?

The response depends on: What you mean by cat? Do you mean adult cats? Or do you man kittens? The ...
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Warning sign in front garden tells drivers to slow down as cat might cross the road

"Warning Cats Crossing Please Drive Slowly" I approve of the actions of Anne Lowe, who put up a nice clear ...
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Letting your cat go outside responsibly

For a lot of cat guardians, the choice as to whether you let your cat go outside or keep them ...
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Woman pays Animal Control $75 for each cat to be trapped, neutered and returned

In dealing with too many feral cats you need to focus on people not cats. This is essential to solving ...
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British cat owners do not feel responsible for their cats killing wildlife

British cat owners have a variety of responses to their cat's hunting behaviour. Some are very concerned about the impact ...
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Fifth of UK cat owners don’t know that their cat is a carnivore

A fifth (20 out of 100 cat owners) don't realise that their cat is a carnivore so concludes a 2,000 ...
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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

View Comments

  • Heh. Cheaper and quicker to just kill your vermin cat. Only needs to be done one time too. And you don't have to incessantly argue with any brainless and infinitely disrespectful cat owning cretin about it either. Dead and DONE! Simple and quick for pennies and only minutes of your time. Get a clue you irresponsible and criminally negligent cat licking cunts. Love it or lose it!

    • Thanks for your elegant and intelligent comment. I can see that you are an educated person who demands respect.

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