Categories: Animal laws

Shooting domestic cats in Poland and Australia

Although the shooting of domestic cats (cats owned by individuals) occurs across the planet to varying degrees, I would like to pick up on two countries where it can happen and where, quite frankly, it is legalised through national legislation.

Vampire cat in Poland. May he strike back if someone tries to shoot him. Photo in public domain.

Poland

Poland is a member of the EU. Their animal welfare laws should be harmonised with those of the EU’s northern nations. Under Poland’s Animal Protection Act (believed 1997) landowners may “shoot free-ranging cats and dogs found at least 200 m from the nearest household” if they appear “abandoned (feral), undernourished and could be a threat to wildlife” (quoted in Wierzbowska et al. 2012).

Comment: on the basis that the reference is accurate, the piece of legislation which has been quoted is far too imprecisely drafted. It opens the door widely to abusive behaviour by animal abusers because they can always claim that the cat that they saw met the criteria. But at 200 m away or more it is impossible to be sure that a cat is abandoned or feral, undernourished and a threat to wildlife. This law is foolish and indicates a legislature which lacks the ability to think clearly. It also indicates that the legislature is not adequately concerned about animal welfare despite Poland being a member of the European Union. As mentioned, members of the European Union should all have high-quality animal welfare laws in compliance with the umbrella objectives of the union. I think that you’ll find that the eastern European member nations have similar difficulties in complying with EU objectives on animal welfare. Poland has a history of ignoring the EU’s umbrella constitution.

Australia

The management of feral cats in Australia is well known internationally. It has a policy which is notorious for its desperate and inhumane measures to control the uncontrollable. It includes the poisoning and shooting of feral cats and although the deliberate shooting of pet cats would be a crime, freeroaming domestic cats may be at risk during control operations for feral cats (RSPCA 2019-a study). If it is not the shooting of domestic cats, it is the poisoning or trapping and subsequently euthanising of them which raises my hackles. Domestic cats are at risk in Australia to varying degrees depending upon the location.

Comment: when a government is as committed as the Australian government is to eradicate feral cats in their country by any means possible there is bound to be collateral damage, which in this instance is someone’s pet. Which makes me wonder whether the owners of these pet cats have successfully sued the Australian authorities for compensation. I’ve never seen such a case and I would doubt it ever happens because it would be a legal action fraught with great difficulties. The counterargument is that their cats should be kept inside or under curfew and the blame could be put upon the cat’s owner or at least they become contributors to the demise of their cat.

Abuse

It is well-known that in any country there will be a small percentage of citizens who take pleasure in taking pot shots at cats outside and there is a complete disregard as to whether the cats are owned or not. It’s just a form of sport hunting on a very cheap scale. In countries where it is difficult to obtain a licence for a firearm firing bullets, these people substitute such firearms for BB guns or air rifles and sometimes crossbows.

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.

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