What Is the Law on Cats Fouling (UK)?

The prospects are not good for someone who feels that they are a victim of a neighbour’s cats fouling their garden. There is no specific law which states that cats cannot foul someone else’s garden or land. You have to rely upon the general law. Depending on the severity of the fouling a person might start a civil action in the County Court for nuisance. This is a tort.

Cat in garden
Cat in garden — whose garden?
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

If an individual person is subjected to the alleged nuisance they would sue in “private nuisance”. When the public are subjected to the nuisance the action would be in “public nuisance”. Public nuisance actions are normally instigated by local authorities. If a person starts an action of private nuisance then if he succeeds he may receive an award of damages and he may get an injunction against the cats’ owner. He would have to show that there has been “material discomfort” or annoyance. My gut feeling is that 99% of people or more would be very reluctant to start proceedings like this. They are rare. There is no guarantee of success. Unless the neighbor has a large number of cats and there has been a substantial amount of fouling such an action would fail in my opinion. There would be costs too and these might be expensive.

It is worth adding that cats can not trespass and have a right to roam but this does not mean that cat owners have a right to be irresponsible. The local authority might take action against a cat hoarder under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Cat hoarding can cause a genuine nuisance to neighbours because of the smell and cats wandering around neighbouring gardens. Although if a person is asking about the law on cats fouling they will be normally be asking about one or two cats coming into their garden and not about cat hoarding.

The truth of the matter is that when a person feels that they are a victim of cat fouling they are in weak position in comparison to the cat owner. This is annoying to people. It can also lead to cat owners being a bit careless or irresponsible and the “victim” taking the law into his own hands (don’t!). Even though I love cats dearly and am an animal advocate, I do believe that cat owners have an obligation to respect the rights of neighbours. It makes sense to do so in order to create a harmonious neighbourhood. Not everybody likes cats or is able to tolerate cats defecating and urinating on their land.

There is one criminal aspect to this matter which is likely to fail as well in my opinion. You could claim that a neighbour is being antisocial. You could make an application for an antisocial behaviour order which is normally made by local authorities or the police. The applications are heard in the Magistrate’s Court. If you succeed in getting such an order then the cat owner would be committing a crime if they fail to comply with it. However, such application in my opinion would be unlikely to succeed and I’m sure that they are extremely rare.

Finally, you might consider talking with your local authority. You might wish to make a formal complaint to them under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. This is your right to respect for your family and private life. In response they will probably argue that the cats’ owner has equal rights and the right to enjoy letting the cats roam onto your property. You could then argue that the council was in breach of Article 14 of the Human Rights Act on the basis that they were discriminating against you by putting the cats’ owner’s rights ahead of yours. This is a very fancy argument which may put some pressure on the local authority. It would take some confidence to carry it off, however. Personally, I don’t see it succeeding and would not recommend it.

The best way forward would be to try to convince the cats’ owner to respect your wishes. You may do something to assist in that regard by sharing the cost of building an enclosure for the cats but this is highly unlikely to take place because you will not want to part-fund an enclosure and secondly because the cats’ owner will not want to build one.

12 thoughts on “What Is the Law on Cats Fouling (UK)?”

  1. I know quite a few people that know how to plant gardens that are ecologically responsible. They actually plant several rows of vegetables and other plants that native wildlife like to eat, as a perimeter around their gardens. This way they get to live in harmony with “destructive garden pests” and enjoy their company as well as enjoy their gardens. Sarah’s “solution” would displace all that native wildlife too. People who love nature don’t do that, repel all wildlife. They make an effort to even please the native wildlife and reward them for being there.

    • The only other native wildlife round here are mice, foxes and squirrels – these are also garden pests. Development in nearby gardens (decking, paving, fences without hedgehog tunnels) has scared off the hedgehogs that used to live locally. And since my neighbours have a very small child, they don’t want to risk toxo infection from cat faeces. Oddly enough, my own cats run indoors to use their trays and then go outdoors afterwards (conditioning from when they were indoor-only cats before they came to me), but my neighbours are hardly going to DNA test the faeces to see whose cat left the poop in the middle of the lawn.

      • Does she also take the valuable hours out of her own life to apply that toxic substance to all her neighbors yards? Or do they send her a bill for all those hours that they had to expend to help Sarah pursue her hobby? Her’s is not a solution, in fact its an insult added on top of insult.

      • What other animals does that “Get Off My Garden” repel that her neighbors actually wanted in their own gardens? Is she destroying everyone’s gardens just to keep her cats out of them so she can pretend she’s being a “good neighbor”?

      • Not really as it is not eco friendly. Some of us would like to enjoy our gardens without stepping into cats’ vomit and poo every single day. Law needs changing!!!!!!!

  2. Since I’ve lived here, this sounds awful but if you read it you’ll see that the cat owners were given a very clear choice and choose to get rid of two rather than keep them in the house or confined to an outdoor enclosure. The properties here are very compact and population dense. I think it was in Manhattan Beach I seen some of the first outdoor cat enclosures and that was over 30 years ago.

    Hermosa Beach Has and is Enforcing a Two-Cat Limit

    The lesson here is if pet owners don’t self regulate and take responsibility it leads to the passing or ordinances that have an impact on everyone.

    • Agreed ME. Cats owners have a responsibility towards cats and other people and if they are not responsible it affects cats ultimately.


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