Duchess a stray cat who was unowned - now cared for by Martha Kane in Malta. Photo: Michael @ PoC
The answer to this question is simple. With respect to "ownership", there are four types of cat in the UK. The domestic cat is "owned" by his or her human caretaker. That is a state that is recognised in law. The cat is considered a "chattel" - an inanimate object. This is old law and it desperately needs updating as it promotes abuse. A domestic cat can be bought and sold just like any other possession. In divorce proceedings, a domestic cat is a joint possession to be "divided" (not literally) between the couple. It is usually obvious as to who gets the cat.
The next group are stray cats. There are several categories of strays in respect to the concept of legal ownership. These cats are betwixt being owned by a person and being unowned. They are frequently taken in and cared for. A person who does this could lay claim to ownership of the cat concerned but the type of person who does it would not think in that way.
The third group are feral cats. These are not owned in any sense. They are effectively "wild domestic cats". They can be taken in too and become owned - usually kittens.
The fourth and last group is the 400 or so Scottish wild cats in the UK. These are not owned by anyone. But they are the responsibility of the people of Scotland to ensure that they do not become extinct.
The rules governing the ownership of wild cat hybrids in the UK is different. Click here please.
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