Thursday, 7 May 2009

There's a cat in the kitchen...

A lady with a Weimaraner just phoned with a difficult dilemma. She'd heard a noise in the kitchen and found that her dog had next door's cat in his mouth.
She retrieved the cat, who was somewhat the worse for the exchange and returned it to the neighbour. Her dog was badly scratched and needed vet treatment, too.
The lady has neither pet insurance nor household insurance as both have recently lapsed - so I'm guessing money is tight.
She wanted to know if she is liable for the cat's vet bill as she feels it is likely the neighbour will want her to pay it.
She points out she hadn't ever invited the cat in and already has a strained relationship with her neighbour. The lady also has birds and fears the cat was probably attracted to those.
Legally - what does she have to do? And what would you do if you were her?
If a cat strays into your home are you responsible for its safety? What about if it comes into your garden? What if a cat approaches your dog on a walk? One of our office dogs was attacked by a cat on a walk and had to have an operation to repair a damaged eyelid.

10 comments:

Aoj and The Hounds said...

If a cat is stupid enough to walk into my house then it takes its life into it's own hands I'm afraid. I cannot see that she can be held responsible - but that is just my view, she should perhaps talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Mina said...

My dogs cornered a young cat in my garden last year - due to a repaired fence the cat's expected escape route was not there and its youth meant it got caught.

Luckily I heard the commotion and the car got away and hid but the neighbour had to come and fetch it from its hiding place (it wasn't hurt just shaken and a bit damp).

I (gently) made it clear that I was concerned for the cat but that I couldn't be responsible if it came in again and I wasn't quick enough to stop the dogs next time. She said she understood and agreed that her cats should learn to stay out of the way.

Luckily there hasn't been an incident again, but my garden is not a pubic place and I don't see that I should have to supervise the dogs, or inspect the garden before I let them out in case there is an intruder of any kind. I ensure the dogs can't escape or interfere with anyone else's animals - if they choose to come in that's their look-out!

I hope the Weimaraner owners sends the cat owner the bill for her dog!

Mandy said...

Well, I think if it was me I would offer to pay as I would feel so bad about it (being a cat as well as a dog lover) as presumably the cat is in a much worse state than the dog?? But by the same token if one of my cats attacked and injured a dog I would also offer to pay! (There's probably no legal obligation but I don't know). Difficult one though if the dog owner doesn't have the money ...

Anonymous said...

She should definitely pay for the cat's vet bill!

Anonymous said...

She shouldn't pay the vet bill for the cat.

Every time my cat leaves the house I accept that she could be injured (not just dogs, cars for example) but I'd not expect anyone else to pay the bills.

In this situation I wouldn't ask the cat's owner to pay for my dog's treatment.

I see it as simply a terrible accident and very distressing for cat, dog and both owners.

Also as cats don't have the same status as dogs (not classed as property, don't have to report knocking them down with a car) I'm not sure that either dog or cat owner could force the issue of payment for vets fees?

Lucy King said...

Surely if the cat was in her house, not invited there (though how did it get in) then it isn't her responsibility?

Anonymous said...

I don't think this lady should have to pay any vet bills as the Cat was on her property. However if it had been the other way around i would politely offer some money towards vet treatment.

As much as people may say things such as "the cat should learn to stay away", Cats are free to roam anywhere and there's not much you can do about cats straying into your garden etc.

Louise

Chapstaff said...

Interesting question.

I hope both animals are alright & the lady too.

I don't know the legal side of it, except that as cats roam freely, if one is involved in an accident it doesn't have to be reported, & I believe the cat's owner is not held accountable for her cat's actions - in causing a car to crash for example, or eating her neighbour's bird for another. By the same token that rule should apply re the vet's bill for the cat.

My Staffie puppy was attacked by a cat a few months ago as we walked past the cat's house. It leapt on Tala's back & scratched at her. I kicked the cat off but it followed us all the way up the street & actually leapt on her & attacked her twice more. I had been training her to be cat friendly, but the attack put paid to that. She wasn't badly hurt, but could have been. There is a "Beware of the Cat" sign in the owner's window & the cat is well known locally for attacking other cats & dogs.

So - I think the dog owner should not have to pay the bill & shouldn't feel obliged to offer to.

Anonymous said...

The cat was probably in the kitchen because it had been brought in by the dog!

Chewi'sstaff said...

Cats are legally classed as feral, I believe, so I would imagine that there is no legal responsibility. From a neighbourly point of vier though, perhaps a compromise can be reached - maybe offer to contribute an amount toward the bill?