Are there laws governing destructive cats?

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Cats are nightly turning over my garbage and scattering it. Are there any laws requiring cat owners to keep their cats on their own property or leashed? I am considering catching the cat on my property and taking it to the local humane society. I believe if the owners had to pay the fee a few times to get the cat back, perhaps they would contain it.


Although most places have leash laws for dogs, only a handful of cities have attempted to impose the same rules on cats and their owners. Many people assume this is because most cats are smarter than most legislators and would surely be able to spot a loophole in any law.

If you know who owns the cats that are causing you trouble, talk with the owners and tell them what's happening. They may have no idea that their critters are such a bother to the neighbors. You might enlist a neighborhood mediation service to help in your talks; many cities provide this service free of charge to those who wish to keep the peace. For more on mediation, see Nolo's Mediation Resource Center.

If repeated requests don't work, there's a last resort: small claims court. You can sue the cats' owner for causing a nuisance. For more information, see Nolo's Small Claims Court Resource Center.

What you don't want to do is harm your neighbor's cat. Unless a domestic animal is an imminent threat to a person's safety or livestock's life, a property owner may not take the life of another person's pet into his or her own hands.

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