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Cats may be independent, but as an owner you are responsible for meeting their needs. Find out more about your duty of care in our expert guide.

Your responsibilities to your cat

The law defines your obligations as a cat owner, as well as the penalties for cruelty and neglect.

Your cat's five welfare needs

As a cat owner, you will of course want to make sure that your cat is always happy and well looked after. But there are also laws in place to make sure that all animals are protected from harm and provided with everything they need.

By law, you are responsible for meeting your cat's needs:

  • for a suitable environment
  • for a suitable diet
  • to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

See also: Home and Environment, Diet, Understanding Cat behaviour, Cruelty and neglect

Penalties for failing to care for your cat

The penalties for committing an offence of cruelty or for failing to provide for an animal's welfare needs include a ban from owning animals, a fine of up to £20,000 or, in some cases, a 6-month prison sentence.

Controlling your cat

While it is accepted that cats tend to roam freely, and are less likely to cause injury to people or damage property than some other animals, cat owners have a general duty at law to take reasonable care to ensure their cat does not injure people or damage property. In practice, there are not many cases of cats injuring people or damaging property.

Related topics

Cruelty and neglect - Topic

Managing your cat's behaviour - Topic

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