Should cat owners be held responsible for the actions of their pets?

I’m a cat lover and owner, and through my two jobs, I often come across distressing situations involving “cats gone bad”:

  1. As a vet in practice, I see pet cats that are continually bullied by other cats in the neighbourhood, suffering from fight injuries and stress. The owners of the bully cats are usually unaware of the problem, and if they’re told about it, they often don’t respond in a helpful way.
  2. As a vet in the media, gardeners often contact me, incensed about cats digging up their seedbeds.
  3. Many birdlovers also contact me, furious about local cats killing birds at their bird tables.

I always feel that there is a compromise possible for most situations of disagreement. Is there one here?

I’ve written an online piece about this over at the Daily Telegraph.  The article includes a poll – please take a couple of minutes to cast your vote in favour – or against – the idea that cat owners should take more responsibility.

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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