In order for owners or keepers of a domesticated animal to be liable, they must have known or had reason to know that the particular animal was abnormally dangerous. So, if a cat was usually peaceful and suddenly and unexpectedly inflicts an injury, its owner or keeper will probably not be liable to the person who was injured.  However, if the cat owner knew the cat was normally aggressive, the owner may be held liable.

What are a Cat Owner's Responsibilities?

The owner or keeper of a cat has a duty to know its normal habits and tendencies and thus must realize that even ordinarily gentle animals are likely to be dangerous. Under particular circumstances, the owner must exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm. 

What is Abnormally Dangerous Behavior for a Cat?

Courts take into consideration that domestic cats are generally harmless and docile. However, dangerous behavior may consist of mere mischievousness or playfulness as well as viciousness. Courts have found that a cat's inclination to injure a person, when the cat had previously attacked or attempted to attack a person without provocation, established an indication of dangerousness. 

Does a Cat Scratch or a Bite Always Equate to Dangerous Behavior?

Courts have recognized that cat biting and scratching when provoked does not show dangerous behavior, regardless of whether the cat is playing or being fearful and reacting naturally. Courts have also generally ruled that a cat owner will not be liable for injuries inflicted by a cat on a provoking dog, even if the cat owner knew that the cat had a history of attacking other animals. 

What Are Some Instances Where the Owner May be Liable for Injuries Inflicted by a Cat?

A cat owner may be liable for its injuries that it has inflicted. Some settings that previous courts have considered include:

  • Store owners who knew that their cat was prone to being aggressive has a duty to keep a safe business environment. 
  • The owner knew of the cat's violent behavior and let the cat roam free without constraint, resulting in the cat scratching someone on their property. 
  • When the cat had attacked a dog without provocation and the dog owner was injured in the process. 

Should I Seek an Attorney if a Cat Has Attacked Me?

The cat owner may be liable for your injuries. A personal injury attorney will strive to obtain rewards for your damages. Working with an attorney will help you understand your rights in the legal system.