Neighbors Cat Bit Me! (How to Handle the Situation Legally)

Being bitten by a neighbor’s cat can be a traumatic and potentially dangerous experience. Taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones is essential. If this happens to you, what can you do about it?

If you have been bitten by a neighbor’s cat, you should seek medical attention immediately and inform your neighbor. You also have the right to report the bite to authorities and take legal action if you believe the owner was negligent. Remember to document everything for a potential legal case.

n this article, we’ll discuss what you can do if a neighbor’s cat bit you, things you must know about cat bites, what to expect when deciding to sue your neighbor, and what diseases you are likely to be exposed to if a cat bites you.

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon and other stores. This means Yard Blogger may earn a commission if you make a purchase using any of our links. Please refer to our full affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Cat bites can become dangerous if not cleaned or treated within a reasonable time. So, if a cat ever bites you, clean it with soap and water, and don’t delay your visit to the doctor.

You can suffer serious issues if you don’t disinfect your wound. These items can help you clean your wounds to avoid those issues:

1. Anti-Microbial Wound DressingIt will help to cover your wound and prevent future infections.

2. Spray Wound CleanserClean and disinfect your injuries with this mild spray wound cleanser. Works for minor scrapes and bigger wounds.

3. Terrasil Wound CareIt doesn’t only disinfect. It aims to repair. This ointment will ensure that your skin heals after a rough match against a cat.

Damaging Cat Bites

If cats are angry enough, they can bite you and leave you a big mark. If this is the case, you’d need to rest for a week to heal properly from a cat injury.

So, what should you do if a cat bites you, and what can you do to avoid further instances? Let’s talk about those things below.

What Should I Do if a Neighbor Cat Bit Me?

If a neighbor’s cat bit you, you should disinfect and clean the affected area before attempting to do anything else, as not doing so can be detrimental to your health. You should not underestimate the magnitude of this bite, no matter how big or small it is.

If you don’t clean the area well, the wound could get infected and become a bigger problem. So, clean the wound with soap and water, and scrub gently.

Don’t rub hard, lest it swells and causes a bigger issue. If there’s blood, apply pressure to the area with a gentle cloth. 

Then, cover the wound with a wound dressing. After, consider going to a doctor to determine how bad the wound is.

Follow the instructions given by your physician and be faithful to the antibiotics they prescribe you. And keep those medical records because they’ll be important.

What Happens if a Neighbor’s Cat Bites Me?

If a neighbor’s cat bites you and you leave it untreated, it could swell and get infected with the bacteria that the cat carries. When you get bitten by a cat, there are multiple things to worry about. Therefore, you must consult your physician right away.

A cat’s saliva contains multiple germs. Therefore, cats pass those microbes onto your skin’s tissue when they bite you. You should consult your doctor if you don’t know the cat.

For example, people have been getting infected with rabies because of cat bites. Although rare, it’s still possible, and the consequences can be fatal if not treated on time.

You should be able to get the wound disinfected with soap and water or some rubbing alcohol. And you should ensure to cover the wound with dressings while you visit the doctor. 

Can I Sue My Neighbor if Their Cat Bites Me?

You can sue your neighbor if their cat bites you, but the case resolution will depend on the circumstances that transpired before, during, and after you’ve been bitten. It’s hard to prove the liability of the cat’s owner.

There are three theories by which courts stand by when dealing with lawsuits regarding aggressive animals:

  1.  Dangerous animal statutes, but these don’t apply to cats. 
  1. Two legal defenses:

    a) “One bite policy.” This means that if you get attacked by a neighbor’s pet only once in your lifetime, they wouldn’t be liable because the incident is assumed as a mere casualty. 

    b) If the cat has been known to continuously represent a threat to other neighbors or members of a community, the owner would be liable for any injuries or damages it causes. That means that if you sue them based on this, they would have to compensate your medical expenses.
  1. General negligence theory. If you sue your neighbors based on this claim, you’d need proof of their lack of responsibility when caring for their cats. This can be hard to do in some circumstances.

However, proving this wouldn’t be complicated in cases where the cat was left outside without supervision, especially if it wasn’t the first time it happened.

Leaving pets outside and unsupervised is a crime that can be penalized by the law, so you can use that in your favor.

Yet, if the cat attacks you because you went to pet or touch it, suing your neighbor won’t help you. In such cases, although the neighbors were negligent in leaving their cat outside without supervision, it is deemed as if the victim contributed to the attack due to careless behavior.

Nevertheless, you should consult a personal injury attorney and ask for their advice. They can guide you through the process and give you better insight.

Can You Get a Neighbor in Trouble if Their Cat Bites You?

You can get a neighbor in trouble if their cat bites you, but you have to prove that they were either negligent or that they allowed their pet to become a threat to the entire neighborhood. An attorney is more suited to give you proper advice.

Since cats are not deemed dangerous animals in most states, it’s hard to prove the owner’s liability. However, if you choose to sue using one of the claims abovementioned and are successful, they have to cover your medical expenses for the injuries you suffered. 

Should I Worry About a Cat Bite?

Even though most cases aren’t serious, you should still worry about a cat bite and visit your local doctor immediately. Cat bites can carry a lot of bacteria that can penetrate your skin; hence, you should not dismiss them.

If you get bitten by a cat, don’t hesitate to disinfect it with the proper tools and then visit your doctor. For example, you could use antibacterial soap to clean the wound or use rubbing alcohol wipes for better disinfection. 

Going to the doctor is important because the tests and medical proceedings can help you get enough evidence of the damages you suffered. You can use those medical documents as proof if you ever decide to sue your neighbor for damages caused by their cat. 

Additionally, you can also avoid bigger issues in the future. For example, cats can have illnesses, such as tetanus or rabies, and they can transmit those diseases through their saliva. So, you should immediately consult your doctor if you ever get bitten.

Neighbor’s Cat Attacked Me?

A neighbor’s cat can attack you if they believe you are a threat or if they are trying to keep their territory intact. For example, they may see your yard as their territory and don’t want anyone or anything going near it. 

And if a cat attacked you and you suffered serious injuries, focus on cleaning and disinfecting the wound with soap and water. After, go to a physician that can treat your wounds effectively. Don’t delay that visit because it could be serious if the cat is ill.

First Aid and Shots

A cat’s bite can provoke serious swelling and carry other dangerous stuff. This is why it’s very important to disinfect the wound before doing anything else since you’ll be able to avoid many of these risky issues.

So, let’s talk about your visit to the doctor.

Do I Need a Tetanus Shot for a Cat Bite?

Most doctors recommend getting a tetanus shot for a cat bite if you haven’t had a booster in the last five years. The doctor may also consider giving you a booster if you don’t remember the last time you received a tetanus vaccine.

Tetanus is a disease that a cat’s saliva can spread. The bacteria that provoke this disease are usually found in soil and manure, and cats are exposed to them constantly.

Thus, your doctor will consider giving you a vaccine if a cat injures you severely.

Do I Need a Rabies Shot After a Cat Bite if the Cat’s Not Mine?

According to the CDC, the need for a rabies shot after a cat bite, or any other form of exposure, will depend on your doctor. However, you’d likely need rabies treatment for 14 days if the exposure were dangerous.

Your doctor will consult with the local health care department to determine if giving you treatment for rabies is the right step for you. However, the process won’t be quick, as you’d have to undergo Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP is the process for treating rabies exposure, and it usually consists of giving you doses of rabies vaccine on days 3, 7, and 14 after the exposure, in this case, a cat bite. Of course, you’ll receive initial treatment the same day you were attacked or bitten by a cat. 

The abovementioned situations are why it is important to disinfect a wound immediately after receiving it. Usually, first aid kit materials can help you do this, so you should keep one in your home.

Do All Cat Bites Need Antibiotics?

Most cat bites need antibiotics due to their high infection rate, so your doctor must consider multiple treatments to avoid fatalities. Cat bites tend to have a lot of microbes and germs, and if those get under your skin, it could lead to blood poisoning.

Since cat bites are highly infectious, you’ll likely need an antibiotic to prevent or fight infection. Many agree that some doctors can choose to prescribe oral antibiotics to treat an infection, while other medics may simply choose to treat you via injections.

Who Pays Medical Bills After My Neighbor’s Cat Bit Me?

You have to pay your own medical bills when you are attacked, but you could receive compensation if the law favors you after suing your neighbors for the injuries their cat caused you. However, it will depend on how the case transpires.

Initially, you must cover your expenses to document the proof you need to file a lawsuit against your neighbors.

Then, if the lawsuit is successful, you could receive monetary compensation for the medical bills you had to pay for treating the injuries you suffered. 

How Do You Know if a Neighbor’s Cat Bite Has Rabies?

It’s difficult to know if a neighbor’s cat bite has rabies by looking at them, but there are signs to look out for when trying to detect the presence of this illness. For example, drooling and aggression are common symptoms of rabies in cats, but not all of them will have this.

Here are things you should look out for if you suspect your neighbor’s cat has rabies:

  • Behavioral changes. A cat, usually sweet, suddenly becomes hostile, shy, timid, or acting irregularly. 
  • Drooling. One of the main signs of rabies in mammals is drooling, although not all animals will necessarily show this symptom.
  • Weakness or lack of muscle control. They won’t be able to walk well or stand straight for long periods. 
  • They may suffer from coma or paralysis, leading to their death. However, this happens in a case where the sickness has advanced and is no longer treatable.

You might also enjoy our post on How to Stop the Neighbors Dog from Peeing in My Yard

Other Legalities Surrounding Cats

Now that you know about the dangers behind a cat’s bite, we can learn about other legal issues surrounding them. Let’s discuss what determines a cat’s ownership and what basic “cat rights” you should know.

What Determines the Ownership of a Cat?

In the justice system, what determines the ownership of a cat are the documents of its adoption or purchase. The cat belongs to the person who can prove that they’ve covered their medical expenses and have them recorded.

Cats and other pets are legally considered property, so having a document proving your ownership is what courts need to know: you are the legal owner of your pet and no one else.

You can prove this by providing medical or registration documents for your cat.

You should keep this documentation in a folder case or a document accordion folder. That way, you’ll ensure that they are safe and that nobody can tamper with them.

If not, you risk losing or damaging the documents, and you need this in case legal situations arise.

Are Cats Considered Chattel?

In the US legal system, cats are considered property or chattel, so if someone harms them, the owner is only entitled to compensation for veterinary expenses. You can also sue someone for stealing your cat if you have proof of legal ownership.

However, the US legal system also protects cats, dogs, and other domestic pets from suffering intentional harm from any individual.

A person could be subject to huge fines and even prison if caught.

What Are Basic Animal Rights?

Although there are organizations that are currently advocating for the creation of animal rights, they don’t exist in the United States. Yet, some Acts and laws protect animals from being harmed or tortured.

In the United States, animals should be treated with dignity, which is why it’s mostly illegal to harm, torture, or mutilate them.

Additionally, a person can’t own a pet if they don’t have the means to take care of it because they could be committing a crime of negligence. 

However, organizations like PETA and the Humane League have advocated for “animal rights.” Their main argument is that animals should live peacefully without suffering interference from humans. 

Are Cats Property?

Cats are considered property under the jurisdiction of the states of the United States of America and are protected under anti-animal cruelty laws. Thus, when someone sues due to damages caused to their pet, they’re only entitled to monetary compensation.

However, if someone mistreats an animal in a way that tortures them, they can be criminally liable and face up to seven years in prison.

So, while pets are considered property, strict protections apply to them on a federal level.

When Should You Call Animal Control on a Neighbor?

You should only call animal control on a neighbor when you are certain that they are causing suffering and anguish to their pet or when you know that they are not providing the proper care it needs. For example, if a cat seems to be malnourished.

However, other situations can lead you to think that an animal is being abused. For instance, if a dog constantly cries or a cat meows violently, it could indicate that its owner or respective owners are not caring for it appropriately.

However, you should only call when you are certain about this. Calling animal control is not something to take lightly, especially because making a wrongful call can create disputes between you and your neighbors.

So, only call when there are evident concerns.

You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if the Neighbors Cat is Climbing on Your Car

Related Questions

Are You Responsible if Your Cat Bites Someone?

You are responsible if your cat bites someone only in a case where you were already aware that it could pose a threat to other neighbors or if you let them out without any type of supervision whatsoever.

If the affected party decides to sue you, they’d have to prove that you were either aware of the issues that your cat could provoke or that you did not care for it responsibly. And if they’re successful, you’d be liable for any damages your pet caused.

Can Someone Sue Over a Cat Scratch?

Someone can sue over a cat scratch if they are certain that the cat’s owner knows the damages it has caused on previous occasions. Moreover, they could also sue if the injuries were caused by negligence.

However, it also depends on the type of scratch. If the scratch were so little that it could barely be seen, suing someone for those injuries would be a waste of time. In most cases, those types of superficial damages can be resolved by disinfecting them with regular soap.

But if the cat scratched you in a way that it broke your skin, it could imply a more serious situation. A person can go to a doctor’s office and use the medical documents they retrieve from that visit to lawsuit somebody, making them liable.

Can I Sue on My Cat’s Behalf?

You can’t exactly sue on your cat’s behalf, but you can sue and demand compensation for damages that your cat suffered due to other people’s negligence or cruelty. This is because your cat is protected under anti-animal cruelty laws. 

And depending on the situation, you can sue the person in a civil claims court or go as far as criminally charging them. However, the latter is more difficult because you’d have to prove the value of your cat as your personal property.

Usually, it’s better to charge someone criminally after consulting local pet attorneys, animal rights activist organizations, and anti-animal cruelty organizations.

However, if you believe you need to sue, you can contact them on their website, and they will guide you.

Final Thoughts

Cats are cute furry friends but can also attack if they feel threatened. If they bite you, you should immediately disinfect the wound and not attempt to trap, touch or pet the cat again.

Doing so won’t do you any good, and in most cases, it won’t help you if you decide to make your neighbors liable for letting their cats roam unsupervised. 

After you’ve cleaned the wound without rubbing it, as it would bruise it, go to your doctor so they can treat the wound.

Expect to receive a tetanus or rabies shot, depending on your specific case. And, most of all, rest. Don’t use the affected hand, arm, or leg because it can hurt you.

Similar Posts