If you’ve reached this blog I am going to assume that you have already decided to insure your pet cat – good for you! Insurance comes with a huge host of benefits. And it can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. After extensive research and diving down the rabbit holes of the internet, however, you are now wondering – how come most dog insurance plans have options for liability cover whereas you will struggle to find this in cat plans? Should I get liability cover for my cat? What does all of this mean? Well, you’ve come to the right place, let’s dig in.
Table of contents
Firstly what even is liability insurance?
Liability insurance is the type that pays out if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position where your pet causes harm to another person, pet or livestock. For example, if they cause a road traffic accident, if they damage someone else’s property, etc. It acts as a safety blanket for you, the owner, in that way and can give you peace of mind. For options that I have seen for dogs, these insurances can provide up to £3 million (with various conditions applying) to their clients to protect them against liability claims they are accountable for as a result of their dog’s actions.
On this note, whilst you will see liability cover options for most insurance providers for dogs; very few indeed offer this option for cats.
Why not for cats?
This is reflective of the fact that dog owners are legally completely responsible for their dog’s actions. And for keeping their canine friend under control in public places. Whereas cats are seen as free and independent individuals who their owners are not legally responsible for. They have the ‘right to roam’ as they say. The law recognises that cats are less likely to cause problems to other people and animals than dogs. And indeed the number of incidences of property damage and injury are far lower for cats than dogs. See this article for some examples! Indeed, far fewer cat owners take their cats out to walk in the same way that dog owners do.
There is however a small specification in that whilst cat owners are not responsible for keeping their cat under control, they must by law ‘take reasonable care’. This is to ensure that their cats don’t cause these kinds of issues. This is known as the Common Law Duty of Care.
This leaves cat owners in a weird position.
Sure, it may be very unlikely that your cat will cause an issue of this nature and that it will progress into a legal matter. However, if something does happen then you won’t be covered. Even if you do have cat insurance (or at least for the vast majority of cat insurance options)! This is because the insurance companies simply do not include liability cover within their packages.
This being said there are a variety of potentially comforting factors that support this idea that cats are less likely to cause problems than dogs. Thus the lack of having liability insurance isn’t too big of an issue for cat owners.
Reasons why it isn’t so much of an issue…
Cats are by nature usually more cautious of strangers than dogs. Reports of random cat attacks on strangers are very rare. Cats are also smaller in size and less likely to bite than dogs. But of course cats can still inflict a lot of harm with their sharp claws.
The key difference to aggression in dogs is that cats would likely need to be provoked and also cornered in some sort of way to elicit a physically aggressive response in a public place. When feeling threatened by other animals or humans whilst outside, cats are blessed with the option of a quick escape; this is the option they will usually take. Whilst different dogs will have different tendencies to fight or flight based on past experiences, breed and the fact that they may not be able to run if they are attached to a lead, cats will usually always favour the latter. Read this blog about sudden cat aggression for more info.
Dogs are also more likely to get over-excited and cause damage or harm to people or property inadvertently than their feline counterparts; especially larger and jumpier dogs. Plus, whilst dogs can be transported straight into the hustle and bustle of public life by their owners, cats tend to stay much closer to home. Most cats only roam between 40 and 200m away from their house.
How about factors between cats themselves?
Some cats will be more or less likely to be caught up in any trouble than others which can make your decision regarding liability cover easier again. Firstly if your cat is an indoor or mostly indoor cat then the likeliness of it causing a problem in a public place is almost none. Outdoor cats have an increased risk compared to indoor ones. But especially boisterous and far-wandering cats present an increased risk again. Males also tend to be more aggressive than females, and entire males more so than neutered ones. You as the owner will ultimately have the best idea of the nature of your cat. Aswell as how likely you think they are to be involved in any incidents.
Key precautionary steps you can take, for any cat, would be to microchip them and also to neuter them to reduce any aggressive or wandering tendencies (as well as other benefits which you can read here). You could also train your cat to come home when called if you are scared they may be getting up to mischief when they wander away from your house. If after learning the risks and taking these steps you would still be interested in pursuing liability cover, I would suggest contacting the various cat insurance companies to see if any would be amenable to add in a clause for you. Otherwise, be comforted in the knowledge that your cat will probably not cause any problems! We know our cats, more often than not they prefer to keep to themselves. And they are more likely to flee away, rather than go looking for trouble.