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I have two small minpins, and as I was giving them their evening walk, a cat darted out of the bushes and tried to attack them. My first reaction was to sling my dogs behind me, which forced the cat to overshoot and zip past us. As soon as it did, it stopped and came right back at us, so again I slung my (now yapping) dogs behind me, and it overshot. Again, it turned around and came back at us.

I was getting tired of playing matador and I didn't want to hurt my dogs by throwing them about by the neck, so on the cat's next pass I managed to hook my foot under it and toss it away - not a kick, but as gentle a punt as I could manage to tell it to get lost. Again, as soon as it landed, it came back, and as I was out of options I kicked it straight in the face, launching it right back into the bushes. I heard it scurry away and it never came back.

After we got home I checked my dogs to see if they'd been hurt, and thankfully there wasn't a scratch on them.

What should I have done in this situation? I feel bad for hurting an animal (especially since I don't know if it was feral or not - I was too busy protecting my dogs to notice a collar) but I couldn't think of any other way to keep it away.

If it was somebody's pet, could they take legal action against me? Or is it the owner's responsibility since their pet was attacking mine?

  • Cat's generally hate loud noises. If it happens again, try screaming/yelling at it, and flailing your arms. You could probably do a web search for "how to scare away a cat" for ways that don't involve any physical contact. – Beo Sep 8 '16 at 14:38
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You were under attack.

Yes the perpetrator was only a cat, but you were still under attack. You were the victim here from a human point of view.

Animals work to different sets of rules however. Some animals are territorial. Even within breeds of cats and dogs you will find a great range of territorial behaviour.

The cat felt threatened because you and your dogs were in its territory. So the cat attacked in an effort to force you to leave.

How were you to know you were in its territory? Simple answer - you simply cannot know - well not the first time. You know now.

It's very easy to feel bad about this situation but things you need to keep in mind:

  1. The situation was unexpected;
  2. You were forced to defend yourself and your dogs;
  3. You had little time to think and only time to react;
  4. You were in an urban environment? If so you were in a human dominated environment that contains mostly domestic pets.

In such an environment it is the owner of the domestic pet who is responsible for the behaviour of their animal.

You attempted to protect your dogs without harming the cat, which you did for the initial approaches.

Only after significant hurt did the cat decide to back down.

What were the alternatives?

That you allow the cat to attack you or your dogs? Would you then sue the owners of the cat for the damage to you or your dogs? Unlikely and not a very satisfactory outcome for you.

I think you acted as most people would. You defended yourself until it was obvious that action was not working, then take increasingly drastic action until the attack stopped.

Maybe it is sensible to avoid the area in future.

In the case that you cannot avoid the area, then ask the owner whether they are willing to have a conversation about their cat. They may or may not be aware that their cat is behaving in this way. They may or may not be willing to do anything about it regardless.

If it becomes a serious and ongoing problem that stops you enjoying your day and the owner of the cat is not willing to talk or act, then you are within your rights to approach your local regional administration, such as local council. These people will be able to assist you with a formal complaint and may even approach the cat owner on your behalf.

Importantly you should not feel bad about what happened. You acted to defend yourself and your dogs with as much consideration as you could under the circumstances.

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