Laser treatment

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues of neighbours using a laser gun to deter a cat from roaming into their part of a divided garden
Laser Treatment cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (
Question: I live in a flat that is one wing of a larger house. It has a small garden, divided from the plot of the main house by a high stone wall.

My cat, which is the apple of my eye, roams into the other garden and the owners have used a laser gun to deter it.

They have now started to direct the laser at the cat when it is on the wall and in my garden. I was really upset and wrote to the neighbours, who replied saying they were merely protecting their garden and the birds in it and had done nothing wrong. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Cats are expected, by their nature, to roam and you cannot be liable for its actions. The neighbours are obviously proud of their garden and cats can cause damage by digging in flower beds.

However, the neighbours’ actions are disproportionate. I am not sure what the laser involves but it may well be caught by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence of cruelty to “cause an animal to suffer”.

This would be whether the cat is on their land or your land. It is arguably a trespass by the neighbours when the cat is in your own garden and the neighbours would be liable if they damaged the cat and it required veterinary care.
However, as with all disputes between neighbours, this should be dealt with informally - if at all possible.

I recommend that you set up a meeting and talk matters over with them and try to resolve the problem amicably. Remember that you have to live next to these people and peaceful coexistence is preferable to open hostility.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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