Understanding the Legalities: Is Trapping and Killing Cats Illegal in Texas?
Let's face it many communities across the great state of Texas have a problem with stray cats.
These cats haven't been spayed or neutered and keep having continuous litters and the population of strays grows. Most cities encourage pet owners to have their cats spayed or neutered and most do, however, some don't and that is what creates the chaos of stray cats. Some cities also have Trap and Release programs, or TNRs.
However, I don't think this allows a person to trap and kill cats.
Recently, I ran across a story about a family who lost their pet cat and found out someone in their neighborhood allegedly trapped the cat and killed it. This person allegedly killed the cat because it was eating chicken eggs.
Most domesticated cats don't eat raw eggs from chicken coops. Not saying they don't, but highly unlikely. If you are living in an area where chickens are present, then it is more than likely a wild animal like a skunk, snake, rat, opossum, raccoon, coyote, fox, blue jay, or crow would be eating the chicken eggs, rather than a pet cat.
This story rubbed me the wrong way, so I decided to start looking into the law in Texas.
According to a complications document on Texas Animal State Laws for the City of Wells, Texas:
Shooting “stray” Dogs and Cats (Penal Code 42.09 Animal Cruelty). Any person who shoots a non-livestock animal, which includes any stray or feral cat or dog, and a wild living creature previously captured, can be charged with a felony offense. Penal Code 42.092 of the State of Texas law states that a person must have the owner’s consent to kill the animal (exceptions to prosecution are provided in Section 42.092(e)(1)). It is clear
Looking further the following are the laws against cruelty to nonlivestock animals in Texas which cats would fall under, here is an excerpt of the Texas Penal Code:
Sec. 42.092. CRUELTY TO NONLIVESTOCK ANIMALS. (a) In this section:
(1) "Abandon" includes abandoning an animal in the person's custody without making reasonable arrangements for the assumption of custody by another person.
(2) "Animal" means a domesticated living creature, including any stray or feral cat or dog, and a wild living creature previously captured. The term does not include an uncaptured wild living creature or a livestock animal.
(3) "Cruel manner" includes a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.
(4) "Custody" includes responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of an animal subject to the person's care and control, regardless of ownership of the animal.
(5) "Depredation" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.
(6) "Livestock animal" has the meaning assigned by Section 42.09.
(7) "Necessary food, water, care, or shelter" includes food, water, care, or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
(8) "Torture" includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(2) without the owner's effective consent, kills, administers poison to, or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(3) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person's custody;
(4) abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;
(5) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;
(6) without the owner's effective consent, causes bodily injury to an animal;
(7) causes one animal to fight with another animal, if either animal is not a dog;
(8) uses a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack; or
(9) seriously overworks an animal.
(c) An offense under Subsection (b)(3), (4), (5), (6), or (9) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.09, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.09.
(c-1) An offense under Subsection (b)(1) or (2) is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the person has previously been convicted under Subsection (b)(1), (2), (7), or (8) or under Section 42.09.
(c-2) An offense under Subsection (b)(7) or (8) is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted under this section or under Section 42.09.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the actor had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the actor or to another person by a dangerous wild animal as defined by Section 822.101, Health and Safety Code; or
(2) the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b)(2) or (6) that:
(1) the animal was discovered on the person's property in the act of or after injuring or killing the person's livestock animals or damaging the person's crops and that the person killed or injured the animal at the time of this discovery; or
(2) the person killed or injured the animal within the scope of the person's employment as a public servant or in furtherance of activities or operations associated with electricity transmission or distribution, electricity generation or operations associated with the generation of electricity, or natural gas delivery.
Looking at the following, if a neighbor trapped a cat and killed it, then it would be considered cruel and thus against the law. Regardless, if the person believed that the cat caught was killing its animals. If a person witnesses a cat attacking their animals and believes it was a threat and killed it, that person would have a defense. They were protecting their property and animals from a cat.
But trapping a cap and killing it for the sake of killing it because you believe it was hurting your property, is not an excuse. If anything, the person that trapped the cat should turn the cat over to animal control, not kill it.
When it comes to your pet cats, please make sure they have a visible collar and tag (and yes keeping a collar on some cats can be a nightmare). Although in a trapping situation where the cat was killed a microchip would not be helpful, but if your pet gets lost and someone kind finds it, it can help bring your pet home.
Always be alert of your surroundings, and if you have a person that lives near you that could cause your pet harm, do your best to keep your pet away from that area.