While dog owners often have to pay more than 100 euros a year for dog tax, cat owners in Germany usually don’t have to pay anything. The reasons for this are rooted in the past.
Many dog owners wonder why they have to pay taxes for their pets while cat owners don’t have to pay taxes. After all, the differences in keeping the two animal species are no longer as apparent as they were when the dog tax was introduced.
The dog tax in Germany – how it all began
The dog tax was introduced in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century and could be of different amounts depending on the discretion of the respective municipality. Since dogs were more of a luxury item at the time, the fee was mainly aimed at wealthy people who kept the dogs as pets – cat owners, on the other hand, held the four-legged friends primarily for convenient reasons.
As court cats, they dedicated themselves to the mice, rats and
Bug hunting, therefore, had an essential function for the village community, which the community could not do without. So it never occurred to anyone to ask cat owners to pay. Even if the animals are kept very differently today, the introduction of the cat tax is not to be expected shortly because that would not be so easy.
Why there is no cat tax today
First, it would take quite a complicated legislative change to give municipalities the legal ability to enact a cat tax. Since cats are still kept in many cases to support farms and the like, free of rats and mice, there is no denying that they have a specific added value to the community. Furthermore, many cats are kept permanently in the apartment or their garden with secure access so a general cat tax would be unjustified for the owners of pure house cats. Taxing only cats out on the loose, even if they are not neutered, would be fair, analogous to the dog tax, but would be difficult to control.
In addition, the dog tax should also control the keeping of potentially dangerous dog breeds because dog owners pay a lot more for them. On the other hand, there are tax exemptions for rescue, assistance and herding dogs, and four-legged friends that have successfully passed the companion dog test. Dogs kept as part of a hobby breed are usually exempt from the tax. There are no cat breeds considered more dangerous than others – at least none that roam free outside. This is also an argument against a cat tax for many people.
Cat tax rumours turned out to be false.
At irregular intervals, rumours flare up repeatedly that a cat tax is to be introduced. A comment in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) in January 2017 caused confusion. In his text, the author advocated raising a cat tax because the animals would decimate the native bird and small animal world and thus leave an enormous “ecological footprint”. The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” (FAS) claimed a few days later that politicians from the “Greens” party were in favour of introducing a cat tax.
However, the federal spokesman for the “Green Youth”, Moritz Heuberger, only formulated very vaguely that a “comprehensive analysis” of the “cat problem” would make sense and spoke out neither for nor against taxing velvet paws. Before thinking about such a change in the law, more information would have to be obtained beforehand. In addition, the cat population is “probably the least problem for the environment in Germany,” Heuberger clarified on his Facebook page.
Stray and unneutered outdoor cats are a problem.
In some areas, there are indeed large populations of stray cats that breed uncontrollably, partly because not all cats that are allowed outside are neutered. This is more of a problem, also for the native bird and small animal world than neutered house cats with a permanent residence. However, this is difficult to monitor and quantify, so a cat tax would not be very effective in this regard.
Instead, it would be expedient to make castration compulsory for cats not intended for breeding. It is also an obligation to provide one’s cats with a chip so that they can be quickly assigned to their owner in case of doubt. You can also find tips on protecting the birdlife in your area from your little predator in our guide, “Letting cats outside during the breeding season: How to protect young birds”.
The trouble with the neighbours because of the cats? You can do that.
It can still happen that you get into a fight with the neighbours because your cat misappropriates their flower bed as a toilet or roams over your property without being asked. Ideally, you should secure your garden so that your cat only stays on your property. If this is not possible, you can at least limit the radius of the cat’s territory somewhat by neutering it. Also, teach your velvet paw to come back into the house when called – then the free space is at least a little limited. You can read what the law says about this in our guide, “Cats outdoors and neighbourhood law: What is allowed?” read.