I have had cat bite cases. This was a long time ago, and the question is: Is it strict liability? I think the answer is no. I don’t think there is a statute that speaks to a negligence standard.
Anecdotally, my client was house-sitting for a friend who owned a cat, and part of my client’s responsibility a house sitter was to feed the cat and act as a companion. The cat bit my client and caused numerous painful puncture wounds, some of which were permanent. The cat owner never warned my client that the cat had any propensity to bite. We recovered compensation for my client.
I think that the cat owner has the duty of care to warn you if they know the cat has a violent propensity. After the fact, the cat owner may say, “I had absolutely no idea my cat had a violent propensity. My cat has never bitten anyone before.” You can either take the owner’s word for it, or you can do some research through The Humane Society, Animal Control, and other sources to determine if that’s true.
Learn more about dog bites in California.