Cats On Roads: What Can You Do?

Many thousands of cats get hit by vehicles on our roads every year in the UK. In the last weeks I’ve heard about a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) on an online forum I frequent, and also had one of my clients contact me to take their now deceased pet off my books.

At least 4 cats owned by either me, or my family while I was growing up, were killed by cars and another three were badly injured but survived. But that was in NZ, here in the UK RTA’s do seem to occur less frequently.

About half of cats hit by cars will die from their injuries; many more survive but are permanently damaged having lost a leg, hip or tail. A few lucky felines recover completely from their injuries but most RTA survivors  become very wary of vehicles and roads for the rest of their lives. Of course, there are always exceptions.

It’s true that once you let your cat out of the house you have no control of where it goes but there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of your pet being run over or hit by a car.

1/ Consider keeping your cat as a house cat. A house cat never gets to go outside, and as such is not at risk of being run over. The downside to having an inside cat is that you do need to work a bit harder to look after your pet. You will have to change litter trays and make sure your cat gets enough exercise and doesn’t get bored. And if a house cat ever escapes outside, they will not be very streetwise so are probably in greater danger of being hit by a car than a cat allowed to roam freely.

Variations on the theme of keeping a cat indoors permanently include

a/allowing them outdoors only on harness and lead a few times a day

b/Building them a cat run so they can get outside but not roam free.

2/ Keep your cat in overnight. Most RTA’s happen at night so if you keep your cat in from dusk to dawn, you reduce the chances of your cat becoming a statistic. There is a very clever cat door that can sense when it’s night and when it’s day and locks itself at night!

3/ Have your cat neutered. Neutered cats roam less so are less likely to get run over.

4/If you move house, consider the road your potential house is on. A very busy road is less of a danger than one where traffic moves along it intermittently. Cats see a constant traffic flow as a kind of wall to be avoided, whereas a quiet road is seen as safe place to cross. Just because you have a large garden out the back doesn’t mean cats will never go out the front.

5/ Don’t allow your cat to lie or climb on stationary cars. Use a water pistol to train them not to sleep under cars or walk near them. If you come home and find your cat sitting in your driveway, shoo it away before you drive towards it. Putting the car in neutral so it can’t move, flashing lights and revving your engine can help persuade your cat that cars are scary, and should be avoided.

If you think your cat has been hit by a car, even if it seems fine, you should visit your vet for a check up.

And if you run over someone else’s cat, please stop and see if you can find the owner. A lot of cats manage to get themselves off the road when they are hit, and run for a short period of time but will collapse nearby. These cats will probably die without urgent veterinary attention so it’s probably more important to get them to a surgery than find an owner.

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