Keeping cats safe on our roads
Outdoor cats can have a wonderful life of freedom, patrolling their area and behaving like wild cats. Sadly, cats are also at risk of being injured or killed in accidents on busy roads.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your cat’s risk of being involved in a road traffic accident.
Cats at risk of traffic accidents
Any cat that spends time outdoors could be a risk of being in an accident. However, some cats are more at risk than others:
- Young cats and unneutered cats (especially males) are particularly at risk of being involved in road traffic accidents. This is because they are more likely to roam further from their home in the search for a mate.
- Cats who live near busy roads with high levels of traffic have a higher chance of an accident.
- Cats who spend time outside at night, when it’s more difficult for drivers to see cats crossing the road, are at a higher risk of being in an accident.
How to reduce the risk for your cat
Keeping your cat indoor is an obvious solution but for some cats this is a difficult option, especially if they are already used to outdoor living. If it is possible for your cat to live an indoor life make sure you have plenty of boredom breakers and a nice size of area for your cat to roam. If keeping a cat indoors is not possible, there are things you can do to help your outdoor cat stay safer around roads:
- Neuter your cats. They’ll be much less likely to roam in search of a mate or to get into fights.
- Keep cats indoors at night and let them out during daylight hours. Try feeding your cat as it starts to get dark. They’ll soon get used to this schedule and will come back home ready for the night.
- Reflective collars can help drivers see cats in the dark or in poor light. Choose a break-away style collar which will open if your cat catches it on a fence, branch or other object while they’re out exploring.
- If you live in a busy area with lots of traffic, consider only letting your cat out into a secure garden or safe outdoor area so they can’t wander onto the road. You can use specialist fencing or large cat aviaries.
- Get pet insurance. If the worst does happen and your cat is involved in a road traffic accident, they could be very badly injured. Pet Insurance will cover the cost of any extensive veterinary treatment so you can focus on your cat’s recovery without money worries.
- Get your cat microchipped. You’ll be more likely to be reunited with your cat if they go missing or to find out what’s happened to them if they’re in a road traffic accident. This will soon become a legal requirement and we expect a national surge for microchips, so do book an appointment as soon as possible.
Keeping your cat indoors will keep them safe from cars and roads but there are potential issues to indoor living. Owners of house cats need to provide plenty of environmental enrichment – giving their cats scratching and climbing posts and toys that let them behave naturally by climbing, hiding, pouncing and hunting.
What else can you do?
Sadly, many cats are injured or killed on the roads each year. Councils currently don’t have to scan any deceased cats for microchips. Many cat owners simply never find out what happened to their much-loved pet after they go missing. This is under review by our government and the veterinary college and a change would make it a requirement for a cat to be scanned and an owner informed. This is of course only possible when a microchip is present.
Currently, a driver does not have to stop if they hit a cat but this is also a topic that is under review and is heavily supported by the veterinary industry. By making drivers stop if they accidentally hit a cat gives the cat a chance to get help. If the cat hasn’t survived, the nearest veterinary surgery can scan for a microchip and contact the cat’s owners to let them know what’s happened.
Our advice for drivers is:
- Stop – if it is safe to do so. You may be able to help an injured cat.
- Help – Take an injured or deceased cat to the nearest veterinary surgery. You won’t be asked for any money and every vet will provide emergency care to a pet in need.
- Report – If the cat has been killed, the police advise drivers to make local enquiries in case the owner can be located, or take the body to a local veterinary practice where they can scan for a microchip.
How microchipping your cat helps
Getting your cat microchipped means they’re much more likely to be reunited with you if they go missing. It also increases the chances of you being contacted if your cat is injured or, sadly, killed in an accident on the road. These campaigns happening as we speak rely on owner compliance also and that begins with a microchip. A microchip costs £19.99* and lasts the lifetime of your cat.
*at time of printing, 29/09/2022