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Road Traffic Accidents in Cats

Daisy’s Story and Road Traffic Accidents in cats in the Autumn months

“Daisy” was a beautiful, close coated, pristine, white cat, with the most amazing, alluring yellow eyes. When she looked up at me as a kitten, she looked just like a pretty, Daisy ‘flower’.

I remember I told her owners at her first vaccinations appointment that she really suited her name!

Daisy loved being outdoors and she particularly loved the Autumn months with all the wonderful leaves flying around the garden. Sadly, one dark autumn evening, Daisy’s excitement caused her to venture further afield than usual. She came across a busy road, and sadly she was severely injured in a road traffic accident. She was in shock, and her left hind leg and pelvis were badly fractured. Daisy was thankfully stabilised in our clinic, and she then had extensive orthopaedic surgery and required several months of cage rest before she was able to walk normally again. Her owners were devastated and very worried for her thereafter, and they made sure she was fed her main meals and kept in at night. 

Pet cats allowed outdoors can have a wonderful life of freedom, patrolling their territories, hunting, and behaving naturally. Sadly though, pet cats allowed outdoors are at risk of being injured or killed in road accidents. 

As the days grow shorter, cats will inevitably spend more time outside in the dark and the findings show just how important it is to keep them safe during the darker, and more dangerous, Autumn months. 

Male crossbred cats aged six months to six years are most at risk at this time of year. Sadly, cats with abdominal or spinal injuries due to road traffic accidents are the most likely not to survive. Due to this risk, some owners may choose to keep their cats indoors during the night and around the morning and evening busy traffic rush hours. 

Any cat that spends time outdoors could be a risk of being in an accident. However, some cats are more at risk than others. Younger cats and unneutered cats, especially males, are particularly at risk. This is because they are more likely to roam further from their home in the search for a mate or in defending their territory if they are unneutered. Also, cats who live near busy roads with high levels of traffic also are at higher risk. Cats who spend time outside at night, when it is more difficult for drivers to see them crossing the road, are also at a higher risk of being in an accident. 

There are some steps you can take to try reducing your cat’s risk of being involved in a road traffic accident; Some people keep their cats indoors, in order to keep them safe from busy roads. This might be a solution for some cats, but most cats do enjoy living outdoors and it is not always possible to provide the same quality of life if they live as indoor cats; Neuter your pet cats, as they will be much less likely to roam in search of a mate or to get into fights; Keep cats indoors at night-time and let them out only during daylight hours. To ensure this try feeding your cat its main meal of the day as it starts to get dark. They will soon get used to this schedule and will come back home ready for their evening feed; 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, branches, or other object while they are 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 cannot wander onto the road. You can use specialist fencing or large “cat aviaries “giving them access to the outdoors, but without the worries and the risks.  

Keeping your cat indoors all the time will of course keep them safe from cars and roads, but there are some potential welfare issues to indoor living. Owners of house cats need to also provide them with plenty of indoor, environmental enrichment. Provide plenty of hiding areas, and “high -up” shelved areas for surveying around them. Provide scratching and climbing posts, and plenty of toys that let them behave naturally by allowing climbing, hiding, pouncing, and hunting instincts. 

Also, good advice here is to always have adequate pet insurance for your pet. Road traffic accidents involving cats are unfortunately common and inevitably result in the need for emergency veterinary treatment. Which again highlights the importance of having a good, lifelong, pet insurance policy. If the worst does happen and your cat is involved in a road traffic accident, they could be very severely injured. Pet Insurance will cover the cost of any extensive veterinary treatment, so that you can focus on your cat’s recovery without any additional financial worries. 

Also, always get your cat microchipped. It is extremely important that all pet cats are microchipped. This means that you will be more likely to be reunited with your beloved cat if they go missing, or to find out what has happened to them if they are unfortunately involved in a road traffic accident. 

Lovely wee "Daisy - Flower" healed well and she was quite settled and happy with her new routine. She lived a long and happy comfortable life, but she was always kept indoors at night. 

 

Alison Laurie-Chalmers, 

Senior Consultant, 

Crown Vets

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