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Advice from vet experts on how to reduce your cat’s risk of being involved in a road traffic accident

Cats love to explore outdoors, and sometimes that means they can encounter dangerous situations, like crossing busy roads.

According to a University of Bristol study, the risk of cats being involved in road traffic accidents is actually quite low, especially in urban and suburban areas. In Cats Protection’s CATS report 2021, road traffic accidents were stated as a cause of injury for just 4% of cats.

brown tabby cat walking on grassy verge next to car

However, for those cats that are involved in road traffic accidents, it’s common for them to sustain life-changing or even fatal injuries, and so many owners are concerned about their cat’s safety around roads.

To help you keep your cat safe, here’s our vet-approved advice for reducing your cat’s risk of being injured on the road.

1. Neuter your cat

Getting your cat neutered will mean they’re less likely to stray far from home in search of a mate. With less desire to roam, they should hopefully stay nearby and avoid crossing busy roads.

2. Keep your cat indoors at night

There is an increased risk of your cat being involved in road traffic accidents at night, as it is more difficult for motorists to see them on the roads. Keeping them indoors when it gets dark will help to keep them safe, and also reduce the chance of them crossing roads in search of wildlife to hunt, which they are more likely to do at dawn and dusk.

3. Put a reflective collar on your cat

To help drivers see your cat better on the roads at night, you could fit your cat with a reflective collar that will shine in the beam of headlights. Make sure the collar is a ‘quick release’ or snap opening collar, so your cat won’t get hurt if their collar becomes caught on something.

tortoiseshell cat sitting in long grass

4. Create the perfect home for your cat

Your cat may be less likely to stray onto busy roads if they have everything they need close to home. Make sure they have food and fresh water, a private litter tray, a scratch post and plenty of comfy beds and hiding places. If you have more than one cat, they’ll need at least one of each, plus one extra.

5. Get pet insurance

If your cat is involved in a road traffic accident, they could be badly injured and need urgent veterinary treatment. Taking out pet insurance will help you cover the cost of the treatment they need to recover, giving you peace of mind that you won’t need to worry about expensive vet bills.

6. Get your cat microchipped

If your cat is injured on the road, then having them microchipped and keeping the details up to date will mean you can be contacted quickly when they are found and scanned. If your cat is sadly killed on the road, then microchipping increases your chances of being informed of their death, so you can get some closure.

Should I keep my cat indoors?

tortoiseshell-and-white cat sleeping on cushion on back of grey sofa in front of windowsill

If you live near a busy road, you might be wondering if it’s safer to keep your cat indoors all the time. Some cats will be happy to stay inside, providing they have everything they need at home, but others may get frustrated and stressed by not being able to go out exploring, which can lead to other health issues and problem behaviours. You’ll need to assess your own cat’s needs and weigh up the welfare risks of keeping them indoors vs the risk of them getting injured on the road.

If you do decide to keep your cat indoors, make sure they have lots to keep them entertained and prevent them becoming frustrated, such as puzzle feeders and regular interactive play sessions using fishing rod toys.

You could also consider providing them with an enclosed garden, or ‘catio’, so they can still get some fresh air outdoors while staying safe. Fill the garden with lots of interesting cat-safe plants that provide great places to hide and watch the world go by, and perhaps even put up a cat-proof bird feeder to create some interest for your feline friend.

What to do if you find a cat on the road

black-and-white cat walking along concrete path next to grassy verge

If you accidently hit a cat with your car, or if you find a cat on the road, then stop if it safe to do so.

Whether the cat is injured or dead, take them to the nearest veterinary surgery if you can, or report them to the local council. If the cat needs treatment, you will not be asked to pay as vets are able to provide free emergency care to stray cats in need. They will also be able to scan the cat for a microchip so the owner can hopefully be contacted quickly to let them know where their cat is.

Cats Protection also encourages all local authorities to scan cats they find on the road for a microchip and inform the owner. We have provided some local councils with microchip scanners to help them do this.

Find out more about how to keep your cat safe outside with our guide.

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