Traffic accidents involving cats and other animals are a sad reality. Cats often run across the street without being aware of the deadly danger. Here is FOUR PAWS’ advice for what to do when a cat is struck by a passing car.
1. Secure the accident site
Whether the accident involved you or you are a first responder: secure the accident site according to your country’s guidance (e.g. with a warning triangle). Make sure that you do not put yourself in danger.
2. Keep calm
Try to keep a cool head and look out for someone who can help you. A cat that is in severe pain or in shock can bite and scratch out of fear. Cat bites and scratches must be treated medically as they can cause infection.
3. First aid
► Assess the severity of the injuries of the cat. Life-threatening conditions include severe bleeding, head injuries, broken bones and respiratory and cardiac arrest. This information is important if you contact the nearest veterinary practice/clinic and the staff require information over the phone.
► Stop the bleeding: Focus on the area from where bleeding is greatest. Stop the bleeding by applying firm pressure on the wound.
► Broken bones: Avoid any unnecessary movement of the cat to aggravate any existing injuries to the spine and pelvis.
► Apply the ABC rule:
A: Freeing up AIRWAYS
B: BREATHING (mouth to nose)
C: CIRCULATION (feel for a heartbeat on the inside of the thigh. In case of cardiac arrest, begin heart massage)
4. Drive to the vet
Once you have stabilised the cat, take it to a veterinarian. If the accident occurs at night when veterinary offices are closed, still contact them as most clinics will give an emergency number you can contact for help. If they don’t, go online via a mobile to find the details of your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
Once at the clinic ask them to scan the cat for a microchip so that the owner can be contacted. If there is no microchip you can return to the accident site to make enquiries with local residents to help find the owner of the cat.
If you find a dead cat
Stop and secure the location. Place the animal's body on the side of the road and report the location to the police or your local authority. A dead cat displays no reflexes, has no heartbeat and is not breathing. You can also enquire with local residents to see if they know who the owner of the cat is so they can be informed.
Identification, registration and neutering are very important
Every cat owner should have their cat identified with a microchip and registered with a pet microchip database company. In case of an accident, the owner can therefore be identified and contacted. The contact details need to be up to date, which is the responsibility of the owner.
Having cats neutered also limits roaming activities, especially in male cats. This in turn reduces the risks of cats crossing roads and being involved in road accidents.