Have You Run Over A Cat?

I don’t think a website about cats can avoid writing about the hazards of traffic on the roads. Normally we refer to it as one of the dangers confronting an indoor/outdoor cat. Being hit by a car is probably the single biggest danger to the domestic cat in the world after being “euthanised” at a cat shelter…..that’s another story.

In this post I’d like to personalize the problem of cats being involved in car accidents and turn it around. Have you run over a cat? If you have what did you do?

A cat that just missed being run over by a car

A cat that just missed being run over by a car. Photo by MSVG. Photographer says he had to swerve to avoid the cat and it affected him. He had run over a squirrel earlier as I understand it and he changed his route.

If a person does drive into a domestic cat it will almost never be the driver’s fault. Whose fault is it? That is a big question. It was my fault. I let my darling girl cat outside after I moved home in 1994 (one of my first cats) and she went over the road at night and was killed by a car. I have guessed that that is what happened. She went missing and after a long search I found her under a tree next the road. I still have a problem psychologically with that.

Where I now live there are two stray tabby cats. They behave like stray cats but are owned I believe by a wealthy next door neighbour who has a very careless approach to cat caretaking. They walk over the road opposite my home. This is a fairly busy road. I have even seen them do this when I am in the kitchen. I can tell you it is agony watching it. I don’t have time to get out and try and stop the cat. It would make things worse anyway.

So far these cats have survived. They are smart and check the road first. A previous cat belonging to this women that used to eat at my place died on the road doing the exact same thing.

Because of this, when I drive home I am slightly fearful of meeting one of these cats on the road. I can tell you it would be traumatic to me and the cat if I ran over the cat. I can visualise the whole thing and it would be agony because I would find dealing with a seriously injured cat extremely traumatic especially if I had run over him even though it was not my fault.

The first thing I would do is steel myself and then check if the cat was alive. Even that task could present some really difficult problems. What if the cat was injured but alive and in the middle of the road? I’d have to stop the traffic. It is dangerous trying to stop traffic in London. People are impatient. Drivers won’t see why you want to stop them. It is a thoroughly unusual thing to do. It would probably cause arguments and people to sound their horn and become angry etc. Chaos and a dying cat. A horror story potentially for someone who loves cats.

I would then take the injured cat to the nearest vet and walk in and politely request that the a vet deals with the cat as a matter of urgency explaining the situation. Fortunately I know a great vet nearby so I’d be there in about 5 minutes but what if you ran over a cat in a place that was unfamiliar to you?

You’d have to find out where the nearest vet was. That could a bit tricky. Perhaps you’d knock on someone’s door. They probably wouldn’t answer in the modern scared world. People don’t these days. So what do you do? If you had an iPhone you could locate the nearest veterinarian using Google Maps and phone ahead. That is one great reason for buying an iPhone! They are great in emergencies. I don’t have an iPhone.

But if you are not technically minded and don’t even have a mobile phone it could be tricky. You’d have to pick up the cat and take him to the nearest town I suppose and ask questions looking for a vet. This is challenging.

Let’s say you find a vet and the cat is hospitalised. Who pays the bill? Then you have to find the “owner”. If the cat has a collar with a phone number or is microchipped – great. But a lot of cats don’t and aren’t. Especially in the UK. It may be better in the USA. But you have to travel long distances sometimes in the USA to get to a town. Things are more spaced out.

Well, I guess you get my point. If you run over a cat and you care and want to do the proper and decent thing it is going to be a tough, traumatic task. I guess a lot of people just drive on….

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Have You Run Over A Cat? — 13 Comments

  1. In the U.S. the person bringing the cat into a vet will be asked to pay. If you take it to the pound, they will try and deal with it if they can. There used to be a law about dead animal pickup here in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. If you wanted an animal picked up you had to pay. They changed it after someone wanted a wild Javelina removed from the highway — as it caused a traffic impairment — and than caused a big stink when she got the bill. I personally used to call in dead animal calls all the time on my day time newspaper route. Not to mention a horse I saw everyday who was suddenly laying down in the 115F heat. She foaled the next day. I was so happy to hear it on the news. Twenty years ago an animal in trouble call would of been basically ignored — I know when our neighbor trapped some of our cats and had them killed there was nothing we could do but post flyers on every single house in the neighborhood (about 400 homes). He stopped.

    If cats are born as indoor cats, they need to stay indoors. There are so many options now, the fencing you covered a few articles back, enclosed patios, leashes, tethers. Cats are remarkable creatures and they need to be outdoors. But not if it’s gonna end in their death or dismemberment.

    I wrote about a kitten who lost one of her legs a few months ago. Our neighbor paid to have her and her siblings taken care of. Bless those who are willing to foot the bill for cat that isn’t their own.

    • This is tough. It is certainly a disincentive to stop and take care of a cat if your car hits him or her. It poses a good question for me. Would a British vet treat a cat for free if you brought him in after hitting him in a road traffic accident? I doubt it. So the same rules apply it seems.

  2. In regards to the main question, I’ve never run over a cat myself, but a few family members have.

    My mum is a fantastic driver and she’s offed a bird and a kitten, and had to watch a puppy die due to a car accident. She cried about them (bar the pigeon) and told me they were some of the most horrible moments of her life. The puppy was in front of our old flat, an old couple was backing up and the kids in the house weren’t taking care of the dog properly and it ran out to be hit. It literally died in the kids’ arms, blood everywhere. The kitten was at night when I was little and she was going to Uni, she turned the corner to my Nan’s house to come get me after her day of school and ran over it before she could stop the car or even see it. I believe she was driving a Chrysler LeBaron at the time and if you’ve ever driven one they ride fairly low, so at least the poor thing went quickly. The bird wasn’t that long ago, we were driving in the country side and it hit the windshield. I cried and our friend comforted me with jokes but I’d never had anything die around me that was bigger than the pet canary and I was only five when that happened so it was fairly heartbreaking.

    If they’re strays, really you could just bury them yourself or call the equivalent of Animal Control (I think they’re the right group?) and they’ll come clean up the mess. The rest is just emotional healing.

    • One problem is knowing if the cat is a stray or “owned”. It can be hard to tell. I think a person has to try and find out. That is the one of the difficulties.

      • It’s the small towns that really have that problem but what I’ve found works best is to approach the house that that cat was nearest or coming from and ask the people living there. Usually they are the “owners” or know who the cat belonged to if it belonged to anyone. After one person is informed the whole neighbourhood knows, usually.

  3. What happened to you Michael, as you described it, is exactly what happened to me. I too found Red under a tree.

    I found a run over cat once and it had a collar with a number. Nobody had called clearly so I did and the owner came right out to the cat. It was sad. He was dead. Red had just a trickle of blood from his mouth and he had pooped himself but other than that was perfectly intact. No broken bones from what I could feel. It must have been internal damage and I hope so much that he died in an instant. It certainly seems that way. I still go over the moment I found him under a tree at least once or twice every day.

    When I lived in Canada a woman hit a cat and then she took it to the vet but it died and she came back to where she hit it and managed to find and tell the owner what happened. Clearly she had a cat of her own. What a good thing to do. I’m sure many feel bad and run away from the scene. I can’t bear the idea of Red being alive there as he was moved off the road and left under a tree. He must have died instantly right? How can one tell. But Red would not have been able to live inside. He wasn’t built for it and he was born outside. I dont know how to deal with it, clearly but it happened on the last day of June, so not long ago.

    • I think Red ran to the tree to die. Yes. Cats do that. My sweet girl had almost wet blood tricking from her mouth when I found her. She may have died slowly. I want to be with her. It is the hurt that makes me so tender towards cats and animals.

  4. There is a UK petition at present to make it a legal requirement to report a road accident involving a cat, it has 7864 signatures so far
    A law for this is long overdue because anyone running over a dog has to report it so why not a cat. If this law happens the police will be involved and hopefully take care of the injured or dead cat, taking him/her to a vet to be scanned for a microchip. A friend found a dead cat in the road in a busy part of this town just a few weeks back, took him to the vets who found a microchip and was able to inform the family. Very sad news for them but better than wondering why he didn’t come home and then searching for him.They shouldn’t have had an outdoor cat living by a busy road of course but the driver who killed him had just left him in the road. When I was vet nursing and anyone brought in an injured animal it was charged to the RSPCA if no owner was found but I don’t know if this still happens.I think anyone’s conscience, if they ran over a cat, should make them stop and take him/her to the nearest vet regardless of who will have to pay.

  5. The government no longer picks up any road kill, so you see a lot of carnage along the roads these days. I always look to see if it’s a cat. I know I shouldn’t, because if it is a cat it will be even more upsetting, but I still look. I never hit a cat, but I hit a squirrel back when I had just started driving. Today I think I could have avoided him. I was on my way to Boo-U (UWC-Baraboo/Sauk County) on Highway 12 between Lake Delton and Baraboo when he just suddenly ran out, ran right under my wheel. I should have been watching the side of the road more carefully. After that every day on the way to school I would see him again– my squirrel, dead on the side of the road. I could have avoided seeing him, but I was always running late, and that was the quickest way to school, so I’d end up driving by him. I kind of like that they changed the road there now, because now I can’t drive by the spot and say, “That’s the exact spot I hit that squirrel” because the road is all different now. I suppose to only have hit one animal in all the years I’ve been driving is pretty good. I’m just glad he died quickly (seemed like he did) and that he wasn’t someone’s companion animal.

  6. I’ve been fortunate in my long driving life of over 50 years, that I’ve never hit any animal, nor have I lost any of my cats, even though all of them have been indoor/outdoor.

    The cat I have had for 5 years was a feral, but she has adapted to indoor life, with daily outings on a leash with a snug fitting velco halter. I will never allow her to roam freely outdoors because I consider it too risky for her safety, and my mental/emotional health.

    • You have been lucky or perhaps there are few outdoor cats in your area. When I drive home I am very aware of the possibility of encountering a cat because there are at least five outdoor cats living with close neighbours so I drive at a max of around 10 mph. Perhaps the cats are car savvy.

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