Adopting a Cat Less Likely to be Involved in a Road Traffic Accident

This page concerns the UK but to a lesser extent it would also apply to the USA. A study looked at the factors which may predispose cats to being involved in road traffic accidents (RTA). The number of cats in the study was 115.

Cat Injured in Car Accident

Cat Injured in Car Accident. Original photo by woodleywonderworks.

The study compared these 115 cats with a control group of 794 cats who had never been in a RTA. The following information was gleaned from the study:

RTA cats are normally younger. 46% of the cats involved in traffic accidents were between the ages of seven and 24 months.

Another characteristic of cats involved in RTAs is that they are male and non-pedigree. 62% of the cats involved in an accident were male and either unneutered or neutered. 97% of the cats were non-pedigree.

The odds of being involved in a RTA decreased by 16% for every year increase in age. Clearly experience counts.

The odds of a male being involved in a RTA is 1.9 times higher than for females irrespective of whether the cats were entire or neutered.

The odds of a pedigree cat being involved in a RTA was 0.29 those from non-pedigree cats. This is less than one third.

In addition, there was a tendency for more accidents to happen during the night than the day. And, of course, proportionally more of the cats involved in an accident lived in areas with high levels of traffic. That obviously doesn’t really require being stated. It would appear that male cats go wandering quite widely at night or at least potentially. Most cat owners don’t know where their cats go. There is an argument that people should know where their cats go to. Today you can buy radio collars which allow the owner to track the movements of their cat. I’m not necessarily recommending this but it would tell the owner whether their cat is wandering onto roads.


The advice that can be given to concerned cat owners who let their cats outside whether they be in the UK or the USA (but this advice naturally applies more to the UK where only about 8.4% of cats are confined to the indoors), is that it may be appropriate to adopt a neutered female, possibly a pedigree purebred cat that is older and which is kept in at night. Further the ideal would be to live in an area where there is a low level of traffic.

P.S. — My boy cat goes out at night. He sleeps during the day. I am concerned but the area is very safe in respect of traffic as the nearest road is several hundred yards away and there are barriers to getting there.

Please comment on Facebook as well as it helps spread the word – thanks.

Source: pages 196-97 of The Welfare of Cats. ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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9 Responses

  1. Albert Schepis says:

    What’s worked for me and mine does go along the lines of what’s shared here, but I’ve emphasized constant supervision and positive training – and knowing each cat intimately. Between 1 and 3 is when most of mine have been more lively and adventurous, after which I can trust their habits. Making home a fun and safe haven is key, as is knowing that morning is the safest time to indulge them – they are their most energetic and playful; and not being stamina-based exercisers, about an hour or so and they’re ready to lay in the shade with you. At my peak I had nine cats at a time in fairly good control and safety. An hour of play, and hour of napping, then they’d be content the rest of the day. I learned to get them in for dinner and keep them in for the night or I might not see them until morning. The worst thing that has happened were brief cat fights with night cats but that’s reason enough to keep them in at night, and like I said, I pay attention to them so they like my company.

  2. Eva D.R.Force says:

    Dear Michael_I would like to have a fence, but we can’t put one in where we live. Thanks for your comments and concern.Maybe our cat will become wiser with age?

  3. Eva D.R.Force says:

    Michael_I appreciate your quick reply. Ebony only runs from the car horn if she is already under the car, so you are correct about her being laid back. I keep her in the workshop at night.Her antics occur during the daytime, while we are awake and running errands, gardening etc.

    I did manage to retrain her not to use my garden as her litter box by keeping a spray bottle handy and laying wire mesh on the ground below my plants. This worked great.

    Being a stray born outdoors and abandoned by her mother at an early age has caused her to develop her own unique and dangerous habits.
    Maybe I could find a pair of giant stick on eyes to decorate my front bumper with Lol-but not so funny.This still wouldn’t address the issue of her alarming and false sense of security.

    Thanks Michael-

    • Michael Broad says:

      I have tried to use deterrents to keep a former cat that I loved away from the road but it did not work. It is a terribly difficult problem to resolve. The problem of an outdoor cat being safe from road traffic. There truly is no easy answer – almost no answer at all. I’ve always stated that the best compromise is a large enclosure where a cat can experience the stimulations and sounds of the outside while being safe from predators or traffic et cetera.

      But this is not always suitable for various reasons. And some people disagree with large enclosures but as the world becomes more highly populated with humans I predict that tailor-made domestic cat enclosures will become more popular and be seen as a more conventional solution as it is a good compromise.

  4. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA says:

    Eva, honking your horn doesn’t work? This is a very laid back cat, with no fear of cars, which seems dangerous.

  5. Eva D.R.Force says:

    Michael_ This is an interesting study. Our adopted cat is about a year old and female. She is an outdoor cat, but has a building she can access anytime she wants. I have noticed she crosses our lot , which has low level traffic , more than we would prefer.She was spayed a few months after we treated her for fleas, upper respiratory and gave her time to get used to us and her new home.

    Ebony does not seem to be aware of the dangers and will sleep under my car and has been seen climbing onto the wheel of my husband’s van. Needless to say-I have to rattle my keys ,honk my horn and watch out t for Ebony. Now she just lays there in the space where I park my car , watching me pull up and not moving? What should we do about this?

    • Michael Broad says:

      Eva, the fact that you are asking what you can do about it tells me that there is no easy answer even if there is an answer at all because you have all the answers being a cat expert. 😉 The only sure-fire way to ensure that your cat does not get run over is to take steps which are going to be unacceptable to you such as keeping your cat inside all the time or moving home (but that would not necessarily fix the problem of her laying in your cat parking space!). Both of these are unacceptable. The study does say that most cats roam more at night and therefore you might wish to keep her inside at night. She is quite young so as she gets older she will be safer according to the study. Cats certainly are not aware of the dangers of automobiles. They have no conception about how to avoid them and often live dangerously in and around them.

  1. December 14, 2020

    […] makes them more cautious, which protects them from traffic accidents and other dangerous incidents. It is the confident young male cats who are most likely to be run over by a vehicle on the road. Or to get into a fight and be […]

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