Reason why UK drivers don’t have to stop and report a collision with a cat

Olivia Holland-Rose, an actress who recently played a role in the Phantom of the Opera it is reported that she adopted a Somali purebred cat last Christmas and named him D’Artagnan. Sadly, he was run over by a car and killed. He was a gift from her husband. Looking at the photo of her with D’Artagnan I can say that he was not a Somali but a beautiful random-bred cat. Perhaps she was unaware.

D'Artagnan and Olivia
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

D’Artagnan and Olivia. Photo as per credit.

In the UK there is no obligation for a driver to report an accident with a cat on the road unlike the law concerning dogs. Olivia has started an online petition. I know that there is a group of ladies who have been campaigning for a change in the law for a number of years.

Cat Injured in Car Accident

Cat Injured in Car Accident. Original photo by woodleywonderworks.

It is unfair but the reason behind the unfairness is not because dogs are more valuable and there’s more concern for their lives but because of two practical and legal reasons. Firstly, dog owners are required by law to keep their dog on a lead when they are near a highway. If a dog is hit by a car the police have to investigate if the dog owner has broken the law in not having their dog on a lead. Dogs owners are also required to fit their dog with a collar.

Useful links
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As cats are allowed to roam freely there is no possibility of a cat owner breaking the law in the same way. Secondly, there is also a greater chance of damage to the car and/or the driver if they hit a dog because they are much larger than cats generally.

The same requirement to report a road traffic accident with an animal applies to horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules.

The problem is that the law ignores the relationship that a cat caregiver has with their cat which is as strong as the relationship between dog and owner. The law ignores this close bond in which both dog and cat owners regard their companion animal as members of the family.

Arguably, this emotional connection is a more powerful reason to report a road traffic accident then the two reasons stated.

And the research study carried out by CarBuyer found that almost 60% of British citizens agree that the law should be changed to include cats as well.

Their research together with data from Highways England indicate that as many as 8,000 cats are killed in road traffic accident that are unreported annually in England alone.

Note: This is an embedded Instagram post. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

A change would create an entirely different complexion on driving on British roads because under the 1988 Road Traffic Act the penalty for not reporting an accident with a dog is a maximum fine of £5000. It is the same penalty as a driver would receive if they failed to stop in a regular traffic collision. However, this is mitigated by the fact that the maximum fine is rarely applied and a collision with an animal would probably fall within the lowest category of sanctions which carries a fine of anywhere between 25%-175% of the offender’s weekly income plus 6 penalty points on their driving licence.

Currently, when a driver hits a cat on the road, many often drive on and treat it as just another one of those unfortunate things; a relatively unimportant incident. With a change in the law, it would become an important event in their lives which is the way it should be.

Below are some more articles on road traffic accidents.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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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