This has been a long time coming. It is very reasonable to place an obligation on drivers of vehicles who hit and kill a domestic cat on the road to report the incident to the police and/or the local authorities because a lot of cats are killed on the road but their owners don’t know about it. The owner has simply lost her cat. There is no closure. And yes, I know cat owners should be more responsible and not let their cat roam near roads (or at all) but that is another topic.
I could not find any relevant US law on how drivers should respond to roadkill. I don’t believe that drivers have to report it if they kill a cat. One difficulty is that it would be pointless, to be honest, to try and report the killing of a feral cat. And often you can’t tell the difference between feral and domestic. Therefore all cats killed on the road should be reported and the body scanned for a microchip.
In the UK, drivers have to report the killing of a dog on the road. They are required to stop and report to the police if they hit a dog or farm animal. It is against the law not to do so. No such rule applies to cats. This has been a discussion point for a while and the law may well change in the UK.
Gemma Conway, an advertising executive, from Weymouth in Dorset started an online petition on change.org to change the Road Traffic Act to force drivers to report collisions with cats. She has gathered almost 150,000 signatures. Gemma lost her 18-month-old cat, Bertie, in April.
“It was so out of character and we still don’t know what happened to him. It’s about getting closure,” said Gemma.
There is another campaign group: #CatsMatter. This was set up by Mandy Lowe and Tiya Ivy. They, too, have lost cats. They are calling for an extension to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in the UK to make it a crime punishable by a fine for failing to notify the authorities when a driver hits and kills a cat on the road. They also want to force councils to scan for microchips on dead cats that are collected from roads.
Currently the legal requirement in the UK is to report an accident involving specified animals which includes working animals such as horses and cattle. It also includes dogs.
Do Americans have an opinion on this other than keeping cats inside? The way I see it, it makes perfect sense to extend the law to include cats. In the context of road accidents there is little if no difference between dogs and cats so why does the difference exist?