Young male cats far more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents

Young male cats either entire or neutered are far more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents compared to older cats. Specifically, for every one-year increase in age the odds of a domestic cat being involved in a road accident decreased by 16%. The odds for males being in a road traffic accident were 1.9 times the odds for females (both spayed and entire). And the odds of a purebred, pedigree cat being involved in a road traffic accident is 0.29 (about 30%) compared to random bred i.e. non-purebred or pedigree cats.

Kitten saved from road by heroic motorcyclist
Kitten saved from road by heroic motorcyclist. Young cats are far more likely to be killed on the road than older cats. Photo in public domain.
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This is the conclusion of a study first published on November 1, 2003 titled “Study of factors that may predispose domestic cats to road traffic accidents: part 1. It is published on the British Veterinary Association (BVA) website.

The researcher is Irene Rochlitz who is the editor of the excellent book which I often refer to, The Welfare of Cats published by Springer which is the 3rd in a series on animal welfare.

Rochlitz collected data from 6 veterinary practices in Cambridgeshire between March 2000 and February 2001 on 117 owned cats which had been examined by veterinarians. The control group for the research was created through questionnaires sent out to cat owners whose cats had been examined for reasons other than a road traffic accident. The data from these cats was checked to make sure that they were representative of the practice records. This population of cats who had not been involved in a road traffic accident was compared with the cats that had been involved in a road traffic accident in respect of age, sex, pedigree status and coat colour.

Coat colour appears to have been irrelevant while the other factors were highly relevant.

Officer assists injured cat in road
Officer assists injured cat in road. This is the USA. Photo in public domain.


The sensible conclusion is that young cats should be confined to the indoors and/or an enclosure or supervised when allowed out (leash) if they live in an area where there is a likelihood of a road traffic accident because their home is near busy roads or they live in an urban environment. Of course, this is dependent on the degree of concern of the cat’s owner as to the dangers of road traffic.

Secondly, the obvious reason why pedigree cats were much less likely to be involved in a road traffic accident is because they are far more often kept indoors for the simple reason that they are pedigree cats and therefore more valuable on a monetary basis which predisposes them to being stolen if allowed to roam outside the home.

Thirdly, it seems to me that as a domestic cat gains experience, they also gain experience of the dangers of road traffic and learn to avoid it. It seems that the younger cats are impetuous and lack experience with respect to the dangers of vehicles. Their behavior reminds me of subadult mountain lions who’ve just become independent and who are seeking their home range. They too act impetuously sometimes resulting in their premature deaths. Many pumas (Florida panthers) are killed on Florida’s roads.

Also, females are inherently more cautious than males which also helps to protect them from road traffic accidents. Females have smaller home ranges than males which means that they travel shorter distances which in turn reduces the risks. This male/female difference in respect of caution is apparent in the human world as well. I make that statement as objectively as I can and no way intend to denigrate either gender.


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