It is an unfortunate fact that cats are often involved in road accidents, especially in urban areas. It is not just the road that is dangerous: cat owners’ driveways are potentially highly dangerous places.
Cats are very independent animals and, on the whole, they manage to retain a combination of freedom and reliance on their owners of which many animals would be envious. But cats don’t have nine lives and, faced with a moving car, they usually have only the one, which may be dramatically and suddenly cut a lot shorter than intended.
While a mother cat will obviously teach her kitten a great deal about a cat’s life, this does not extend to the dangers of traffic, which are really beyond her realm of knowledge and experience. Indeed, cars are totally alien and foreign creatures to a cat in an alarmingly modern world.
There is remarkably little you can do to instill road sense into your cat and to teach it that traffic is lethal, other than hope that it is intelligent and observant enough to notice the danger. A cat has tolearn the hard way by surviving a near miss, which should succeed in instilling a lifelong respect for cars. The only real guarantee that your cat will not have an accident is either to keep her confined in your home or garden at all times, or only allow to her to exercise when she is on a lead.
Under British law, anyone who is involved in a road accident with a dog is obliged to report it to the police. This is not so in the case of a cat. But if a cat is injured in an accident and is not given first aid, a person might be prosecuted for cruelty.
In urban areas, injuries to cats resulting from road accidents are surprisingly common, and a cat must be handled very carefully after it has been hit by a vehicle, as it is likely to be in a state of shock and the extent of injury is not likely to be known until a veterinary examination is given. Take the cat to the vet, using a blanket as a stretcher.
A ruptured diaphragm is a very common injury when a cat is involved in a road accident, and this often requires surgery. Pelvic injuries and fractured limbs are also common and X-rays may be needed to determine their full extent.
A cat that lives near a lot of fast, noisy traffic may be more likely to realise that cars are dangerous than one that lives in a quiet street, where a car can come as a sudden surprise.
Q. Is there anything I can do to teach my cat that the road is a dangerous place, and to be avoided?
Try squirting water at your cat when she gets near to the road. This is only likely to work if you start her training early.
One lesson that you could try is to entice a young cat under the car when it is parked in the drive; if you then start the engine suddenly, this will show the cat just how unpleasant this machine is.