A new VetCompass paper published in JSAP explores mortality due to trauma in cats in England, with special focus on deaths from road traffic accidents (RTA). VetCompass at the RVC shares anonymised clinical data from general veterinary practices. These data are then used to investigate questions relating to companion animal health that aim to improve animal welfare.
Traumatic events (injuries caused by an unexpected external force) are a significant cause of injury and death in domestic cats. The study covered 2,738 cats under primary veterinary care that had died of any cause. The causes of death were assigned as either trauma-related or not, and the subset of trauma-related deaths that were due to RTA were identified.
The median age at death from all causes overall was 14.0 years. However, the median age at death from trauma-related causes was 3.0 years and for cats that died from RTA was 2·7 years.
The results showed that a substantially greater proportion of younger cats died through traumatic and road traffic accident-attributed causes relative to other causes of mortality. There was no apparent association of trauma- or road traffic accident-related death with urban environments or areas where there is increased human population density. The proportion of mortality due to either trauma or RTA did not differ between male and female cats nor between insured and uninsured cats. The results did not support the common belief that black cats are more likely to die from RTA than non-black cats.
These findings highlight that veterinary efforts which aim to reduce the likelihood of death through trauma, and specifically road traffic accidents, should focus especially on age-related options. Younger cats are reported to engage more in risky outdoor behaviours such as road crossing or interactions with unfamiliar cats with consequently reduced mortality risks.
McDonald, J.L., Cleasby, I.R., Brodbelt, D.C., Church, D.B. & O'Neill, D.G. (2017) Mortality due to trauma in cats attending veterinary practices in central and south-east England.
Journal of Small Animal Practice, DOI: 10.1111/jsap.12716, n/a-n/a.