Published: 01 Nov 2018 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:45:03

Being young, male and crossbred increases a cat’s chances of being hit by a car, according to the findings of a new paper published today.

The research also indicates that cats are most likely to be involved in a collision during autumn.

Road traffic accidents involving cats are very common and tend to result in the need for emergency veterinary treatment. Until now there has been limited information about the risks, but a new study by the VetCompass programme at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), in partnership with Vets Now, a nationwide emergency out-of-hours provider, has found the following:

  • Younger cats, aged six months to six years, are at the greatest risk of road traffic accidents.
  • Male cats are 1.3 times more at risk of road traffic accidents than female cats.
  • Crossbred cats are 1.9 times more at risk of road traffic accidents compared to purebred cats.
  • Cats are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident in the autumn. However, they are less at risk in winter as compared to spring.
  • Those cats that present with abdominal or spinal injuries are more likely to die, as are those that present with an increasing count of injuries.

The findings came from analysis of the 1,407 cat road traffic accident cases that attended Vets Now clinics across the UK between December 2011 and February 2014.

The road traffic accident cases were identified from 22,586 cat patients that were treated during the studied time period. This shows the massive scale of the problem:  4.2% of the overall number of cats treated at emergency veterinary clinics are there as a result of being hit by vehicles.

RVC’s VetCompass™ project analyses anonymised veterinary clinical records from over 1,000 UK vet clinics to enhance understanding and improve the health and welfare of companion animals.

RVC veterinary epidemiologist and VetCompass researcher Dr Dan O’Neill said: “One of the scariest times for any cat-owner is when they first start to let their cat go outside unattended. Owners of younger, and especially male, cats need to be especially vigilant. These results help owners to understand the true risks and therefore assist these owners to make the best decisions about if and how they let their cats go outside.”

Dr Amanda Boag, Clinical Director of Vets Now, said: “We are very proud to have worked with VetCompass™ to ensure this important information about risks to our pet cats is made available to vets and the public.  Working with our partners such as the RVC, we are committed to ensuring our large clinical database is used to help advance veterinary knowledge and understanding of emergency and critical care practice.”

The full paper entitled ‘Epidemiology of Road Traffic Accidents in Cats attending emergency-care practices in the UK ‘ is published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice.

Notes to Editors

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About the Royal Veterinary College

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.
  • The RVC ranked as the top vet school in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science unit of the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with 55% of academics producing world-class and internationally excellent research.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

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