Study of factors that may predispose domestic cats to road traffic accidents: part 1

Characteristics of cats involved in road traffic accidents in Cambridgeshire, England

source: I Rochlitz
Veterinary Record vol 153, no 18, November 1 2003
starts p549, 5 pages long

Road accidents rank fourth among causes of death in cats in the UK. This study uses data from six veterinary practices in Cambridgeshire, England, to assess which cats are more prone to being involved in road accidents. There were 117 cats in the study, all of which had been seen following road accidents, and they were compared with cats allowed to go outside which had not ever been in traffic accidents. Younger cats were found to be more prone to road accidents, with cats being 16% less likely to be involved in an accident for each increase of a year in age. Males were 1.9 times more likely to be involved in accidents than females, regardless of whether they were neutered.

Entire males were overrepresented among cats that had suffered accidents, as were neutered males. Tomcats are sometimes said to be at greater risk of accidents because they travel over a wider range, but one study has found that this applies more to older tomcats, especially those over two-years-old, with tomcats younger than 18-months-old tending to stay within 50 metres of their homes. Cats involved in traffic accidents tend to be young, with 46% of them aged between seven months and two-years-old, so there may be some other aspect of maleness in cats, other than whether they are neutered, that predisposes them to accidents.

Non-pedigree cats were also more prone to being involved in accidents. This could be because owners supervise pedigree cats more. A previous study found that pedigree cats tend to spend more time near their owners, and owners tend to interact more with Persian, and Siamese cats than with non-pedigree cats, and that this was especially true for Siamese cats.

Black cats may be more at risk than lighter coloured cats, because drivers may not be able to see them as easily, but the evidence from this study is not conclusive. Cats that were black, or mainly black accounted for 44% of the cats that had been in accidents, compared with 35% of the control cats.