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Cat welfare – staying in or out? Part II

Animal road traffic accident victims commonly occupy the time and energy of veterinary surgeons, particularly during emergency hours (Yeates and Yates, 2017). Many feline road traffic accident cases need diagnostic procedures, medical treatment and surgery (Rocklitz, 2004). For example, distal limb shearing can produce heavily contaminated wounds and the treatment may be intense, extensive and expensive (Corr, 2009). In some cases, emergency euthanasia may be indicated to avoid suffering (Yeates and Yates, 2017).

A recent paper published by Wilson et al. (2017) challenges current risk-based advice, their research suggests that rural, rather than urban, locations are associated with an increased likelihood of cat road traffic accidents (Yeates and Yates, 2017). Of 1,264 eligible cats studies, 3.9% had been involved in an road traffic accident by the age of 12 months of which 53.6% took place in the dark (Wilson et al., 2017). The study also revealed that 74.5% of accidents resulted in fatal injuries and a further 17% resulted in serious injuries requiring veterinary treatment (Wilson et al., 2017).

Overall, there is no ‘one size fits all’ recommendation (Yeates and Yates, 2017). Outdoor and indoor lifestyles each carry risks for cats and the right decision is the one where the benefits outweigh the risks in each particular case (Yeates and Yates, 2017).


Corr, S. (2009). Intensive, extensive, expensive. Management of distal limb shearing injuries in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 11, 747-757.

Rochlitz, I. (2004). Clinical study of cats injured and killed in road traffic accidents in Cambridgeshire. Journal of Small Animal Practice 45, 390-394.

Wilson, J. L. et al. (2017). Risk factors for road traffic accidents in cats up to 12 months that were registered between 2010 and 2013 with the UK pet cat cohort (‘Bristol Cats’). Veterinary Record doi: 10.1136/vr.103859.

Yeates, J. and Yates, D. (2017). Staying in or going out? The dilemma for cat welfare. Veterinary Record, Journal of the British Veterinary Association, 180, 8, 193-194.

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