What to do if you Hit a Cat Outside of Veterinary Practice Operating Hours
OUT OF HOURS HELP
IF THE CAT IS ALIVE
The cat will need veterinary assistance straight away if they are still alive!
It is possible the cat is unconscious appearing dead - look at their chest to see if they are breathing. Also, their eyes tend to remain open if deceased with large pupils. Shine a light briefly in their eyes - if the pupils react, they are unconscious but still alive.
There are out of hours services dotted around the UK. You can find your nearest vets here. Try and have a pen handy when calling as some practices will give you an alternative number to call for out of hours emergencies on their voicemail. Another option is to type in "Emergency vet" followed by your location here - this will bring up all 24hr practices in your area.
The cat will need to be handled with care so as not to cause further injury, and you may also need to help stabilise them. See our crucial roadside first aid guidance here!
It’s important to remember that you are in no way liable for any financial costs for taking the cat in so never let the fear of being financially liable stop you from helping an animal in need.
Once you drop the cat off at a veterinary practice, they then have a professional obligation under the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to all animals, whether owned or not. They will attempt to find an owner via a microchip, who can authorise any further treatment required. Should an owner not be located, it is at the vets discretion if they treat beyond pain relief. Many will use an emergency fund and re home them at a later date.
The RSPCA will pay £50 (+ VAT) towards emergency care for wild animals, and domestic pets, including cats hit by cars. However, the condition is they are called BEFORE the animal reaches a veterinary practice. Once at the practice, the vet will recieve authorisation from the RSCPA via a purchase order number. Their 24-hour advice line is 0300 1234 999
If you do not have the means to transport them yourself, or are having difficulties with the above advice, calling your local
rescue, such as Cats Protection, could result in someone being available to assist. Do bare in mind that rescues tend to be ran on a volunteer basis, and may not be available at weekends. Hours will vary from rescue to rescue across the UK. For this reason, we advise trying any mobile numbers linked to the above links first.
You might find that the cat runs away. This is common, as they will use their last bit of strength to get as far away from the danger as possible. Usually they will not have gone too far, further advise on how to locate a cat which has run off can be found here.
IF THE CAT IS DECEASED
CHECK WITH NEIGHBOURS
'Out of hours' can be problematic, and it can be hard getting through to someone who can help. The most effective way of finding an owner is to knock on surrounding doors as, chances are, the cat lives reasonably local. Just by knocking on a handful of adjacent houses, one of them may recognise the cat, or of course you may find the cat lives in that household. This would be the fastest way to locate an owner, and inform them what has happened. We assure you they will be grateful for your efforts.
We work with councils around the UK, but an issue councils would state they have is the general public tend to intervene before they arrive, meaning reported cats are gone by the time they arrive. We would hope those people have sent the body to a vets, or been successful in locating the owner. Sadly, this is not always the case. You can report cats by the roadside to your local council, who can be found here.
However, we ask you be mindful of the fact they may never get to the cat, especially given we are considering out of hours here. Council's will come to collect them but it can take 48+ hours in some cases. By which time, the cat has either been removed by someone else, or tragically the cat is in such an unrecognisable state, they may find it hard to locate a microchip. If you are adamant your choice is the council, please double check with them they will scan the body, and have the courtesy of notifying the owner so as they have closure. Even councils who say they scan, don't necessarily always do.
Another option would be to secure the cat in a bag inside a box. Please then place in a secure garage/outhouse to ensure no wildlife can get to them, and of course in a location where the box cannot be mistaken for general rubbish and be disposed of by another person. Once the local vets open again, it is advisable to take the box there where they will scan the cat, and locate an owner where possible.
If you have no means of transport, it is worth trying to check if any staff are available at your local rescue , or scanning group such as Harvey's Army or Missing Cats Scotland, to come out and scan and potentially help you remove the body respectfully.
Also, you can find your local scan angel here but be advised, scan angels are volunteers who scan animals only.
It is advised to also upload the cats details and, where appropriate, a photo on social media lost/found groups, along with websites such as PetsReunited, PetsLocated, Animal Search UK and UK pet register