The True Cost of Not Taking an Injured Cat to the Vets

CatsMatter aims to raise awareness of all the issues surrounding cats on our roads, and we aim to expel any fears drivers have simply because we want to ensure that all incidents involving cats lead to the animal getting emergency veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons drivers will flee after hitting a cat is fear of being financially liable for any vet costs incurred due to the animal’s injuries. Sadly, money is often a determining factor in whether an animal receives the life-saving care it needs to survive a collision. Given that currently, 75% of cats involved in road traffic accidents survive, if they are abandoned at the scene, this could mean countless hours of waiting in pain to be found by someone who cares or even, dying slowly and painfully because nothing was done to help. No animal deserves to be left like this.

Will I Be Financially Liable for Vet Costs After Hitting a Cat

Many do fear the cost the veterinarian might impose on them, simply for being the only known person associated to the cat brought in, but rest assured, there is no legislation in the UK which states you must pay, or even contribute to that animal's care beyond dropping it at the vets. We recommend find your nearest vet here and save the details in your phone or glovebox so you have them at the ready – just in case.

After you have taking the animal to the vets, it’s also worth noting that in all likelihood that cat will be microchipped, so the owners can be found and also, insured, so the cat is financially covered for the injuries sustained in the accident. We have never heard of an owner refusing to pay whatever it takes to have the animal treated, so fear that there will be any question over this are often unfounded.

Cat Owners are Grateful for Your Fast Action

There are numerous cases where a driver hit a cat, but took it straight to the vets, and was sent flowers or thank you notes from the owner. Many may think it strange an owner 'thanks' the person who just injured, or possibly killed, their cat, but this is not at all uncommon. Cat owners understand that accidents can happen, and at any time. If a cat is involved in a road accident it is much more likely to be accepted as an accident if the driver does not flee the scene and shows compassion by seeking immediate help and trying to save the animal. If the cat’s owner knows everything was done to save the animal, it’s much easier for them to have closure and comfort knowing that they did not lay suffering, scared and alone… that they were comforted in their final moments or received the urgent care needed to save their lives and get them back home.

Who Pays the Veterinary Fees if you Hit a Stray Cat?

For ownerless cats, the RSPCA does have an agreement with the British Veterinary Association to help with cost. However, there are conditions to this. The member of the public must first contact the RSPCA, and receive authorisation before the animal is seen by a vet. You can find details of your local RSPCA here. There is an emergency 24hr hotline which can be found here.

If you've either hit, or have found, a suffering cat on the roadside, they need to see a veterinarian straight away. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as dialling 999 and waiting for help to arrive – you are potentially the difference between life and death for a cat and the cat, and even if the cat has no owners, the cat is suffering and counting on you to do the right thing.

We completely understand there is not always time to sit on phone, waiting for authorisation, so we do advise to try and get the cat to the vets as soon as possible yourself if you can. If you are worried about costs, don't! At the very least you can drop the cat off, explain you found it by the roadside, and leave the practice. Vets 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 stray – so again, you are not financially liable for the costs incurred.

Following Up

Chances are, if you chose to do the right thing and take the cat to the vets, you will now have an interest in knowing if your efforts managed to save the little soul. Maybe you do leave after dropping the cat off, but we bet you'll be itching to pop in or phone a little later on to check. Don't be worried they will chase you for costs, you have no legal obligation to pay. However, there are numerous options which could be looked in to. Veterinary practices all vary, and have their own policies, but the majority of them are in the profession for a reason - they care about animal welfare. For that reason alone, many will voluntarily treat the animal at a cost to the practice. All vets usually do have an emergency fund for instances such as these.

Other options could include a voluntary split cost between the vets, the finder and/or a local charity. This is not compulsory but if you feel you would like to contribute, the veterinary practice will always be grateful of that. To find your local rescue charities and shelters, to approach them to explain the situation and find out if they could also help, please see these pages.


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