What to do if you Hit a Cat Outside of Veterinary Practice Operating Hours
Sadly, we hear all too often how people come across a cat in the road, and dispose of them themselves. There doesn't appear to be anything sinister in their actions, we believe it simply comes down to people not being aware, and genuinely don't know what to do.
There is also the issue of confusion around what to do 'out of hours' when vets are closed. It would be completely reasonable for people to panic if they hit/find a cat at an awkward hour but that would certainly NOT be an excuse to leave the cat. There are options available, but the issue tends to be, they are not common knowledge.
This is why we hope to raise awareness of this issue, and offer some helpful tips on the much preferred way of handling things....
IF THE CAT IS ALIVE
The cat will need veterinary assistance straight away. There are out of hours services dotted around the UK. You can find your nearest vets here or your nearest PDSA hospital here. Try and have a pen handy when calling local numbers as some will give you an alternative number to call if out of hours emergency contact on their voicemail.
It’s important to remember that you are in no way liable for any financial costs to taking the cat in.
You might find that the cat runs away. This is deemed normal, 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 far, further advise on this can be found here.
If you do not have the means to transport them yourself, or are having difficulties with the above advice, calling your local RSPCA (0300 1234 999 in England / 0300 999 999 in Scotland) would be the best option as they can send an officer to you. If you’re in Northern Ireland, the same applies with the USPCA on 028 3025 1000.
Alternatively, there are charities that can be contacted as well, such as Cats Protection. https://www.cats.org.uk/find-us They can also help to advise you further or even assist by helping get them to the vets.
Lastly, there are groups of volunteers working across the UK that help in these situations. You can find out more about them here or call 07977668800 to find out if there are any animal first aiders available near your location.
IF THE CAT IS DECEASED
Firstly, it could be most useful to knock on surrounding doors, 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 was to locate an owner, and inform them what has happened. We assure you they will be grateful for your efforts.
As our supporters know, we constantly battle councils around the UK, but an issue councils would state they have is the general public tend to intervene - so reported cats are gone when 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 case. 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, and of course the owners may see their loved one in such a state at some point which is horrendously heart breaking to deal with. If you are adamant your choice is the council, please double check with them they will scan the body, and have the curtesy of notifying the owner so as they have closure.
The more advisable 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.
The numbers above for the RSPCA, SSPCA, USPCA and Cats Protection are worth trying to check if any staff are available in your area to come out and scan, and where possible, help you remove the body respectfully. Other fantastic organisations who will come to can the animal for you out of hours can be found below. Please check if they have staff available in your area at that time:
Please never dispose of a cat in your bin, or bury them. The owner will never know you have done this, and will spend a lifetime searching for their beloved pet.