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! This includes cats who appear to be uninjured.
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 to have a pen handy, or if you are with someone have them be ready to note a number down, 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.
Some cats may be gravely injured and need stabilizing in order to buy crucial extra time to reach the vets. For more information on how to stabilise a cat who may be going into shock or is suffering from issues such as excessive external bleeding, see our roadside first aid guide 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, stray or wild.
Vets will attempt to find an owner through 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. In some cases, charities will step in or they will allow a stranger to offer payment.
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 receive 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 advice so far, calling your local
rescue could result in someone being available to assist. Do bear in mind that rescues tend to be run on a volunteer basis, and may not always 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 can find your nearest mobile veterinary service here although only a minority work out of hours.
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, but they tend to remain hidden and silent as they see themselves as vulnerable to predators in a compromised state. Never assume a cat who has fled the scene is OK. Further advice on how to locate a cat which has run off can be found here.
At a later date, you can design a poster on this link and then upload them to this site where they will print 50 of them and post to you completely free! Posting them through doors and/or popping them on lamposts could help an owner in their search in cases where an owner was untraceable for whatever reason.
IF THE CAT IS DECEASED
CHECK WITH NEIGHBOURS
'Out of hours' can be problematic, and it can be hard getting through to someone on phones. 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 may result in you finding the cats home, or a neighbour who knows the cat. 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.
At a later date, you can design a poster on this link and then upload them to this site where they will print 50 of them and post to you completely free! Posting them through doors and/or popping them on lamposts could help an owner in their search should you/vets/rescuers be unsuccessful in tracing them. In bad weather conditions, having them plastic coated will help preserve them.
You can contact your local council to collect the body. However, not all councils scan and/or return cats, so this option increases the risk of the owner never having closure.
One issue councils state they have is that members of the general public tend to intervene before they arrive on scene. We would hope those people have sent the body to a vet, or been successful in locating the owner, but sadly this is not always the case.
We ask you to be mindful of the fact they may never reach the cat, especially given we are considering out of hours here when few operate. It can take 48+ hours in some cases, such as reports taken over weekends. For those still roadside hours/days later, the cats state could result in them finding 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, have the courtesy of notifying the owner, as well as be available for collection as soon as possible.
Another option would be to secure the cat in a bag or inside a box. Please then place them 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, you can take the box there where they will scan the cat for a microchip and locate an owner.
If you have no means of transport, it is worth checking 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.
You can also find your local scan angel here
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