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First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 11, 2018
First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats

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Unfortunately, many cats are hit by cars and run over. Both stray and domestic animals perish every year on the roads. Often they are blinded by a car's headlights and are stunned so they cannot escape. It is also all too common for cats to take refuge under a car to avoid the sun. They take a nap and don't wake up in time as the car pulls out.

Whatever the injuries produced after being run over by a vehicle, they can be severe. In most cases, cats that suffer road accidents require first aid and urgent veterinary care. In this AnimalWised article we talk about the most common injuries caused by being run over and how to deal with this situation. Stay with us and learn first aid for cats, focusing on road accidents and run over cats.

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Road accidents: How to react when a cat's been run over

If you find a cat that has been run over it is important to act calmly. If the cat is lying on the ground check its breathing and pulse. The following sections will describe how to deal with different injuries, so you must be able to identify them.

Often you may see a cat is hit by a car but has no visible injuries. Even if this is the case, it is essential that you take the cat as soon as possible to the vet. It is possible there are internal injuries which can be life threatening. It may even be the cat is unconscious, but has no visible injuries or external cuts. You may need to supply first aid to a cat hit by a car, as we shall see later, but it will still be essential for the cat to be treated by a specialist.

No serious or visible injuries:

If the blow has not been very strong it is very likely that the injured cat has taken shelter under cars nearby. It will be very scared and may not know how to deal with the accident. Even domestic cats might want to be alone.

If you are unsure what to do if a cat is hit by a car, first approach slowly and gently, getting closer without any sudden movements. When you reach the injured cat, treat it with extreme care. You can use a blanket or towel to wrap it. This will prevent scratches and will allow you to pick it up without too much pressure. If you own a cat carrier, use this to move them and take them to the vet.

Even if we do not observe external injuries, a run over cat may suffer internal damage that needs veterinary care. Do not give it any food or water, because in the veterinary center they will probably need to medicate it.

First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - Road accidents: How to react when a cat's been run over

Cat hit by car symptoms

There are different symptoms you need to look out for when a cat is run over. We will go into the specific ones in the sections below, but the important thing is to work out if they are still breathing. You can tell by the rise and fall of their chest, but it may be much slower than it should be.

When a cat has no visible injuries, they have internal hemorrhaging (bleeding - see more below). However, there are general symptoms to look out for. They include:

  • Blood coming from nose or mouth
  • Visibly broken bones
  • External cuts or lacerations
  • Missing teeth
  • Unconsciousness
  • Inability to get up/walk
First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - Cat hit by car symptoms

State of shock

After shock or trauma, such as being hit by a car or any other sort of road accident, the cat can enter a state of shock. Shock in cats is characterized by the following symptoms:

In extreme cases, shock in cats it can cause death. You must act quickly and with great delicacy. Caress the cat while you wrap it in a blanket to transfer it to the vet.

First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - State of shock

Unconsciousness

When the injured cat is unconscious you must pay attention to its breathing. If breathing is irregular and difficult, position the cat on its side with the head slightly tilted upward. This will facilitate its breathing. If you cannot hear the cat's breathing, take its pulse. The best place to take the pulse of a cat is its groin, where the hind legs are attached to the hip.

As the cat is unconscious, you will not know when it is experiencing pain. For this reason it is best to place it on a flat surface to move it. You can use a cardboard sheet and put a blanket or towel on it. Move it as little as possible and go immediately to the vet.

First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - Unconsciousness

Superficial wounds

If the run over cat's wounds are not deep and or bleeding excessively you can cure them, or at least disinfect and clean them before receiving veterinary treatment. Always use appropriate materials.

Clean the wound with saline solution to remove dirt and prevent infections. You can cut the surrounding hair with extreme care so that it does not get into the wound, especially if it is a long haired cat. Once clean use a gauze and disinfectant like diluted iodine such as povidone or Betadine to treat the wound.

You can disinfectant solutions for humans but always diluted in a ratio of 1:10, 1 part of iodine to 9 parts water.

Once seen to by the vet it is likely that they will recommend using a healing ointment that will accelerate healing time.

First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - Superficial wounds

Hemorrhages

If the wound is not deep you can clean it as you have seen in the previous point. If the cat has a hemorrhage with plenty of blood you must press on the wound with a gauze or towel and go immediately to the emergency vet.

Ideally, cover the wound with a sterile and elastic dressing. Tourniquets are not recommended as they stop circulation and may become dangerous. If the bleeding is on one leg you can consider a tourniquet, but do not push too hard and never keep it on for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Internal bleeding

After being run over, cats frequently suffer internal injuries. If you see that the cat has a bloody nose or mouth this means it has internal injuries. These are very serious injuries that need urgent medical attention. Do not cover the nose or mouth of the cat. Instead, wrap it with extreme care in the blanket and take it to the vet urgently.

If there is abdominal hemorrhaging then there are certain symptoms to look out for:

  • Distended abdomen (looks bloated)
  • Blood coming from mouth and/or nose
  • Can't get up/walk
  • Limping
  • Slow breathing
  • Drowsiness

It is possible that a cat looks like there is no abdominal hemorrhaging on the outside, yet there are internal problems which seriously affect their well-being. They may remain lethargic, have blood in their vomit or stool, have discoloration in their gums or other symptoms. This is why we again stress the importance of taking them to the vet.

First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats - Hemorrhages

Dislocations and fractures

When fractures or dislocations are produced in one of the extremities it can be difficult to pick up the cat. This kind of injury is very painful and cause a lot of stress, so the cat will be on the defensive. Talk calmly until you can get close. Manipulate it carefully so as to not hurt it and never try to cure a broken or dislocated limb or joint at home. It needs medical attention.

It is possible that the cat's ribs are broken; this could pierce a lung. It is difficult to determine this with the naked eye. If you suspect the rupture is on the left leg, for example, lay the cat down on the right side to move it, always very carefully.

These are our tips on first aid for cats in the case of road accidents and run over cats. If you have any experience on the matter, please tell us in the comments section. Don't forget to take a look at our other first aid articles - they may save your cat's life!

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to First Aid for Cats: Road Accidents and Run Over Cats, we recommend you visit our First aid category.

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10 comments
Rating:
Carlos G.
Found a kitten on the freeway. It was hit on the leg and can't poop
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Carlos,

As you have seen the first aid for cats article, the next thing you need to do is take this cat to a veterinarian.
Rating:
Grace
What do I do? HELP!!!
Administrador AnimalWised
If your cat has been run over, you need to take them to the veterinarian immediately.
stephanie
My daughters cat got run over by a taxi on Saturday night. When I got to the scene, he had been put on the pavement. His right eye had come out and he was bleeding heavily and I saw that he was not going to make it. I held his hand and told him I was sorry. I covered him with a jacket and then we buried him later. I hope I did the right thing.
chastity rosaro
My cat got hit by a car and was left to die. The jerk just left him there, who could be so heartless. What do I do to try and catch this person.
Administrador AnimalWised
We are so sorry for your loss, it is very cruel. It is possible the driver wasn't aware of the accident (cats are small animals which may not make much of a noise in a collision), but if there are any forms of ID on the cat, then they should have reported it.
Rating:
Ezekiel Elmer Dangcalan
Hi I'm from Philippines. My cat met a vehicular accident last night. My cat suffered internal bleeding. Blood came out from its nose and it appears weak and can't stand by itself. In morning as I check my cat , i saw he just poop in the place where he lies down (maybe because he can't move because of the injuries . I give him a water with salt thru drinking straw. What else shall I do? No money to see a vet.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Ezekiel,

We know that vets can be expensive, so they will need to see a veterinary medical professional. What you should do is see if you can find an animal shelter or adoption center which might be able to provide some medical care. They often help people in cats in dire situations, although there is no guarantee.
vwish
What are the main first aid to give cat before taking to vet .when the cat is unusual behaviour hit by a bike
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Vwish,

We answer your question in the article, but please let us know if there is anything specific we can help you with.
Rating:
Shaun Pearson
R.I.P. Tigger

On Friday 1st February 2019 Tigger was found dead at 8:30am on a pavement in Drummond Road, Skegness, UK
There was blood on the pavement, and blood in the road. Tigger looks to have been hit by a vehicle. We donot know if the driver stopped and moved him, or if Tigger crawled to the pavement by himself?

Since Tigger was still warm, we guessed the accident happened between 7:30 - 8:30am

He will be missed.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shaun,

We are very sorry for your loss!
Shaun Pearson
Re: R.I.P. Tigger

After some searching, a CCTV camera was located. The incident was captured on camera. Tigger was struck while walking (not running) across the road. The vehicle that struck, turned out to be a large white van travelling way over the 30mph speed limit, possibly 50, 60mph. The van driver made no effort to slow down or stop after what had happened. The time if the incident was 8am. A child on their way to school witnessed the event. It was child that approached some near by builders, who moved Tigger out of the road and onto the pavement. The CCTV helped in answering a number of unanswered questions.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shaun,

We are so sorry for your loss. We hope that having this answer will help bring you a little closure as not knowing can weigh heavy on us when we miss our pets. We hope anyone reading this who speeds, especially in built up areas, sees the consequences of such recklessness.
Farrukh
our cat sadly was run over by car causing broken lower jaw and broken food pipe. is food pipe repairable? what to do? please let me know
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Farrukh,

If your cat is run over by a car and has the injuries you describe, then you need to take them to a veterinary hospital immediately. This is a very serious situation which can result in the death of your cat. We cannot comment on any prognosis as they need the immediate assistance of a veterinary health professional.
Clarkson
My cat went missing found the cat out near our road,no blood but it appears its rear legs no longer work...Just got out of CDL school and have no $$ for vet..Dont know what to do..
Alice Tapiol Breeze (AnimalWised editor)
Hi there Clarkson, your cat can get better but does need urgent veterinary attention. I am sure a vet will be understanding of your economic situation and can find a way for your cat to get the attention he needs.
Apart from examining the severeness of the situation, your vet will probably prescribe painkillers.

At home, you should not let your cat go up stairs or jump, you should probably set a litter box where your cat doesn't have to jump into it (at floor level). You can put some newspaper in a cardboard box and put it on the floor with the box opening to one side so your cat can easily slide in.


Best of wishes and we hope your cat gets better, he will need a lot of care and attention. But remember you should take him to the vet no matter what!
Rating:
mandy
Fantastic article - we campaign for cats rights on our roads. Please support us by sporting a bumper car sticker :-)
https://www.catsmatter.org/product-page/think-cat-bumper-sticker

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