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Could my cat have been saved if I found her sooner?

87 replies

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 11:53

I am trying to get over the death of my cat who I think was hit by a car outside our house on Friday night.

We did not find her until 10am on Saturday morning despite going out searching about 9.30 on Friday night (we last saw her at 6pm Friday) and again at 7.30am on Saturday. She was lying in a gap between two bushes at the edge of a little park across the road from our house - I guess either someone had moved her off the road and put her there or she had crawled there.

What is bothering me greatly is whether if I had found her on Friday night at 9.30 and she had been run over, if taking her to a vet could have saved her. She had no visible injuries other than one slightly bleeding claw; her eyes were open and her tongue was poking out of the side of her mouth. I can only guess that she was hit - I can't think of another explanation. She would usually have been in at that time of night or have come back if called. And I was out calling her at 9.30: I am trying to persuade myself that if she was conscious then she would have answered me, and also if she was injured and could make it to the park, she could have made it to our house.

I don't know, I don't know if anyone can know really. Because I could see no visible injuries I don't know how she died. May seem like a silly question, but can a cat die from the impact alone of a collision without showing external injuries? I hate the thought that she was injured and couldn't move and died in the park in that freezing night (it was very cold that night) when we were only about 10 feet away inside our house. Or that she died in pain and cold and could have been saved if I had just shone a torch there when I was out looking for her in the evening. I must have walked past her several times.

I also deeply regret not trying harder to make her wear a collar with a phone number on it: if I knocked a cat down and it had a number on it I would call it to let the owner know. She was microchipped but that's no help unless she was in a vet's.

Sorry, a bit rambly. It's been a real shock and I feel responsible for her death. It's enough that she has died without feeling like it might have been preventable by me.

OP posts:
QueenofNightmares · 28/11/2012 12:04

Please don't blame yourself for not finding her earlier, it sounds like she died of internal injuries. There are a lot of ifs and buts in what happened and unfortuntly you'll never know what ould of happened to her had you found her earlier. She may well have died instantly when hit by the car especially if the full wheel passed over her body and the motorist having seen she didn't wear a collar moved her to the side in the hopes her owners would find her.

Don't blame yourself for the collar either these can be very dangerous for cats and a real choking/strangulation risk. You did best by having her chipped and if someone else had found her body hopefully they would of taken her to the nearest vets to have her scanned in the hopes of bringing peace to her owners.

Don't torture yourself with wondering at least you found her in the end and brought her home to a final resting place near you lots of cats disapeer with the owners never knowing what has happened to them. You obviously really loved her and thats what really counts.

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 12:18

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I had forgotten about the strangulation risk. She wore collars a couple of times in the 10 years we had her and we did worry about that. She was always trying to pull them off and did escape one (we did use the 'cat safe' ones) and was scratching at them.

I don't blame the driver I don't think. She was not very road sensible and I have seen countless cars having to brake for her when she has been wandering about in the road, despite our best efforts to send her back to the house (she used to follow us if we went out). So in some ways I guess it was just a matter of time, but I never thought it would really happen, and tended to believe she would just be lucky.

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Spirael · 28/11/2012 12:46

It might not have necessarily been a car, though the slightly bleeding claw makes it seem relatively likely. I've had to take three of my cats in over the years from suspected car incidents and the vets always check the front paws for damage.

Given that there weren't any other obvious injuries, it's likely that any damage was internal, in which case there would be very little, if anything, you or the vet could have done. Cats also can slip away very suddenly from blood clots brought on by trauma, again which there is no remedy for.

Cats will generally drag themselves home if at all possible and given that her eyes were open it sounds like she passed on quickly. It sounds likely she was stunned by the car and the momentum of running across the road took her as far as her resting place, where she quickly slipped away.

Please don't beat yourself up about it, you clearly loved her and it sounds like she had a wonderful life in your care. You were in no way responsible for her death and anything you could have done to prevent it would have harmed her quality of life. A collar wouldn't have helped her and she would have hated wearing it, so it wasn't wrong not to put one on her.

While some people may have just walked by, there are lots of cat people in the world and I suspect if any of them had seen or heard her they would have acted to either call the RSPCA, the non-emergency police line or the local vets, any of whom would have made the arrangements to scan for a microchip. Also, the local council always scan any animals they find for microchips.

A very unmumsnetty [hug]. I lost one of my cats suddenly last Friday too, if it's any consolation that you're not alone in your grief from losing a friend.

It's horrible to say goodbye, especially so suddenly, but you need to focus on the love and happiness you brought to one anothers lives.

CotedePablo · 28/11/2012 13:09

First of all Zoonose, I'm so sorry to hear about your lovely cat. Almost the same happened to one of mine, right down to her little tongue poking out the side of her mouth. In her case I do know that she died almost instantly when she was hit, as I had literally let her out the back door just a few minutes before, so I think you can take comfort from the fact that it is very unlikely yours suffered in any way. Please don't torture yourself, you couldn't have done more that you did. She was lucky to have a loving family, and to be allowed to do what cats do best, which is roaming outside, hunting, etc.

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 13:13

Thank you Spirael

I'm so sorry you lost a cat on Friday too. You are right about focusing on the life rather than the death.

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Zoonose · 28/11/2012 13:19

And thank you CotedePablo

I'm sorry to hear you lost a cat in the same way too. It is a comfort to think that she may have died instantly, thank you. It's the awful potential downside to their freedom. We are on a corner, have a reasonable sized garden and have a little park on one side which is across a quiet road, but she preferred to cross the busier road at the front and hunt around (I think) by the wheelie bins of the houses opposite.

Don't think we'll have another cat while we live here. It feels like too big a risk now.

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tabulahrasa · 28/11/2012 13:21

I hit a cat a couple of years ago, he ran off, I followed, knocked on a couple of doors till I found his and they took him straight to the vets... Between me hitting him and his owner driving off to the vet was less than ten minutes - we couldn't have been any faster, he didn't make it either. :(

So the chances are it would have made no difference.

cozietoesie · 28/11/2012 13:29

So sorry for your loss, Zoonose.

My own view is that you could have done little or nothing to save her. A car is a big thing to hit any animal and she would likely have had serious internal injuries. I'm also of the view that she probably didn't suffer much - if at all. The impact would likely have thrown her clear to the side of the road and even if she wasn't killed outright, shock would have set in so fast that she would probably have just fallen into unconsciousness right away.

I realize that's not much comfort at this point when you're still missing her so much.


Zoonose · 28/11/2012 13:36

tabulahrasa that must have been awful. Very kind of you to find his owner. And very sad also that nothing could be done. I wish it was easier to protect cats from cars, it happens so easily and with no-one at fault.

cozietoesie thank you, it is some comfort to hear reassurance that she may not have known much about it. It is the thought of her lying out dying slowly in the cold that gets to me, separately from the fact of her death.

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Lonecatwithkitten · 28/11/2012 13:57

You almost certainly could not have done anything. I am a vet not that long ago I saw a cat hit by a car I stopped went immediately to the cat not a mark on it, but already dead.
The ones that we are able to save are the ones with big obvious external injuries.

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 16:02

Lonecatwithkitten thank you for replying to this. That is very helpful to know, sad as it is. I couldn't understand why she seemed so unmarked, and hoped that it hadn't meant a long and distressing death because I hadn't found her.

Thanks to everyone who has posted, it has helped.

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ratbagcatbag · 28/11/2012 16:08

I found my neighbours cat on the main road one very early morning, was exactly as you describe no visible injuries, eyes wide open, from where she was she clipped and landed in the gutted and killed straight away. Luckily as it early she hadn't been hit again, so picked her up and took her home. Was devastating to do, but looked after her so much and wouldn't leave her. It honestly sounds like she was killed outright like my neighbours cat.
Agree the ones that make it are the ones that have big visible injuries, the ones that get glances to the head are often killed outright. :( big hugs.

Pizzaexpress2 · 28/11/2012 16:16

So sorry to hear about your loss.
The not knowing is the worst. We have had several cats over the years and lost 3 to car accidents. The most traumatic was when I was looking out of the bedroom window and saw my lovely little boy cat walk straight into the path of a car. It wasn't even going fast but he went round the wheel, it all seemed to happen in slow motion but he got to the side of the road. He was gone by the time I had screamed for my DH who went straight out. He was totally unmarked but had eyes open and tongue out just like yours. It was over in seconds so I am sure there was no time to suffer.
Big hugs. I know it's an awful feeling.

MimsyBorogroves · 28/11/2012 16:21

It sounds like she went near-instantly. Internal injuries are bloody awful because you never know what or why - but at the same time try to comfort yourself that you didn't find her in a more distressing state, and that she did pass on quickly.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I worry every time I let my cat out too.

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 16:22

Thanks ratcatbag and Pizzaexpress2 Sad

How horrible for both of you. I wonder if it is a very high proportion of cats whose lives end through being knocked down on the road.

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Zoonose · 28/11/2012 16:24

Thanks MimsyBorogroves

I used to worry about it all the time because she was always dithering about in the road but she did that for 10 years and never got hit, and it is not REALLY busy on that road, fairly constant but under 30mph and it's just after a mini roundabout - so I didn't think it would really actually happen.

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hellymelly · 28/11/2012 16:28

I once found a cat that had just been hit by a car. He had no visible injuries at all, I was uncertain at first if he was really dead (he was). The same with a dog I saw hit when I was a child. So yes it is possible to have no or few external signs but massive internal damage. I am so sorry, it is a horrible way to lose a pet. We don't have a cat as next door's was run over which hammered home how dangerous our road can be.

amillionyears · 28/11/2012 16:30

I understand a bit of what you are going through.
A pet of ours died, and I wondered whether I could have done things differently to have prevented it.
And because of that, it took longer to grieve than for other lost pets.

I think that it is natural to behave in this way.

I often think with humans too, that the grieving process can sometimes take longer because of the manner of death.

You loved your cat. You looked after the cat. She knew that you loved her.

Pooka · 28/11/2012 16:34

It might have made no difference at all unfortunately.

Cats can appear uninjured and then the shock is what gets them, along with internal injuries.

I witnessed a guy hitting a cat with his car (and then driving off, the arsehole). Cat belonged to my neighbour. I managed to catch it instantly, and my neighbour took her straight to the vet. Despite having been a very short lag between the injury and treatment, she still died unfortunately. Internal injuries too severe. :( she looked unharmed by the way, apart from a wide mouth like she was yawning/panting.

As other posters have said, eyes open and so on, it's entirely probable that she died if not nstantly, then very very quickly.

So sorry. :(

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 16:41

You are all very kind. What sad stories though. It does help to know others have been through the same.

We did give her a good life, I think, although we have regrets now - she got less attention after our DCs were born but it was just getting to the stage where they loved playing with her (they are 4 and 2 now). And I didn't feed her at set times in the day, just when her food needed topping up (and usually roughly morning and evening) or she asked specifically for wet food (she usually ate dry) so I wonder if that meant she went out foraging more than she might have done, and if that is what she had gone out to do.

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SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter · 28/11/2012 16:44

My cat was run over right outside the house about ten years ago. We got to her straight away, but there was nothing we could do, she died within a few minutes. As far as I could tell, she didn't suffer, she just lost consciousness and drifted off.

I know you feel awful about it, it's normal to ask 'what if' when bad things happen. Just remember, your little cat was loved and happy for all those years, and even though her life was cut short it was important because she meant so much to you.

cozietoesie · 28/11/2012 16:45

No, I really doubt that she went out because of what you fed her. When a cat is used to going outside, they just like going outside if the weather is halfway clement. Heck - half the time, they don't even eat what they catch; just hunt and play.

It wouldn't have been anything to do with your regime.

Zoonose · 28/11/2012 17:17

Thanks cozie and saskia

I hope you are right about the hunting and playing being just what they do. She was certainly an excellent mouser but didn't often eat them.

I'm sorry about your cat too saskia - it is horrible.

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ratbagcatbag · 28/11/2012 19:28

Don't think it's anything to do with feeding honestly, my terror has bowls full of the finest food available as she won't consider anything else and she has still bought in 14 live mice in the last month to torture. :) they eek in terror and I end up getting up at 2am to rescue them.

Horsemad · 28/11/2012 20:33

Sorry about your cat Zoonose it's such a horrible shock when something like this happens.

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