Campaigners are calling for the law to be changed to require drivers who knock down cats to report the incident, claiming that our furry feline friends deserve the same rights as dogs.
Tuesday (8 August) is International Cat Day, described by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which invented it, as a chance to celebrate the bond between humans and cats.
Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 drivers are required to stop and report an accident involving specified animals including horses, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dogs, but not cats or wild animals.
Contrary to popular myth, cats only have one life
But campaign group Cats Matter wants it to be made illegal for drivers to leave the scene without reporting that they have hit a cat.
The campaign is run by Mandy Lowe and Tiya Ivy from Worthing, but originally from Alaska. Both women began campaigning on the issue after the loss of cats, although in Ms Lowe’s case, she never found out what had happened to her cat, Snowy.
The issue has been the subject of a number of petitions on the change.org website, including one in 2015 that gained 115,000 signatures and one set up this year by Rebecca Leigh of Darwen, whose own cat, Tigger, was knocked down and left for dead.
Ms Leigh called for a ‘Tigger law' in memory of her cat.
The Department for Transport said the Government understands the distress that can be caused when cats are run over and explained that the distinction between animals arises from the status of some as working animals rather than as domestic pets.
Although there is no obligation to report all animal deaths on roads, the police advise drivers that, if possible, they should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals, such as cats, and advise them of the situation.
In addition, Rule 286 of The Highway Code also advises drivers to report any accident involving an animal to the police.