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Editorial
Staying in or going out? the dilemma for cat welfare
  1. James Yeates, BVSc, BSc, DWEL, DipECAWBM, PhD, FRCVS and
  2. David Yates, BVSc, MRCVS
  1. RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS, UK; e-mail: james.yeates@rspca.org.uk

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ANIMAL road traffic accident (RTA) victims commonly occupy the time and energies of veterinary surgeons, particularly during emergency hours. Animal charities help by providing contributions towards the treatment of such animals in private practices, and providing direct treatment to injured animals brought in by their owners, passers-by or as referrals from other veterinary practices.

Many feline RTA cases need diagnostic procedures, medical treatment and surgery (Rochlitz 2004). For example, distal limb shearing can produce heavily contaminated wounds and the treatment may be intense, extensive and expensive (Corr 2009). In some cases, emergency euthanasia may be indicated to avoid suffering. In all cases, animal welfare should be the first priority; however, RTAs often occur in difficult contexts with limited resources and absent owners (including cats with out-of-date microchip details). Therefore, the more we can do to prevent RTAs from happening in the first place the better.

Owners often ask for veterinary advice regarding whether they should let their cats go outdoors. The answer is essentially a matter of risk management. Any advice given (like all veterinary advice) should be based on the identified risks and benefits and include all of the cat's welfare needs (that is, …

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