Drivers who run over a cat with their car will have to report the incident to police under a new law being proposed in Parliament.
Currently, cats are not covered by regulations which require drivers to report collisions with animals, but campaigners want a change in the law.
Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham introduced a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament after hearing from his local welfare group Animals Lost and Found Kent.
The Cats Bill calls for a change to the Road Traffic Act (1988) making it a legal requirement that any driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a cat must to stop and give information or report the accident to the police.
At the moment, the Act applies to dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules but not deer, cats, badgers or foxes.
The push for a change in the law is being supported by campaign group Cats Matter.
Co-founder Mandy Lowe said: “Our primary goal is to make cat deaths on the road reportable, so the cat gets the opportunity for vet treatment as soon as possible. It would save thousands of lives.”
She added that many cats that could have otherwise survived die “slowly and painfully” because no one stopped to help.
The campaigners also want councils to routinely scan animals found at the roadside for microchips so that owners can be notified if their pet is hit by a car.
So far 50 councils across the UK have committed to scanning cats and notifying owners.
There are an estimated eight million pet cats in the UK and around 230,000 cats are killed as the result of a road traffic accident every year, according to the most recent statistics available, published by the insurer PetPlan in 2006.