Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flash floods. These are just a few of the natural disasters that can alter your life and that of your pet. You may not be able to prevent any of these disasters from occurring, but you can be prepared to deal with them if they do occur. You need to have a plan for caring for your cat during the emergency as well as caring for yourself and the rest of your family.
Getting your cat out of and away from your home safely will likely be your first order of business. To do this, you’ll need a carrier for your cat. The carrier should be located in a place where it is readily accessible and easy to find. In addition, you’ll need to be able to get your cat into the carrier, preferably without a struggle or fight.
A little bit of advance preparation can go a long ways towards making your cat feel more comfortable in his carrier and making it easier for you to place him in the carrier when necessary. To get your cat used to the carrier, leave it out with the door open so that your cat can enter and exit at will. Place a bed, towel or blanket in the carrier to make it more comfortable for your cat to rest inside. Try placing a small amount of catnip, some food, or a few toys in the carrier to entice your cat to enter. For more information about training your cat to a carrier, see this CATalyst Council video, Cats and Carriers: Friends Not Foes.
It’s a good idea to have an emergency kit packed and ready to go in case you need to leave your home in a hurry. In the emergency kit, include a copy of your cat’s medical records, a supply of any medication your cat is currently receiving, a few cans of food and some bottled water, food dishes and water bowls, emergency phone numbers, and a first aid kit.
Be sure your cat has identification. Ideally, an identification tag on your cat’s collar and a microchip will both be used as a means of identification for your cat. Be sure to include a phone number on the identification tag where you can be reached at all times, such as a mobile phone number.
Have a destination that is cat-friendly planned in advance. Check out the hotels and motels in your area to find out whether they are cat-friendly. Locate the boarding facilities that are able to keep cats. Make plans with friends and family members that may be able to house you and/or your cats in the event of an emergency. Keep these telephone numbers and addresses handy. It may be wise to store them in your emergency kit.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to take advantage of your emergency plan. However, having a plan in place and ready to implement can give you peace of mind and save you a lot of grief and hassle in a real emergency.
Remember, if you need to evacuate your home, even if you believe the evacuation will only be for a short time, never leave your cat behind. Plan in advance to keep all members of your household safe, including your cat.
Dr. Lorie Huston