Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Disasters can happen without warning and emergencies come in many forms: extreme weather, fires, earthquakes, floods and even war. While we may have an emergency response plan prepared for our family members, it is also important to have the same for our pets.
There is power in being prepared. Many pet owners are unsure of what to do if they’re faced with such a situation. In celebration of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, we have listed three steps you can take to keep your cats safe during and after a disaster or emergency:
Having a plan in place for you and your cat will reduce difficulty and stress the moment you need to decide during an emergency. Here are some things to include in your plan:
- Plan where you and your cat will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Some disaster evacuation centers do not accept pets and other animals, so you need to know a safe place, shelter, or out-of-town relatives/friends where you and your cat can stay.
- Develop a buddy system. In case you are not home during an emergency, make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your cat(s) if you are unable to do so. It could be your neighbor, friends, relatives, or anyone you know and trust.
- Make a list of contact information of veterinarians and hospitals near your area. Locate an animal hospital or a veterinarian in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter and add their contact information to your emergency kit.
Build an Emergency Kit for Your Cat
Just like what you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think about the basics for your cat’s survival. Review your kits from time to time to ensure that its contents, especially food and medicines, are still good to use and consume.
Here are some items you may want to include in your disaster/emergency kit:
- Food, Water and Medicine. At least 2-weeks supply of food and water. Keep an extra supply of the medicine your cat takes on a regular basis.
- First Aid Kit. Discuss with your veterinarian and ask what is the most appropriate for your cat’s emergency medical needs.
- Collar with ID tag, Harness or Leash. You can include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag. Make sure to have copies of your cat’s registration information and other relevant documents in a waterproof container.
- Traveling Bag, Crate or Carrier. Have a crate that comfortably fits your cat. Write your cat’s name and your contact information and make it visible outside of the bag, crate or carrier in case you become separated from your cat.
- Grooming Items. Cat shampoo, conditioner, and other items, in case your fur baby needs some cleaning up.
- Sanitation Needs. Include cat litter and litter box, paper towels, trash bags and disinfectants for your cat’s sanitation needs.
- A Photo of You and Your Cat Together. If you become separated from your cat during an emergency, a picture of you and your fur baby together will help you prove ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your cat.
- Familiar items. Put your cat’s favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce their stress.
Most of the things that you do to prepare for the unexpected are the same regardless of the type of disaster or emergency. However, it is also important to know the current situation and condition in your area. Here are some ways you can stay informed:
- Know what disaster or emergency is likely to affect your region, as well as emergency and disaster plans that have been established by your local government.
- Pay attention to wireless emergency alerts for local alerts and warnings sent by local public safety officials.
- Download necessary apps that will help you track the weather and read or hear the news.
- Always bring your cat indoors at the first sign or warning of a disaster or emergency.
After an emergency or disaster, our cat’s behavior may change dramatically. Cats can become lost and confused due to changes in landmarks and familiar scents. Do not allow your cats to roam loose because they can become disoriented and get lost. Monitor them closely and help them in their transition by being patient with them, as the stress of an emergency and evacuation may cause them behavioral problems.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
While none of us wants to plan for the worst, it is still best to have all the things that you need, and not need, than to need, and not have. You may never use your own or your cat’s emergency kit, but if you ever need one, you and your cat will be better off with it.
So, go and plan ahead, seek help in building your emergency kit and most importantly, be calm and stay informed before, during and after a disaster or emergency.