As a pet owner emergencies can be hard to think about – but they can happen and without warning. Are you prepared? Even if you don’t live in a location susceptible to natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, fires, earthquakes, or tornados, you need an emergency plan for pet care should you have to evacuate. These may seem like extremes, but life constantly changes on the daily and you never know when something might take place that is beyond your control.
One of the most important aspects of pet preparedness is creating an emergency kit or to go-bag so your furry family member always has what they need. Here are some things to do and have that that are essential.
Create an evacuation plan
It’s better to be safe than sorry! Sometimes things happen that we can’t foresee taking place or without warning. It’s best to plan ahead and make proper arrangements for the care of your cats in the case of an evacuation or if disaster strikes and you can’t get home.
Make sure your cats get the care they need by planning now:
Find a trusted neighbour, friend or family member and give them a key to your home. Make sure this backup caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa). Show them where your pets like to be (and where they may hide if nervous) and where your disaster supplies are kept.
Get proper ID and a microchip implanted, that way if your feline friend is taken to a shelter or vet, they can be easily identified and reunited with you.
If you use a kennel or pet-daycare, find out what their emergency plan is. Talk to your local authorities to find out what organizations and resources are available in your area for cats during an emergency.
Ensure your cat is comfortable with their carrier. If an emergency occurs and they must be taken with you and transported in a car or must be left at a shelter, this process will be less stressful on them.
Make an Emergency Kit
Assemble a kit containing the essentials for your cat or cats to survive for a minimum of two weeks. This can be done with plastic containers or a large enough backpack to store and hold all items safely and securely.
Here are the supplies that you should have in a disaster kit for cats. Adjust the amounts, and items depending on the number of cats that you have.
Be sure to have this readily available and consider storing it next to their carrier for quick and easy access:
Water (enough bottled to last a few weeks)
Food (a combination of wet and dry)
Blanket or pillowcase
Leash and harness or collar
Favorite treats, toys, bedding, food & water dishes
Disposable litter trays and pooper-scooper
Hand sanitizer or a form of disinfectant
Including a feline first aid kit is also a good idea.
Check the expiration dates of all the items in your pet emergency kit before sealing it up. You can put a reminder on your calendar to check it every few months. This will help you ensure that you always have items that are ready to use if the worst happens. Even if you don’t ever get around to using or needing your emergency kit, be sure to rotate the food, water, and medications a handful of times a year to keep them fresh.
Make sure you have an envelope (ideally waterproof) that contains the following:
Your cat’s picture and description (age, sex, weight etc., license number, and microchip number/company (in case you get separated)
Veterinary records including vaccinations and any pertinent health information
Phone numbers for your regular veterinarian and a nearby 24-hour vet hospital
Two pet-friendly places to which you could evacuate (one nearby and one further away)
Contact information of a family member or neighbour in case you get separated or are not reachable
If possible, have your cat wear a collar and tags with up-to-date identification, regardless of if they are microchipped. In the case your cat cannot be identified through the system this ensures someone can contact you right away. Your pet’s ID tag should contain their name, your name/number, and any urgent medical needs.
While it is important to have your contact information on your pet’s tag, make sure to include information for someone outside of the area who would be willing to take care of your animals on a second tag.
Alert first responders
Save the life of your pets by notifying emergency first responders of your beloved companions inside the house by placing a Pet Rescue Emergency Sticker near your front and back entryways. This sticker will alert emergency responders of your cat inside your home and how many there are.
You can find these stickers at your local pet supply stores or online.
In place sheltering
There may come a time where evacuation is not a possibility for you, your family and cat. Plan ahead in case you’re stuck waiting out a storm or due to another crisis at home. The first and most important aspect is to identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Grab your family and felines, along with your emergency kit and supplies.
A few things to keep in mind if you are going to be hunkering down:
Close off unsafe nooks and smaller spaces where frightened cats may try to hide.
Choose areas in your home such as utility rooms, bathrooms for basements as a safe zone and make sure all toxic items are removed or stored at a safe height and distance away from you and your cats.
Be sure to have an extra supply of water, nonperishable food items for you and your cat, along with other needed supplies such as their carrier, medications, and other relevant emergency items.
Continue to follow your local news outlets online or listen to the radio for live updates. Do not come out until you know it is safe to do so.
Do you already have an emergency plan and to-go bag ready for your cat? Preparing for any and all types of emergencies will go a long way to ensure you and your furry feline are better equipped and better cared for in case something happens. The next time you’re in a jam or thinking of how to better prepare, follow these tips and best practices on how to keep your cat prepared for emergencies or disasters.
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