How many times have you watched an unfolding disaster on the news and wondered how you would cope if it were to happen to you? Would you be ready to evacuate your home with your cats on short notice if you had to?
Make a plan
It is absolutely imperative to have an emergency plan for your family that includes your cats. By planning ahead, you will greatly increase your cats’ chances of surviving in the event of an emergency.
Prepare an emergency kit
Have an emergency kit ready for your cats. This kit should include your cat’s medications, enough food to last for a few days, water, a litter box and litter (disposable litter boxes are a great option for this), and a copy of your cat’s medical records.
Make sure your cat has identification
If your cat wears a collar, make sure he wears a tag with your current information. Have your cat microchipped – a microchip can be essential if your cat gets lost in a disaster. Make sure you keep your contact information current with the chip’s registry.
Train your cats to go into the carrier
Carriers are vital in an emergency, and it’s important to get your cats used to the carrier so that they can associate it with a positive experience. Ideally, your carrier should be kept out at all times so it’s something the cat is familiar with.
Never evacuate without your cat
Never leave your cat behind, even if you think you may only be gone for a short time. Emergencies, by their very nature, are unpredictable, and you may not be able to get back to your home as quickly as you thought.
Know where you will go in an emergency
Even though some emergency shelters will take pets, not all do. Know ahead of time where you would take your cat in an emergency. Check with boarding facilities and/or your veterinarian, and have a list of pet-friendly hotels ready. Make sure to communicate plans with all family members. It can be helpful to designate a meeting area outside the home ahead of time in case you become separated and cell phone communication is not available.
Have a back up plan if you’re not home during an emergency
Consider asking your neighbor or pet sitter to rescue your pet if an emergency should occur and you’re not able to get home.
Place emergency stickers on doors and windows
Have emergency stickers on doors and windows to alert emergency personnel that you have cats. You can get these stickers online, or from your local fire department.
We all hope that we never have to face an emergency, but if the worst should happen, being prepared can save precious time, and may even save your cat’s life.
Photo by Andrew Kuchling, Flickr Creative Commons