Emergency Preparedness for Your Cats: Lessons Learned


Tornadoes are a rarity in my part of the United States, but occasionally, we get some pretty wild weather. This past Saturday, a strong cold front was coming our way. Ever since the freak derecho storm that moved through here in June and left us without power for 48 hours, I’ve learned to pay attention when the sky gets dark. I also know to give Allegra Storm Soother and Stress Stopper at the first signs of any storminess. She’s come a long way, but she’s still a bit afraid of storms and prefers to ride them out in her safe space: behind the shower curtain in our downstairs bathroom.

After giving her the remedies, I checked the Washington Post Capital Weathergang Twitter feed, the most reliable weather source in this area, for updates on the coming storm. I certainly didn’t expect to see a tornado warning, with my immediate area directly in its path, and the words “TAKE COVER IN INTERIOR ROOM NOW!” Let me note that the Post rarely uses caps in its Twitter feed, so I knew they meant business.

Allegra was already in the downstairs bathroom, which is probably the safest room in our home. It’s windowless, it’s small, and Allegra already feels safe in there. I quickly gathered up two cat carriers, a flashlight, my phone, and put them in the room. Then I ran upstairs to get Ruby, who, true to her fearless nature, was sitting by the living room window upstairs, enjoying the view of the wind lashing the trees, and the rain going sideways.

The girls thought huddling in the bathroom was a big adventure, as you can see in the photo above. Allegra was so intrigued with what was happening that she even came out from behind the shower curtain.

Thankfully, only fifteen minutes later, the storm had passed, and we were safe. I later learned that a tornado had touched down just a few miles from our house.

I posted the photo above on Facebook, and got a lot of comments about what a good cat mom I was for being so prepared. But as I was thinking about the experience, I realized that I had missed a few things that could have come in handy, if this had truly been an emergency. For starters, I didn’t have my car keys or purse in the bathroom with me. I also wasn’t wearing any shoes!

This experience brought home once again how important emergency preparedness is. Here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure you always have extra cat food on hand. If you feed raw, make sure you have some canned food on hand in case of an extended power outage.
  • Make sure you have enough water for your cats. It’s always a good idea to have some extra bottled water on hand.
  • Have carriers for each of your pets, and have them ready.
  • Seek out evacuation shelters that allow pets. Alternately, have a list of hotels in your area and outside your immediate area that will take cats.
  • If you have a “safe room” in your house, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep some supplies in that room at all times.
  • Have remedies such as Stress Stopper and Storm Soother on hand.

I learned my lessons the easy way that day. Hopefully, I’ll never have to implement any of these things, but it helps to know before an actual emergency what steps you would take if faced with the real thing.

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan for your cats?

20 Comments on Emergency Preparedness for Your Cats: Lessons Learned

  1. Julia Inman
    September 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm (4 years ago)

    Awesome thank you. With 7 cats its a bit more difficult with pet carriers as I have 2 large pet carriers big enough for 2 and a small dog cage big enough for 3. 1 handicapped adult son and a teenage daughter. But for future power outage ect I will have cans ready as I feed raw.

  2. Georgia
    September 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm (4 years ago)

    Forgot to say it’s funny what we forget- like your shoes! With our California earthquakes I try to keep a pair near the bed.

  3. Georgia
    September 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm (4 years ago)

    Great post to remind us to be prepared! Glad the storm passed quickly.

  4. Dawn
    December 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid, I’mlooking at your carrier, and I can’t remember the manufacurer who makes it. I need to get one for my girls. Where did you get it?

  5. Pam
    September 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm (8 years ago)

    Great post, Ingrid … very helpful.

    I didn’t see any mention of litter. I have to wonder how a person would handle transporting litter if they needed to evacuate. It’s so heavy and cumbersome. If one has a vehicle, then probably that handles it. We’re very dependent on having a vehicle to make evacuation possible.

    In my area, the potential danger is most likely earthquake. I wonder about how to deal with evacuation if a tree, or part of a building, fell on my vehicle, or something like that.

    I’d better think about this! I have my cat and 3 big dogs.

    • Ingrid
      September 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm (8 years ago)

      Good point about litter, Pam, and you’re absolutely right that we’re dependent on having a vehicle should we need to evacuate – both for the cats (and dogs) and supplies.

  6. Glogirly and Katie
    September 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm (8 years ago)

    This serves as an important reminder. We need to be more prepared here at casa de Glogirly. Although tornadoes are rare in the middle of a city, they still come very close and you just never know. We’re going to take some extra steps to make a readiness kit prepped and easy to grab.
    Thanks for the inspiration : )
    ~Glogirly & Katie

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm (8 years ago)

      My pleasure, Glogirly and Katy!

  7. Texas, a cat in New York
    September 12, 2012 at 8:51 am (8 years ago)

    Indeed, better learn the “easy” way than the hard way. Thanks!

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm (8 years ago)

      Always, Texas!

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks, Debbie. We’re very happy that it was just a drill on Saturday!

  8. Connie
    September 12, 2012 at 8:21 am (8 years ago)

    I once made a vet appointment for all eight of my cats and everyone thought I was crazy. But I wanted to know if I could get all of them out of the house at one time in a reasonable amount of time. It took about 20 – 25 minutes to get out all the carriers, catch, crate, and load all of them. I must say I was pretty impressed (considering Eli could barely be caught at the time) and so was my vet.

    Ever since I make it a point to do it yearly. I’ve been asked why I don’t split up their visits because trucking so many cats (now 7) is way more work then taking just two at a time, but I like the reminder that I CAN do it if I need to.

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm (8 years ago)

      I bow to you, Connie, for getting all seven to the vet at the same time, but you’re so right, it’s a good way to be sure that you could do it in an emergency as well.

  9. HollyAnne Dustin
    September 12, 2012 at 8:04 am (8 years ago)

    I need to start getting prepared for winter blizzards here. Ugh. It is the carrier thing that always gets me (though I’ve never actually had to evacuate). Nine cats ride in 2 medium dog sized carriers and 3 single cat carriers. I keep them all broken down except one single for vet visits or the like because they take up SO much room. I think they are the bottom of a pile in the garage right now, haven’t used them since I moved here a few years ago. I think about it a few times, but I’ve never gotten them out and at least put together out there. (At least now I have a van and they’d all fit in one trip somewhere.)

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm (8 years ago)

      Getting nine cats in carriers is a challenge for sure, HollyAnne! Hopefully, you’ll never have to evacuate, but it’s still good to have enough carriers for everyone.

  10. Daniela Caride
    September 12, 2012 at 7:47 am (8 years ago)

    Oh, Ingrid, I’m sorry you and your kitties had to go through this terrible ordeal. Do you know that you can build a Pet Emergency Plan at Taildom.com now? Our tutorial will help you answer all necessary questions, and then you can share it with your friends and , of course, use it when needed. Here’s a post about it: http://taildom.com/blog/dogs/finally-a-tool-to-get-you-ready-for-an-emergency/

    I invite you and your readers to do it and make sure your pets will be a chance of a good life during a crisis.

    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm (8 years ago)

      We’re just fine, Daniela. In hindsight, I can say that it was good to have this drill!


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