Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: October 31, 2022 by Crystal Uys

cat in the rain with umbrella

September is National Preparedness Month. We recently experienced an earthquake and a hurricane here in Virginia, all within one week, so emergency preparedness has definitely been on my mind. It also made me realize how woefully unprepared I really am. Irene was one thing: at least with a storm, you get a few days advance warning and can think about what you need to do while you’re not in panic mode. With the earthquake, I truly didn’t know how to react, nor would I have known what to do to keep Allegra and Ruby safe. Now granted, earthquakes are not a common occurrence in my part of the world (the last time Virginia had an earthquake was something like 100 years ago!), but it still provided incentive for me to focus on making a plan and being more prepared in the future.

A recent poll by the ASPCA found that 35% of dog and cat owners have no plan for dealing with their pets during a disaster that forces them to evacuate. 42% of dog or cat owners polled in the survey said they would not evacuate without their pets. But what was most shocking to me was that 39% said they would leave their pets behind. 19 % said they didn’t know what they would do.

I know none of us fall into the 39 percent. I could never leave Allegra and Ruby behind. But I also realized that I’m not doing enough to be ready. Disaster preparedness is kind of like having insurance: you do it, but you hope you never need to use it.

In a recent article on Catster, Dorian Wagner offered some helpful tips on hurricane preparedness for cats. These tips apply to any emergency situation, not just hurricanes:

1. Make sure you buy extra cat food.

2. Make sure you have enough water for your pets. Three days of water and food per person and animal is the rule of thumb.

3. Seek out evacuation shelters that allow pets.

4. Have carriers for each of your pets, and have them ready.

5. If you have a “safe room” in your house, make sure you have pet supplies ready in there as well.

6. Stay with them and make them feel safe!

7. If you have outside kitties you care for and there’s any way you can bring them in (just for the day), try and do that.

Thankfully, Irene had weakened considerably by the time she came through our area last week. I had stocked up on canned cat food before the storm. Allegra and Ruby eat raw food, and I was worried that if we lost power for any length of time, their food would spoil and I’d be left with nothing to eat for them. I had also stocked up on bottled water, for them, and for me. For the future, I’ll be making a list of pet-friendly hotels in my area, just in case.

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan that includes your cats?

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7 Comments on Are your cats prepared for an emergency?

  1. We’re ready! I always have a “go-bag” ready for my two cats and it doubles as a travel bag that I don’t have to pack! I would NEVER leave my cats behind. To me that’s just as bad as leaving a person behind. I bought extra water to have on hand in the unlikely event we lose water. I anticipate power outages here in Vermont, which they’ll be THRILLED about because it’ll mean they get kibble instead of wet food.
    I live in a studio apt so I always have easy access to the cats if need be but as the other Dana said, it’s smart to keep them where you know where they are!
    Julia, NYC just said that all their shelters will allow pets as long as they’re legal and have vaccine records.
    If worst came to worst, I’d hide them in a duffel bag and sneak into a hotel! Or, I’d sit in their lobby and refuse to leave.

  2. i’d also add to keep kitty in an area where s/he is accessible and you won’t be reaching under the couch pulling the cat by the hind legs as the house crumbles/burns/floats away.

  3. This is all good advice. You can never really be “too prepared” for a disaster. I just try to be as prepared as I can. One problem though, is that most of the evacuation shelters will not allow pets. To me, that is like telling parents to leave their baby at home. “You can be safe but your child can’t” — what parent would stand for such a thing? My cats’ lives are no less precious just because they aren’t human.

    • I agree, Julia – it’s the same as asking someone to leave a child behind. I thought we had learned our lesson from Katrina, but far too few shelters accept pets even now.

  4. Since we live in California we actually are prepared for both us and Montana.We have water stored as well as cat food. We also have “emergency earthquake/disaster” kits for my husband and myself and a separate “cat emergency earthquake/disaster” kit for Montana. His carrier is always in the house in case we need it in an emergency because we’d never leave without him. We could never leave our heart behind!!


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