Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 7, 2023 by Crystal Uys

cat in pet carrier on a park bench

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?

The 8 Tips to Be Prepared For a Disaster With Your Cat

1. 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.

Business woman writing to do list in a cafe
Image Credit: Vladeep, Shutterstock

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Train your cats to go into the carrier

Carriers are vital in an emergency. 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.

Mom and son releasing gray cat from pet carrier
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5. 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. You may not be able to get back to your home as quickly as you thought.

6. 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.

7. 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.

Cat owner man talking to veterinarian
Image Credit: silverblackstock, Shutterstock

8. 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.

Featured Image Credit: Elena Efimova, Shutterstock

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13 Comments on Disaster Preparedness for Cats: 8 Expert Tips

  1. And speaking of hurricane preparedness. Here are more of my ideas:

  2. This is a great list. It’s hurricane season (and earthquake season, too, apparently), so everyone should be ready, just in case.

  3. Great that you are reminding us of what to do and to think what to do! I don’t think it is wise to live within 100 miles of a coastal area as the majority of Americans do.

    I would add have photographs of your cats with you at all times so that if something separates you you have photos of what they look like. (Whether in your wallet or in a jump drive though in emergencies SOME of the pics should be in print form since computers won’t necessarily be avialable.) Note their unusual markings or individual characteristics, maybe even write down their personality quirks and keep with you.

    Our vet at one time anyway offered a little laminated card that had the pets’ up-to-date vaccination info on it — size of a driver’s license & a smaller one for a keychain.

    And be sure your vet has pics of your cat in his/her files?

    • Carrying a photo of your cats is a great suggestion, Brenda. I think most of us have photos on our phones, but I never thought of how they might help in an emergency situation. I also like your suggestion of having your vet keep photos of your cats on file.

  4. I have foster cats plus several of my own. I asked the local Fire Dept. what is best to do in a fire situation. They said, open up all the windows and doors, so they can get out. This is what saved many cats when we had the Oakland Fire here.

    In an emergency like that, the cats hide, so the firefighters said many people couldn’t catch them to put them in carriers. Even though the cats have never been outside, they will at least have a chance to get out, and you should make sure they are all microchipped.

    After an emergency, people will leave food and water for pets that are hiding, plus try and trap them. If they are microchipped, they can get them back to you.

    Unfortunately, many cats were burned in the Oakland Fire, and came into shelters without collars. Many were never returned to their “parents” because microchipping wasn’t that available then. They were adopted out to new families, who probably thought they had perished.

    Oh, by the way, the firefighter said that although many depts. don’t have the special pet oxygen masks, they can pinch a regular one around the pet’s nose/mouth, or just use a tube. Good to know.

  5. We have always had disaster plan for our animals. We have agree I have my purse and Bob Kato. We have used 3 times here when a resident did something in their apartment.

  6. These are really great tips – that my human has been very lax about. Maybe now that she has a cat (me) that will be going places with her, she’ll be more organized because the line between disaster preparedness for cats and preparing a kitty for a journey is not that wide.

  7. Great list on what to think of in case of an emergency !
    I think we have everything covered here accept an emergency kit with food and litterbox.


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