hurricane

Are your cats prepared for an emergency?

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.Continue Reading

Allegra’s World: Earthquake!

It sure has been an exciting couple of weeks here since I last wrote. Earthquakes, hurricanes, my birthday, a Pettie win – I don’t even know where to start!

Last Tuesday afternoon, we were all just going about our business. For Ruby and me, that meant napping. For Mom, it meant doing some work on the computer. All of a sudden, this weird noise woke me from my nap. It wasn’t like anything I had ever heard before. Being the smart cat that I am, I immediately ran to my safe place behind the shower curtain in the downstairs bathroom. The noise didn’t stop, it only got louder. And then, the walls started shaking, and the ground under me was moving, too. It was really really scary. Mom was upstairs, and I could hear her crying out. I think she was really scared, too. Normally, when I get scared, I don’t come out of my safe place for a while, but I was so worried about Mom, I ran upstairs as soon as the house stopped shaking. I could tell she was pretty upset, she picked me up and hugged me and she was shaking. Ruby, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind that things got all wobbly. She looked at me and Mom like we had lost our minds. I think she was more curious than anything else.

As if that wasn’t enough change from our usual routine (I like our routine! I don’t like change!), Mom left the house very early one morning, and didn’t come back for a very long time. At first, I thought she’d actually gone away to sleep somewhere else, like she’d done once or twice before. I got really suspicious when Ronnie, our cat sitter, showed up to feed us dinner. We love Ronnie, but seeing her usually means Mom won’t be back for a while, and I don’t like that at all. But thankfully, Mom came home at night, even though it was really late. It was so late that she didn’t even play with us before she went to bed! She said she was going to something called BlogPaws, and that it was important for our blog that she be there. I don’t like it when Mom is not home, but if her being gone is good for our blog, I guess I can live with it.

Then on Saturday, things got really weird. It was my birthday. Mom said she’d be gone all day again, so Ruby and I were going to party while Mom was gone! Unfortunately, the weather turned really bad really fast. Some lady named Irene was responsible for a lot of heavy rain and wind, and I’m really scared of the sound of heavy rain. So instead of celebrating my birthday, I spent most of it in my safe place in the downstairs shower. Mom came home earlier that day than she had been the previous two days, and that made me feel a little better. She came and checked on me throughout the evening and even in the middle of the night to make sure I was okay. I love that she did that. I was trying to be brave, but every time I tried to come out of the bathroom, it was just too scary. It finally stopped raining Sunday morning, and life was back to normal for us. Mom also didn’t go away again that morning, which made me really really happy.

The best thing that happened all week, even better than my birthday, was that our blog won a Pettie for Best Pet Blog! Ruby and I worked really hard to get people to vote for us, and we’re so excited that all that hard work paid off. Thank you to all of you who voted for our blog. We’re so happy and proud!

After all this excitement, I’m ready for a couple of weeks of peace and quiet and nice weather. And lots of naps.

 

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pet: 8 Things I Learned from 8 State Hurricane Kate

Guest Post by Jenny Pavlovic

8 State Hurricane Kate, an old Australian Cattle Dog, was rescued in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I met her at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, where rescued animals were taken for care and shelter, almost three weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Her paperwork said that she was rescued from a rooftop nine days after Katrina, with no known ID or address. She was lost, down for the count, and quickly running out of options, so I decided to foster her. When we had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita, I drove 1,200 miles home to Minnesota with Kate in the back seat. We traveled through eight states, which is how she got her name. I listed her on Petfinder and went to great lengths to find out where she came from. I even posted this “Do You Know This Dog?” video on YouTube.  Yet now, almost 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, I still don’t know what her life was like before August 29th, 2005. Somebody must still wonder what became of her.

Kate was a dog, but her story holds valuable lessons for cats and other animals as well.  All that I learned from my journey with Kate inspired me to write the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, to keep all of my dogs’ information in one place, for daily use, travel, and emergencies. This book includes important information from Noah’s Wish, a group dedicated to taking care of animals in disasters.  The following tips can help keep you and your pets safer and happier.

8 Things I Learned from 8 State Kate

1. Microchip your pet. We learned after Katrina how easily lost pets can lose their collars and ID tags. A microchip implanted under the pet’s skin is the only sure way to have permanent ID and to verify ownership. A microchip is a small electronic chip with a unique ID number, in a capsule about the size of a grain of rice. Once implanted, the chip is read by a hand-held scanner and the microchip company is notified of the ID number. You need to register your contact information with the microchip company so they can use the ID number to reach you. A microchip will only reunite you with your pet if the company knows how to reach you. You may also register the microchip and your information at http://www.petlink.net/, a 24-7 registry and recovery service. Even if your pet never leaves the house, I recommend a microchip. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or even a surprise bolt out the door can separate you. A cat that carries no other ID is especially vulnerable without a microchip. Some communities now offer single-fee lifetime licensing for pets that are microchipped. 

2. Keep good pet records, including a current photo of you with your pet (to verify ownership) and photos of your pet’s unique identifying characteristics (markings, scars, etc.). Store your pet’s vet, food and medication records in one place (like the Not Without My Dog book). Include information like the pet’s daily routine, words the pet knows, and other tips that would be useful to someone taking care of your pet in an emergency situation. Make sure a designated family member, friend or neighbor knows where your pet’s information is stored, in case something happens to you. 

3. Make a disaster plan for your family and pets. Be aware of the most likely disasters in your area: floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical spills, etc. Be prepared to survive without outside assistance if you must stay in your home during a natural disaster. Prepare a disaster kit to meet the basic needs of your family and pets for three days or more. Store it in waterproof containers that are easily accessible. Know the local evacuation routes and where you will take your pets if you must leave your home. Do not leave your pets behind. Know how you will transport them and where you will go. Have plan A, B, and C destinations (emergency shelters for people most often do not allow pets). http://www.petswelcome.com/, and http://www.pet-friendly-hotels.net/ may provide helpful information, but remember that hotels may fill quickly in a disaster situation. Does your family, including pets, fit in one vehicle? If not, how will you transport everyone to safety? Do you have carriers, leashes, and harnesses for all of your pets? 

4. Have a family communication plan in case a disaster occurs while you’re separated at work and school. Know where your family will meet if you can’t reach each other by phone. If all family members are away from home during the day, identify a neighbor or petsitter who will get to your pets quickly if they need help. It’s better to ask for help now than to be without a plan. 

5. Make sure your pets are properly vaccinated and treated for fleas and ticks, and on heartworm preventative. Healthy pets are better prepared to survive anything, including possible displacement, and housing with other animals. Accepted vaccination protocols are changing and some over-the-counter flea and tick treatments are not approved by veterinarians. Do your own research and decide what is best for your pet. 

6. Train and socialize your pets. A positively trained pet will be more comfortable and less likely to get lost. Socialize dogs and cats so they’ll be confident (not fearful) in different situations. Make sure your pets are comfortable riding in their carriers in the car and know how to walk on a leash/harness. Teach your pets to wait before jumping out of the car (after a pause, give them a treat). You may think that you can’t train a cat. But I used to have a cat that came when I called “Come get a fishy treat!” because I always produced a “fishy treat” when she arrived (ok, maybe she was training me!). This trick can help you find a pet that’s hiding under a foundation or lost in the neighborhood. 

7. Tune in to your pets. They’re tuned in to you. Give them opportunities to do what they were bred to do. Help them relax and be confident. Appreciate them for who they are. The more connected you are to your pets, the better you will weather anything together. 

8. Be resilient. An old girl who has lost everything can recover with dignity and grace, and be happy. Kate taught me this too.  

Jenny Pavlovic is the author of the award-winning 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and the new Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book. There just may be a Not Without My Cat Resource & Record Book in her future.  You can learn more about Jenny on her website or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.   (Photo credit:  LS Originals of Fridley, Minnesota)

Read my review of 8 State Hurricane Kate here.