Cats Should Never Be Overlooked During Disasters

During natural disasters, such as the latest hurricanes, Irma, Harvey, and Maria that swept through the Caribbean and U.S., animal rescuers all sprang to action to help families with their pets, and strays that were out roaming the streets. Scenes, like dogs sitting on motor boats outside of homes that were flooded, and those who were being evacuated, were clinging to their furry friends, trying to escape the rising waters. Some people were actually being airlifted away from danger. All of these were very familiar sites.

Now, wildfires are raging through entire towns on the wests coast and first responders are coming from all over to help rescue abandoned pets, while shelters veterinarians are tending to injured animals and helping to care for those with singed whiskers, burnt paws, and even worse injuries. When you watch the news, it seems like many times, it’s dogs that make the headlines. Stories of dogs being rescued and taken to safety. But cat lovers are wondering: What about cats?

More often than not, it is the cats that are the most vulnerable to disasters than dogs. This is because dogs are more apt to stick by an owner’s side, while cats are more apt to hide, or even run away in fear of the danger. When they sense disaster, this is what their instincts tell them to do.

National Cat Day is coming up on October 29 and there are still no signs of end in natural disasters in the news. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of Cat Day and pay homage to our furry felines and the companionship they offer. Cat lovers want this to be a day that we bring an awareness to a cat’s special needs during a disaster recovery effort, and here are three main things you can do to help spread this awareness.

 1. Specially mark any donations

When you donate money to any cause, your money will be dispersed among the organization as the organizations sees fit. They are typically applied to the areas that need the most help, but if you have a specific area you want to help, then you need to make sure you mark your donation accordingly. Of course, during natural disasters, donating your money to a relief effort is the most helpful at that time, but for year-round donations, donating to low-cost sterilization clinics to help keep the cat population down, is one way you can help cats beyond natural relief efforts.

2. Volunteer in your community

 3. Derive a plan for your pet

If natural disaster were to strike in your area, would you know what to do with your pet? Do you have a plan? Here are some tips for planning for your pet during a natural disaster:

  • Get a carrier – Not only do you need to have a carrier on-hand, but your cat should be familiar with it ahead of time. Leave the carrier out, and set a nice, soft towel or blanket inside to let your cat investigate and get used to. Don’t force your cat in, just let her explore. Setting treats inside will help entice her inside.
  • Close the door – Once your cat has been in multiple times and seems comfortable crawling inside, close the door and leave the room. Let her get used to being in the crate while you are away from her, out of the room and out of site. After a few minutes, open the door and give her a treat.
  • Work up to being able to carry the crate, with her in it, around the house. Set her down in different rooms and when you do, give her a treat.

When you give your cat a treat for her accomplishment, this lets her realize that the crate is a safe place, a relaxing place, and one that she won’t fear. She won’t think of it as simply a trap for when there is a natural disaster or urgency to get out of the house. When it becomes a necessity to evacuate, it will make it much easier to get your cat, and go.

Cats may be a quieter animal than dogs. They may not be as friendly with the cameras, but they are just as important and should not be overlooked. If you want to help improve the chances of getting cats to safety and saving the lives of cats, the bottom line is, that is important to lend a paw to the cat community. Not just when a natural disaster is ensuing, but every day.

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