In the wake of the recent calamity brought about by Hurricane Florence as it slammed into the East Coast, cat owners who live in areas with the potential for dangerous weather conditions need to be prepared to care for their furry friends in the event of a natural disaster. When such an event takes place, are you prepared to evacuate your cats safely along with yourself and your family? Simply carrying your cat along with you to safety may become more complicated than you imagined. We’ve put together a checklist that will help to keep you and your cat safe if an emergency should happen.
1. Set an emergency plan in place that includes how you’ll include your cat(s)
In many natural or weather-related disasters, people are ordered to evacuate. Don’t wait until there is a need to evacuate to put these plans in place. Make sure that your vehicle is filled with fuel and that the battery is in good working order. Keep the tires filled to the recommended levels and have an emergency medical kit and blankets stored in the vehicle.
2. Maintain the supplies that you and your cat will need at all times
You never know when you will need to evacuate in an emergency situation. Keep your prescriptions filled and if your cat is on any medications make sure to have them on hand. Also keep fresh food for yourself and your pet, including cat litter and fresh water. Also, place a disposable pan in your supplies to use as an emergency litter box. If you’re in an area that is prone to flooding, keep everything stored in plastic waterproof containers and label them clearly.
3. Purchase an approved cat carrier and get your pet used to it
The best way to evacuate your cat is to take him or her in an approved carrier. Bear in mind that where there is an emergency situation, your cat will feel the tension and may get stressed out. You may have the friendliest cat in the world, but when a life and death situation arises, primal fear may take over. It’s best to have your pet secured in a carrier to prevent him from causing harm to himself by running out into the weather, or to you by scratching or biting out of fear. It’s a good idea to start using the carrier well in advance of an emergency so your cat gets used to it.
4. Have identification ready to take along
Make sure that you have your photo ID along with you when you evacuate in an emergency situation. You should do the same for your cat. It’s best to use a quick release collar in case something happens and the collar needs to be removed. Have a photo of your cat along with you in case it gets separated from you in the emergency. Make sure that your cat is wearing a tag for identification. It’s also a good idea to have your cat microchipped well in advance of an emergency situation.
5. Have a backup plan for your cat carrier
If you don’t have a cat carrier, it’s not recommended to carry your beloved feline in your arms. The odds of him or her jumping out of your arms or biting/scratching are much higher in an emergency situation. When you don’t have a carrier for your cat, use a pillowcase to carry it out. You can alleviate the stress that this may cause your kitty by putting the pillow or blanket used for his bed or a favorite toy inside the pillowcase with him. If you’re being evacuated in a boat, a pillowcase will prevent your cat from seeing the water and in some cases, it can be more soothing than an open carrier that allows him to see what’s going on.
6. Do not leave your cat behind in an emergency
While saving human life is the top priority, it’s cruel to leave your pet behind unless you absolutely have no other options. If it’s not safe for you to stay behind, then it’s not safe for your cat either. Determine where you’re going to go and make sure to find a location that you can take your cat and other pets with you. If you’re going to an emergency shelter, most of them will have a place for pets, and if it’s a hotel, make sure that it is a pet-friendly room.
7. Don’t go back until it’s safe
The officials that ordered the evacuation will be monitoring the situation in the area where you live. Resist the urge to go back home until you receive the “all clear” that it is safe for you to do so. There may be hidden dangers that you are not aware of, even if everything looks okay. Check it out and make sure that you and your cat will be safe before you return to your home.
8. Be ready to spring into action
In some situations, you are given ample notice of a pending evacuation, but this is not always the case. Storms can be unpredictable and you may only have a few moments notice, so this is why it is vital to be prepared at all times. By following the recommendations on this checklist, you’ll be prepared if disaster strikes.