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How to Include Your Cat in A Disaster Preparedness Plan

Part of being a good pet owner means knowing what to do in an emergency. In order to be prepared for a disaster or other type of emergency situation, you need to have a plan in place. This includes planning your evacuation and packing an emergency kit for your pet. You should also prepare your home ahead of time with a rescue alert sticker, and make sure your cat has an ID tag on at all times.

Including Your Cat in an Evacuation Plan

1. Make a plan. Think about what you will need to do and where you will need to go if you have to leave your home for any reason. Create a chain of command where one person is in charge of getting the cat, but others will be sure to check in case the appointed person is unable to complete the task. You should include a meeting spot outside the home in your evacuation plan. This will ensure that everyone knows what to do and where to go to keep everyone safe (including your cat).

2. Inform all family members. Once you have your emergency evacuation plan in place, make sure all of your family members know what the plan is and what needs to be done to ensure your cat’s safety. Even the children in your home should be made aware of the plan.

Everyone needs to be reminded from time to time about the emergency evacuation plan so that people (including children) can recall the information easily, even in the heat of the moment.

3. Always bring your cat with you. If you are forced to evacuate your home, never leave your pets behind. This could be incredibly dangerous for your pets. Pets are unlikely to survive if they are left behind in a disaster situation.

You may need to consider boarding your pets in emergency situations.
If you have absolutely no other recourse and must leave your pets at home, make sure they have access to drinking water. You can take the lid off the toilet tank and lift up the toilet seat. Leave a bowl of dry food out as well. Never leave your pet chained outside if you evacuate your home.

4. Know how to find a scared cat. It’s important to remember that your cat may run and hide in an emergency situation. This means your cat might not be very easy to find when you are trying to evacuate. Try looking under and behind pieces of furniture. If you can’t find the cat, try to lure it out with some of its favorite treats.

Pay attention to how your cat acts when it is scared at other times. Then you will have an idea about its go-to hiding spots in your home, which could speed up your search during an emergency.
If your cat hides under your bed when guests come over, it’s likely that your cat will also dart under the bed when it is scared during a disaster.

Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Pet

1. Pack all the essentials. In case you have to evacuate your home for any reason, you should have an emergency kit packed with the necessities for your cat. This way, you can just grab it and be ready to go with your cat.

You should include things like travel water and food bowls, a supply of your cat’s food, a bottle of potable water, any medications your cat may need, medical records, and a small litter pan with litter.

You will also need a pet carrier to transport your pet. You might want to consider putting all of the supplies in a box inside the pet carrier when you are not using it. That way, all of the things will be together and you’ll know where to find it when you need it.

2. Bring a photo of your cat. In case your cat gets lost, you’ll need a current photo of it. Even if you have quite a few examples on your cell phone, it will still be helpful to have an actual printed copy that you can show to rescue workers.

Try to bring several copies of several different pictures.
Make sure the photos are current and accurately reflect what your cat looks like.

3. Include a list of accommodations that allow pets. In case you have to evacuate your home, you’ll need to go to a place that allows all members of your family – including your pets. It would be helpful to call some of the motels and hotels in your local area ahead of time to see what their pet policies are.

Keep a list of hotels that allow cats with your emergency kit so that you’ll already be prepared and know where to go if an emergency were to actually happen.

4. Know how to get your cat into its carrier. Most cats will not go willingly into a cat carrier, especially not when they are already stressed out. The best way to get a reluctant cat into a carrier is to place the pet carrier on its end with the opening facing the ceiling. Hold your cat gently underneath its front legs, with your other hand under the cat’s bottom. Then slowly lower the cat into the carrier.

This method should help keep your cat’s legs and claws away from the edges of the carrier, which they often use to prevent you from pushing them inside.

After you have lowered the cat in, lock the door and lower the carrier into its correct position.

Sheltering at Home in a Disaster

1. Prepare a safe room. If you need to stay home during a disaster, like a hurricane or tornado, you should prepare a safe space in your house for all of your family members to gather. This includes your pets. In most emergency situations, you should choose a location that is in the most central part of your home, away from any windows that could break and harm you. You should also go underground if possible – if you have a storm shelter or basement.

If you can’t go underground, try to bring a heavy mattress down to your safe room that you can huddle under.

2. Pack supplies. Think about the things that you may need once the disaster is over and put those in the safe room. You should bring some lanterns and flashlights – all with fresh batteries. You should also pack some bottled water and food supplies. Additionally, bring all of the things that your cat will need to survive, such as cat food, medication, leash, and collar.

Ideally, you can just grab your cat’s emergency supply kit and bring it with you to the safe location.

3. Bring your cat to the safe location. When it’s time for your family to go to the safe location in your home, it’s also time to bring your cat to the safe spot. Put your cat in its pet carrier and take it with you to your chosen place.

Never just try to hold your cat during an emergency situation. You can pet the cat inside the carrier to soothe it, but you need to keep the cat inside the carrier so it doesn’t escape outside in case a window breaks.

4. Look for your cat outside. If your home is damaged in a disaster and your cat has escaped outside, you need to go look for the cat as soon as it is safe for you to do so. Once the danger has passed, go outside and begin searching the perimeter of your home. It is likely that your cat stayed nearby.
Bring some treats with you so that your cat can smell its favorite food.

Call your kitty’s name gently around your home so that your cat can respond to your voice.
Try looking in nooks and crannies of any rubble that may be around outside. Cats like small tight spaces that make them feel more secure.

Preparing for an Emergency Ahead of Time

1. Place a rescue alert sticker in your front window. Rescue alert stickers inform rescue workers about any pets living in the home. Simply fill out the sticker with the number of animals in your home and place it on or near your front door.

They are usually static-cling stickers that list several different species of animal (dogs, cats, birds, or other) and allow you to indicate how many of each you have inside the home.

You should be able to acquire a rescue alert sticker at your local pet store or veterinarian’s office.
If you can’t find one in person, you can definitely order these stickers online.

2. Provide your cat with an identification tag. For your cat’s safety, it is essential that you make it wear an identification tag at all times. That way, if there ever is an emergency, your cat will be easily identifiable by its collar tag.

You should include your cat’s name and your phone number on the tag. You may also consider adding your home address.

You should also consider microchipping your cat as an additional form of identification. If your cat gets stuck and breaks out of its collar, the microchip will still be in place.

3. Get a pet tracker. There are many varieties of devices that attach to your pet’s collar and use GPS technology to track their location. Consider using one of these devices so that you can find your cat if you get separated during an emergency or disaster situation.

Even if you don’t use the tracker all the time, consider attaching it to your cat’s collar when inclement weather is approaching.

To include your cat in a disaster preparedness plan, have an emergency kit ready with essentials for your cat, such as cat food, potable water, and medication, in case you need to evacuate. Additionally, make sure your cat has an identification tag with its name and your phone number on it. You may also want to microchip your cat just in case it breaks out of its collar. If you live with family, decide which person is in charge of getting the cat in your evacuation plan, and make sure everyone knows what the plan is. For more information from our Veterinary co-author, including what you should do to get your cat into its carrier in an emergency, scroll down!


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