Recent disasters such as the fire in the Colorado Springs apartment building, the storms in Florida, and Hurricane Katrina remind all of us that we should have a plan in place for protecting our pets and ourselves in times of emergency or disaster. Preparing ahead of time is key to a good emergency plan for your pet. I have tailored this plan to cats; however, the same steps may be followed to create an emergency plan for dogs, birds, etc.
First, obtain a list of safe places you can take your cat if you need to temporarily evacuate your house or apartment building. The list might include pet-friendly hotels or motels, friends’ or relatives’ houses, and/or veterinary clinics.
You need to obtain information about the services your vet and surrounding veterinarians offer in the aftermath of disasters or emergencies. Having their contact information ready and available will ensure the safety and health of your cat. You may even want to program your vet’s number into your cell phone for easy access.
You might also want to make a pact with a trusted neighbor to take care of each other’s cat (or dog) if one or the other of you is out of town during an emergency or disaster situation. Exchange numbers. Let each other know where your cat likes to be and when you are going out of town. Each of you should also know the other’s emergency plan.
You should also have an emergency package ready to take with you if you have to evacuate. You will want to have extra food, water, bowls, can opener, litter, blankets or pet bed, and litter box on hand to take with you and your cat when you leave your home.
A standard first-aid kit should also be on hand in emergency situations. Supplies you will want to include in the first-aid kit are bandages, gauze, medical/adhesive tape, tweezers, scissors, antibiotic ointment, thermometer, and hydrogen peroxide, and antiseptic spray. In addition to a first-aid kit, you will want to keep a book on what to do in emergency situations for your pet with your emergency supplies. The book will tell you how to treat wounds, dislodge objects from your pet’s throat, and more.
Place window stickers in at least a few of your house or apartment windows, alerting firefighters and other rescue workers that you have a pet that may need rescuing. I suggest you place one of these stickers in windows that face each direction to ensure that the stickers are seen.
If your cat has a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or other condition that requires daily medication, be sure to have a separate prescription or filled bottle of medicine to put into your emergency supplies. Additionally, have a copy of vet records and recent photos of your cat with you in your kit. If your pet gets lost in the midst of disaster, you will be able to put up fliers of your pet immediately, which increases the chance you will find him or her. Put any distinguishable traits or distinctive marks your cat has on the posters as well.
You can report a lost cat (or dog) by calling the National Lost Pet Hotline at: 1-900-535-1515. If you find your pet or someone else’s pet, you can report the discovery to the National Found Pet Hotline at: 1-800-755-8111.
No amount of preparation can truly prepare anyone for a disaster. However, these strategies will help you protect your cat or other pet in emergencies and disaster situations. Print this list out, follow the steps, and keep a copy of it with your emergency supplies to refer to in the future.