Every part of the United States is vulnerable to some sort of natural disaster whether it be tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, or hurricanes. Here in Michigan we experience tornadoes, flooding, blizzards. Do you know how to care for your cat if a natural disaster strikes in your area?
How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster
First, you need a plan for handling each type of natural disaster you could experience. Consider the sorts of natural disasters that are common in your area. Research the recommended steps for protecting yourself and your family in those situations. You might find that it is best to hide out in your basement during a tornado, stand in the doorway during an earthquake, or go to a neighbor’s home during a fire. Create a plan for yourself and plan to bring your cats with you wherever you go. Make sure that you swap keys with trusted friend or family member who can keep your cats safe if you are not at home when the natural disaster strikes.
In case you have to evacuate your home during a natural disaster, make a list of friends’ homes, relatives’ homes, boarding facilities, and pet-friendly hotels that you can go to. Because of health concerns, there are many natural disaster relief shelters that will not allow pets to come with you. Here is a list of websites that can help you find pet-friendly hotels in your area:
Next, begin to prepare the cat for going along with your plan.The chances are that your cat will be very frightened during a natural disaster. Learn where all their hiding spots are so that you can retrieve them from those spots when a natural disaster occurs. Place a small sign in your front window that lets emergency workers know how many pets are in your home, what species, and their names. Get your cats used to their carriers by taking them for fun walks and rides in the car. Doing this will also help you get used to putting your cat in the carrier too.
Finally, create a natural disaster emergency kit for your cat. The CDC recommends that you keep 2 weeks of supplies per cat in your emergency kit. Make sure that each component of your kit is in an airtight, waterproof container. The kit (explained in greater detail below) should contain supplies for feeding your cat, litter box supplies and accessories, first-aid materials, medical records, identification documents, carrier, harness, and leashes, medications, boarding instructions, cat toys, and cleaning supplies.
Natural Disaster Kit Break Down
I’ve created an easy, printable version of the identification documents, boarding instructions, and an emergency kit checklist for cats – Disaster Emergency Kit.pdf
Feeding Your Cat
- Cat food in airtight, waterproof containers. You may want to consider small cans that are one meal each because you may not have access to refrigeration. Also include a manual can opener if you don’t buy food with pull tabs.
- Drinkable water. Tap water may not be safe to drink following a natural disaster.
- Food and water dishes.
Rotate food and water supplies in your kit every 3 months to keep them fresh
Litter box Supplies
- Litter box
- Litter scoop
- Plastic bags to scoop the litter into.
First Aid Materials (list taken from redrover.org)
First aid kits for pets can be purchased. To make your own, include the following items:
- Latex disposable gloves (several pairs)
- Instant cold pack
- Tweezers & scissors
- Conforming bandage (3”X5”)
- Absorbent gauze pads (4”x4”)
- Absorbent gauze pad (3” X 1 yard)
- Antiseptic wipes
- Emollient cream
Medical Records (list taken from CDC.gov)
- Rabies vaccine certificate
- Current vaccination records
- Most recent FIV/FeLV test results or vaccination date
- Summary of pertinent medical history from your veterinarian
- Microchip number
- List of medications & Pharmacy where refills can be obtained
Identification & Boarding Information
- A clear photo of your cat
- Description of your cat (breed, age, weight, color, hair length, etc)
- Owner’s contact information
- Secondary contact information (friend or family member)
- List of medications
- Feeding schedule
- List of behavior problems
- List of allergies
Miscellaneous Natural Disaster Emergency Supplies
- Cat carrier – 1 for each cat and large enough that the cat can stand and turn around in it.
- Towels for the carrier.
- Harness and leash. You may have to take the cat out of the carrier at some point. The harness and leash will help you maintain control of the cat.
- Paper towel and disinfectant for cleaning up the litter box and cat carrier.
- Liquid soap to clean the food and water dishes.
- Cat toys if they will help your cat feel more calm and secure.
During the Natural Disaster & It’s Aftermath
Rule #1 for keeping your cat safe is to keep your cat with you wherever you go during a natural disaster (or the aftermath). Don’t assume that the cat will be just fine if you abandon it. Put the cat into their carrier as soon as possible to make it easier to take the cat with you. If you take cover in the basement, bring the cat in the basement. If you leave to go to a neighbor’s house or a shelter, take the cat there with you too.
If you happen to be in a natural disaster situation where you will be staying in your home, place the cat in its carrier and keep it with you wherever you are in your home. Cover areas that the cat might crawl into and get stuck if it gets out of the carrier (like vents). Make sure to give the carrier as much protection from falling objects as possible. Try to keep as calm as possible and don’t leave your home until you are sure it is safe to do so.
Have you ever been through a natural disaster with your pets?