If an area is unsafe for people, it’s also unsafe for your pets. During a disaster structural damage to homes, and contaminated food and water pose great risks to a cat left alone. Even if you plan on leaving for only a few hours, take your cats with you. Often, people are away from their homes longer than expected. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Make sure your cats always have current identification. Consider including contact information for someone outside your area, in case phone service is down in the disaster area. If your cat is micro-chipped keep the registration information up-to-date.
- Find possible evacuation places in advance. Many evacuation shelters don’t accept pets and you may want to consider a cat-friendly motel, a friend’s or relative’s home as an evacuation site. Boarding facilities and local animal shelters may also be an option.
- Always have a recent photo of your cat with you, in case you’re separated. Photos are an invaluable tool when locating a missing cat.
- When you leave your home, leave a large message for rescuers that people and cats have left the home. Paint on a piece of wood “All people/animals safe” and attach it to a visible location on your home. This saves rescuers valuable time.
Important Supplies When Evacuating with Your Cat
- All pertinent records and medical information for your cat, such as medical history, licensing, and owner and alternate contact information. It’s a good idea to place copies of this info in a sealed plastic bag (zip top). Always keep it taped inside the carrier. If evacuated, this saves valuable time.
- Food, water, and bowls. Set aside bottled water, any special food, dietary, or medical supplies your cat may need.
- It’s a good idea to bring newspaper, handy wipes for cleaning and a can opener for preparation purposes.
- A carrier large enough to accommodate your cat, and a small litter box. Your cat may have to spend a long time in the carrier and should have all the comforts of home.
If You’re Not Home When an Evacuation is Ordered
- Ensure a reliable neighbor or cat-sitter can evacuate your cat for you.
- To avoid confusion, set up a plan in advance, and makes sure the caretaker knows it. Select a meeting spot outside of the affected area to reclaim your cat.
Sometimes, You Simply Cannot Take Your Cat
- Place your cat in the most secure place in the house. High ground is best when leaving a cat behind, as they will be able to avoid any flooding that may occur.
- Provide your cat with more than enough food and water. Consider leaving an entire bag of food (or more) out, in case you cannot return for some time. Set up a pan or bowl beneath a slowly dripping faucet will provide a reliable water source. Also, fill a bathtub or sinks with water before you leave. Leave toilet bowl lids open.
- Leave a sign outside your home, allowing rescuers to readily identify your home as one with animals inside. Rescuers are often granted access to disaster areas faster than residents, and can help to reunite you and your cat sooner.