Disaster can strike at any time. It’s scary to think about, but a little advanced planning can ease some of the fear and help keep you and your pets safe. Whether it’s a house fire or a hurricane, you’ll want to be ready. And since cats are ill-equipped to prepare themselves in case of a disaster, it’s up to us — their human friends — to plan ahead.
Here are four things you can do now to keep pets safe should disaster hit home.
1. Prepare a Disaster Kit for Your Pet
Pre-pack a plastic bin or backpack with the following items:
- Five- to seven-day supply of food and water per pet, along with bowls and, if needed, a manual can opener
- Litter, litter box, scoop, and garbage bags
- Any medications that your pet needs
- Sturdy carriers and extra collars/leashes in case you must evacuate
- Current photos of you with your pets (to help identify your pets if they get lost)
- Copies of your pet’s paperwork: medical history, microchip number and company contact information, your veterinarian’s name and contact details, and information about your pet’s diet and behavior in case you need to use a temporary foster home or a boarding facility (It’s smart to store this information on a USB drive too, just in case paperwork gets destroyed.)
- Pet first aid kit
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Towels and blankets
- Pet toys
- Flashlight and fresh batteries
2. Post “Rescue Alert” Stickers
The ASPCA offers free Rescue Alert stickers to post in the windows of your home, preferably close to your front door. If a disaster occurs while you’re away, these stickers alert emergency personnel that there are animals inside your house who need help. If you are evacuated and you take your pets with you, write EVACUATED across the sticker so it’s clear your pets are no longer in the home.
3. Map Out a Safe Haven
Be ready to take your pets with you in case of an emergency evacuation. Seek out area animal shelters, hotels, motels, or boarding facilities where you can go with your pets during a disaster (your vet may have recommendations). Keep a list of these places in your Disaster Kit. That way, you’ll know where you can take your pets if you need to evacuate your home.
Also, find family or friends outside of your immediate area who agree to be caregivers for your pets if you can’t get to a safe haven or if the ones you planned to use are full. Provide these caregivers with the supplies they need to properly care for your cats.
4. Assign Emergency Pet Caregivers
You’ll want to have someone nearby who is ready to lend a hand in the case of an emergency where you can’t get home. Reach out to neighbors and create a plan so they can care for your cats if you’re away; offer to do the same for their pets if they aren’t home when disaster strikes. Make sure you each have the necessary supplies and a key or other information about how to get into the house if it’s locked.
Disasters are devastating, especially if they hit without warning. Take time now to create your disaster emergency plan and kit. Then, if something happens, you’ll be ready with a plan to help keep you and your pets safe.
Other Disaster Preparedness Resources: