Watching the news and seeing the terrible tornado destruction makes us all think about the safety of our family during times of disaster–including our furry family. We are always mindful of tornado watches and flash flood watches at our home as well as red flag warnings for wildfires, a warning that we’re under today in central Texas due to dry conditions, high winds, and low humidity.
To make sure we could evacuate our cats in the event of a disaster with just a few minutes’ warning, we keep our cat carriers out and easily accessible. Instead of only pulling out the carriers when the cats are headed to the veterinarian, we leave the carriers out and opened all the time. The doors remain open and each carrier has a small, soft mat and a toy inside. Occasionally we’ll toss a cat treat inside. We work to make the cat carriers a place where the cats WANT to be so there’s no struggle to get them inside the carriers in a fast evacuation.
Petco has issued some more helpful tips for evacuating cats and all your animals during times of disaster. We hope you’ll take a moment to read through these and create a mental checklist to keep your furry family members safe and sound in times of emergency!
Avoid Losing Pets
- Keep pets inside. A pet left outside in the elements can be injured or die, or can become easily lost.
- Keep current photographs of pets with important documents. If a pet is lost during a disaster, a sharp, recent photo can be used to make flyers.
- Keep an up-to-date identification tag securely fastened on pets. If a pet gets out or flees from a scary scene, this will greatly increase the chance they will be returned. Take this measure even for indoor cats. Use breakaway collars, and make sure cats can slip their head out if the collar gets caught on something. Having a cellular telephone number on a pets ID tag instead of a home number is recommended because if there is an evacuation, no one will be home to answer phone calls. Also consider getting microchip IDs for animals.
Keeping Pets Mentally and Emotionally at Ease
When the family is stressed, most pets will feel it too. Bringing along their favorite blanket or toy can often help ease anxiety. There are also calming agents and products like the Thundershirt.
- Ten minutes of thinking play can equal 45 minutes of active, outdoor play for pets. During stressful situations such as evacuations or storms, keep pets mentally stimulated and entertained with food puzzles.
- During extreme temperatures, make sure a pet is comfortable. Make sure pets have a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy bed with a warm blanket or pillow can do wonders for keeping pets emotionally happy.
- Do not leave pets behind during evacuations. Take all pets including birds, reptiles, hamsters, rabbits, etc. In case of an emergency evacuation, it is always a good idea to keep an extra harness in vehicles, as well as an emergency kit as an extra precaution. Also, make sure to keep a carrier and seatbelt harness for each pet in the car to ensure safe transportation of pets. Put the pet’s name along with the pet parent’s name and phone number on the crate or habitat that the pet will be transported in. This will ensure someone can reach pet parents that are separated from their animal. It is important to keep pets from different species as separate as possible and maintain the best possible hygiene in order to decrease disease transmission.
- When transporting animals, park or move the car close to the house and ensure the car is warmed up before putting an animal inside. When using a carrier to transport a pet, cover the carrier for transport to and from the car to help prevent exposure to the elements, but remove the cover once in the car for better ventilation. Plan travel routes in advance so animals are taken directly to intended destinations and take the animal inside the new location first prior to bringing in any other item.
- As a precaution, make advance arrangements by checking with a veterinarian, local animal hospital, kennel or shelter to see if dogs or other pets can be boarded during a disaster. Be prepared to submit current medical records. Put together a “pet network,” in which arrangements are already made with someone outside of the immediate area to care for each other’s pets in a crisis.
- Make sure to have a pet “emergency kit” on hand. This waterproof bag should include pet food and dishes, bottled water, treats, a can opener, medications, potty pads, paper towels and cleaning supplies, copies of pets’ medical records (in a waterproof container), toys, leashes, harnesses, collars, current photos and contact numbers. It’s also important to have a pet’s regular medications. Keeping familiar beds and blankets in the emergency kit can help put pets at emotionally at ease if they are evacuated to an unfamiliar location. For cats, also pack disposable litter pans, litter and a scoop. Always have at least one week’s supply of water in storage for animals. If the drinking water gets contaminated in a disaster, it’s not safe for people or pets.