Evacuating with your cat: If it's not safe for humans, it's not safe for your cat!
Be prepared to take your cat with you if you have to evacuate your home. If the area is unsafe for humans, it's unsafe for cats too. It is a myth that animals can take care of themselves in a disaster. I know you hear stories about families being reunited with their pets after a disaster but those stories are rare. No one hears about all the cats that perish in floods, fires and other disasters that you might have to evacuate your home for. Your family will be calmer and happier during this time of crisis if they have their beloved cat with them.
So what do you do if you have to evacuate?...
Be prepared. Make an Evacuation Kit for Your Cat. Even if you don't think you'll be gone long, you never know what will happen so be prepared to be away for at least a week. Here is a checklist of things you'll need when you leave your home:
1) A pet crate or carrier large enough for your cat to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Your cat may be in there for a week, so make sure it is comfortable. a blanket or towel will help make this small space more comfortable.
2) Medical records, vaccine certificates, medication with instructions on how to give it to your cat, your vet's contact information, and your contact information. Some people put all of this in a plastic bag and keep it taped to the inside of the crate so it is always there even if you aren't.
3) Keep current photos of your cat with you for identification in case you are separated. A picture can get you reunited faster and prove that the animal is yours.
4) At least a week's supply of food, water and litter - all stored in separate air-tight, water-tight plastic containers - that last thing you want to do after you rescue your cat from the danger is feed them contaminated food. If you have canned food, make sure you have a manual can opener. Also bring, bowls and a litter box.
5) A litter scoop, plastic bags for waste, paper towels for cleaning.
6) Grooming supplies and toys to reduce stress. You'll also need a harness and leash because if you do get to let your cat out of the cage as some point during evacuation, you won't be allowed to let him run around freely. It is simply not safe. So even if he protests, put a harness on him and attach a sturdy leash. You'll be able to let your cat stretch his legs.
When you leave your home, make a sign for rescuers that says there are no people or pets in your home. If it is too dangerous for you too take your cat, (by this I mean you have to choose between your life and your cat's life, then you have to save yourself) make sure there is a sign on your house saying there is a cat inside - if possible leave a picture or a description for rescuers. They might be able to save your cat if they know it's in the house and what it looks like.
What do you do if you have to leave without your pet? get everything listed above and put your cat and supplies at the safest point in the house. Do not put your cat in the cage, but leave more than enough food open and get lots of clean water - fill up the sinks, bathtubs and leave the faucet on a slow drip and leave the toilet seats up so your cat has access to clean water. Make sure you leave a sign, rescuer workers can help to reunite you and your pet. But remember don't be too hopeful. Most cats left behind usually die. Leave your cat behind only if it is a last resort.
If you are not at home when an evacuation is ordered, ensure you have a reliable neighbor, pet sitter, or relative that can collect your cat. Make arrangements before they get your cat with a meeting place, time and contact information.
The Humane Society of the United States has tips for keeping your pet safe and happy during the sometimes long car rides during evacuation.
Unfortunately, some evacuation sites don't allow you to keep your pet with you. In that case, consider making arrangements to stay with a friend or relative you'll have to leave your cat and all of his supplies at a local animal shelter outside the evacuation zone or stay in a cat friendly hotel or hotel that allows pets.
Contact your local animal shelter to get information about what their evacuation policies and facilities are and get packing - you can have an emergency kit ready with just a little planning.
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