Just as you do with your family’s disaster survival kit, think first about the basics, for your cat – food, water and comfort.
Think about two Disaster Survival Kits –
- One kit for if you need to stay at home for up to three days (Home Kit).
- The other, a more portable lightweight version (Getaway Kit) for when you, your family and your cat need to leave
Place these kits somewhere easy to get to in a hurry and make sure everyone in the house knows where they are kept, including a neighbour.
Always re-check these kits for expiry dates, to ensure supplies stay fresh. Water should always be replaced every six months to ensure freshness.
Pets are usually not permitted in public shelters or evacuation centres, so you need to plan and agree on a ‘Safe House’ or an animal shelter that you and your cat (or just your cat) could go to.
Plan and agree with a family member or friend (who doesn’t live with you and who has ideally cared for your cat in the past) if they will care for your cat for any length of time in case of a disaster. Place their full name, address and telephone number in your emergency survival kit in a waterproof container. All adults and children in your household should know these primary and alternative contacts (names / addresses / contact numbers) or always carry this information with them.
Show them and a neighbour where your disaster survival kits are just in case you are not at home when disaster strikes and you are cut off from returning to your cat. This means they can at least feed and attend to your cat in the interim. Have a plan to communicate with your pet’s carer after the event. You will want to arrange a meeting place in a safe area so you can be reunited with your cat.
Make a list of contact information and addresses of other potential places you may be able to leave your cat (cattery, motels that allow pets or local vet centres). Keep a list on you at all times and a copy in each of your disaster survival kits. Always call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to evacuate from home.
GIVE IT A GO
To ensure your family and cat can move fast and feel comfortable if you need to shelter in place in a disaster, you should practice getting your family into your safe place in the house (where your emergency survival kits are kept). You can time yourselves and give it another go from time to time to see how fast (but not panicked) you can operate.
Then try again to your chosen ‘Safe House/Shelter’. By practicing an evacuation, your cat will get used to entering their cage/carrier and travelling calmly.
Try doing practice runs, also in the dark. This will ensure you can navigate quicker if a disaster strikes during the night or if there is a power cut.
Emergency Survival Items
|Food||Store at least three days of non-perishable cat food (canned or dried) in an airtight, waterproof container. Remember the can opener! Ideally, this should be the same food that you normally feed your cat so as to avoid stomach upsets.|
|Water||Store at least three days of water for your cat, in addition to the water you need for your family (remember – a cat can drink more water than usual when under stress). Plus you will need extra water to clean up after your cat.|
|Medication||Store an extra supply of medication your cat needs in a waterproof container as well as special dietary needs or supplements.|
|Vet Records||Store copies of any medical records in a watertight container including your vet’s name and telephone number (in case you have to board your cat or place them in foster care).|
|First Aid Kit||Make up a first aid kit or add to your household’s first aid kit. Talk to your vet about any specific requirements such as tick/flea prevention, antibiotic ointment and saline solution (i.e. eye wash solution separate from your family use).|
|Blanket / Bedding||Familiar items, like a favourite blanket or toys, or even a pillowcase they can bury into, can help reduce stress for your cat.|
|Sanitation||Include any cat litter and litter box device. Other useful items are newspapers, paper towels, plastic bags and household bleach.|
|Collar with registration tag||You could also consider adding an ID disc to your cat’s collar that clearly states their name, your name, phone number and if there is room your address. Include a back up collar and tag in your cat’s disaster survival kit.|
|Microchip details||Make sure your cat is microchipped and a copy of the microchip registration form is in your disaster survival kit. If your cat gets lost, this is their easiest ticket home! Ensure your microchip database records include the contact details of your ‘next of kin’ (i.e. a close relative or friend outside of your household), in case you have to be evacuated and the mobile phone network is down. Remember to regularly check your details on the microchip databases to make sure they are all up to date.|
|Photograph||Store a current photograph of your cat in a waterproof container, including notes on: distinguishing features, name, sex, age, colour and breed. Also include a photograph of you and your cat together as this helps prove they are yours if you become separated.|
|Back up||As a back-up, save microchip details, medical and veterinary details, key contact details and all photographs electronically – to places such as ‘Dropbox’, your mobile phone or save a folder in your Webmail. This means you can still access these vital details if you are cut off from returning to your cat.|
|Cages or Carrier||This is to transport your cat safely and ensure they cannot escape. Remember anything cardboard/paper based (i.e. pet carrier box) will disintegrate.|
A cage/carrier should be large enough for your cat to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your cat may have to stay in the cage/carrier for hours at a time, so include bedding and any favourite toy to reduce stress levels.