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Emergency Preparedness: Do You Have a Plan for Your Cat?

September marks National Preparedness Month, which means being ready for emergencies, disasters, anything Mother Nature or life sends our way. Naturally, being ready includes your cat. If you haven’t thought about how you and Tabby would fare in an emergency, now’s the time.

Follow the Scouts’ Motto: Be Prepared!

Helpful lists of supplies and suggestions are available from the ASPCA and the American Humane Association as well as on Pet360. By assembling your emergency Go Kit in advance of storm warnings, you’ll never be among those shoppers hunting litter and bottled water as the wind howls. Microchipping your cat helps with the biggest fear in disasters, that of pets separated from owners.

Besides the basic advice, Chateau Cat suggests a few tweaks: rather than a three-day or one-week supply of cat food, fresh water, litter, opt for two weeks’ worth. Disasters affect stores and deliveries, leaving them short on necessities when the worst is over. Disposable litter boxes are good emergency extras that’ll never be wasted.

A cat harness—in addition to, not instead of--your carrier, is an excellent security boost. At a public shelter, if you want to give your pet a break from her carrier, just holding her is unsafe in a crowded, strange place. A harness will prevent her from suddenly racing off. For peace of mind, get her used to it—like a life vest—long before you need it.

Read More: Joy of the Cat Walk: Training Your Cat to Stroll on a Leash

A duplicate of your cat’s fave toy, plus a t-shirt with your scent and your cat’s, will offer a reassuring touch of home, always welcome in scary times.

Keep a Detailed Emergency Plan

Your game plan, whether to stay put or find an area shelter, should be updated periodically. Some public shelters allow pets but limit the number of animals. Your vet and local animal shelter should be part of your conversation: they’ve got emergency plans too--if not, your questions could prompt them. You may learn that your vet’s office is equipped with generators to keep humming through power outages, or that your flood-prone animal shelter will evacuate.

Keep detailed notes, and create a backup plan, whether that means parking Tabby at your cousin’s or teaming with neighbors to designate who’ll help with the pets if some of you aren’t home during an emergency.

A drill to evacuate your home in a hurry, as in a gas leak or fire, means keeping a carrier where you can grab it at any hour. Practice at least once, then mentally rehearse till it’s a reaction: you’ll place your cat in the carrier, and get yourselves outside your home before calling 911 or alerting others. Your only valuables are your life and your pet. Nothing else matters. Possessions are just “things” and things, whether paperwork or family photos, can be recovered, replaced, or remembered.

If you and Tabby get ready, chances are, you’ll never need that Go Kit.

Sad kitten via Shutterstock

Kathy Blumenstock

Kathy Blumenstock

Kathy Blumenstock has been passionate about animals since childhood, when she had dreams of becoming a veterinarian - caring for injured animals that showed up in her family backyard - or a jockey (fueled by reading every book about horses in the library). She's been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, Entertainment Tonight and TV Week.

Read Kathy Blumenstock's Full Bio