Some cats in Fort Collins, Colo., are breathing sighs of relief after they lived through a fire that badly damaged the building where their caretakers lived.
The fire started in the wee hours of Monday morning in an apartment complex that was under construction, and quickly spread to a neighboring building containing condos and businesses.
All the people got out, but they reported to firefighters that in the chaos, four cats went missing.
When the fire crew returned to the building the next morning to extinguish hot spots on the heavily damaged fourth floor, they found one of the cats and took him to the Colorado State University’s veterinary hospital. (The cat was okay and he was reunited with his owners the next day.)
Not content to let the other three cats languish, the firefighters went back the next day to look for them. As they were searching, one of them noticed a hole in the protective screen on the back of a sofa. He took a closer look and found a bulge in the fabric that covered the bottom of the couch … which turned out to be the silent, terrified form of one of the missing cats.
Two down, two to go.
I guess they hadn’t seen any evidence of the other cats, so they set out humane traps in hopes of catching them.
Stories like this remind me not only that firefighters are awesome, but how important it is to have a disaster/evacuation plan that includes your cats. Even I’m guilty of not being totally prepared: I don’t have weeks’ worth of food and water and my cats’ vet records easily at hand if I have to flee, for example, and I don’t have one of those “Rescue my pets” decals on my window.
On the other hand, if my house catches fire I do know what I’ll do and in what order. Because I’ve dealt with a number of emergency situations before, I know I can manage the crisis without panicking (the crying and shaking is reserved for later, once everybody’s safe). If I have to evacuate, I know where my cats and I will go and how I’ll get there, and I have a plan for checking in with my family to make sure everybody’s safe. My cats’ carriers are close at hand, I know where they’ll flee if the fire alarms go off and how I’ll get them in the carriers and out of harm’s way. I also know that nothing I own is more important than my cats, and that their safety and well-being is my top priority.
Do you have a disaster plan for you and your cats? If you believe you’re likely to panic in an emergency, or if you have a disability that makes it hard for you to wrangle terrified cats, do you have a housemate or a friend who can stay calm and help you do what has to be done? Do you have any other suggestions for your fellow Catsters about how to prepare for a disaster or an emergency like a house fire?