The recent disasters in Japan, New Zealand and Australia have raised our awareness of the need of a good emergency plan. Although most people admit they need one, only a small percentage of people will take the steps necessary to execute a plan.
In crafting a plan, consider all scenarios: what will you do if you’re at home, at work, or on vacation when disaster strikes? Most importantly, how will you ensure the safety of your cats?
Here are five things to consider for your emergency preparedness pet plan that could save your cat’s life:
1) Have one carrier for each of your cats on hand, stored in an easily accessible place.
If you have more than a couple of cats, you probably have fewer carriers than you have cats. Cardboard Cat Carriers are inexpensive (just over $4) and can be stored just about anywhere without taking up a lot of space. If you have a large home, consider storing carriers both upstairs and downstairs.
In the event of a disaster, your normally docile ball of fur can become frantic, so wrapping her in a towel to take her to the car or jamming her in a carrier with another cat is not usually an optimal solution, especially if you’re trying to load up the car with valuables at the same time. In an emergency, you really need a carrier for each pet.
2) Keep a flashlight in your nightstand. The power may likely be out in the event of a fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster, so you’ll need light to search for your pets before evacuating. In addition to a small flashlight in my nightstand, I keep a solar-charged emergency flashlight on the windowsill. The emergency light also has AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio and a mobile phone charger. A hand crank ensures that even when the juice is expended you can use the device.
3) Display a Pet Safety Alert Window Decal with up-to-date pet count. Often, you can get these window clings for free at pet expos, local shelters and the like. For example, you can order a FREE SAFETY PACK from the ASPCA online.
4) Microchip, tag and bell your cat(s). A bell on the collar can help you locate a spooked cat even when there’s no light to see. Even if your cat is an indoor cat, if you’re not at home when disaster strikes, your cat could survive the disaster only to be hopelessly lost afterward. Microchipping is effective, but there’s no guarantee that whoever finds your cat will think to take her to a vet or shelter to be scanned. An ID Tag provides instant identification that works in tandem with the microchip to help reunite you with your cat.
5) Create a Grab-and-Go file with your cat’s medical records, and create an online backup.
If your cat is on meds, do you know both what she’s taking, and the dosage amount? Many pet owners do not. A widespread disaster could shut down your vet’s office, so it’s important to be able to provide your pet’s medical records to another vet.
When there are evacuation centers set up for pets, you are likely to be asked for proof that they’re up-to-date on shots in order to leave them there (similar to kennel protocols).
We keep our most important files (cat records, tax records, birth certs, etc.) at the very front of our office file cabinet, bound with a giant rubber band. They’re easy to grab, and we don’t have to think twice about what records we need.
Got a smart phone? Applications like MyPetED provide immediate access to your pet’s medical records.
[PHOTO CREDIT: SillyVillage]