Hurricane Preparedness for Your Cats


I live in South Florida, so for the past couple of days you can bet I’ve been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irene and what she’s going to do. I love living here, but hurricane season really makes me nervous sometimes!

Early this morning, Irene looked like she was going to basically plow right into my house on the day I’m supposed to fly out for the BlogPaws conference. No! I don’t think I could have left Pimp and Moo alone, so I probably would have had to just not go.

Luckily, though, as the day went on, the “cone of uncertainty” (or whatever they’re calling it these days) has been shifting to the west, but South Florida is still within the risk area.

But every time this happens, I get to thinking — I hope everyone has a hurricane preparedness plan for their pets. Here are a couple things to make sure you have ready, and some things to consider if a hurricane is headed your way:

1. Make sure you buy extra cat food. Just like with people food, stores run out of cat food in emergency situations like this. People freak out (with good reason) and buy it up. It’s especially important to plan ahead for if your cat eats special or prescription food.

2. Make sure you have enough water for your pets. They’ll need fresh water just like you, and in the event that there is a boil-water warning (or no water at all; it’s happened to me before) and you have no power, they’ll still be thirsty! Three days of water and food per person and animal is the rule of thumb.

3. Seek out evacuation shelters that allow pets. If you do have to evacuate, you definitely won’t want to leave your pets behind to fend for themselves. Most hurricane shelters DO NOT allow animals, so check ahead for one in your area that does. These generally require advance sign-up. If you don’t have one close to home, find pet-friendly hotels or vets that will be open for boarding.

4. Have carriers for each of your pets, and have them ready. If you do ride out the storm in your home and things get ugly, you’ll want to put your babies in their carriers to keep them safe and nearby. I know what I’m most worried about during a hurricane is where Pimp and Moo are, in case I need to grab them real quick. Be ready.

5. If you have a “safe room” in your house, make sure you have pet supplies ready in there as well. This is typically a room with no windows in the interior of your house, like the bathroom. Food, water and the litterbox should be ready to go inside you need to take cover in there.

6. Stay with them and make them feel safe! You know the hurricane is coming because you’ve been watching the news; your pets have no idea what is going on. They’ll probably be scared, so do your best to calm them and show them extra love. You’ll get through it together!

7. If you have outside kitties you care for (like the cats I feed at my office parking lot) and there’s any way you can bring them in (just for the day!), try and do that. Ferals are obviously not easy to round up, and it’s often not even feasible, but make sure to feed them before the storm hits so they have full bellies. Check for them as soon as you can after, but not during the storm. Animals are amazingly smart and they’ll probably have a good hiding place. Let them stay there until it’s safe to come out.

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