This has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Jennifer Coates, DVM on October 6, 2016
June 1 officially marks the beginning of the hurricane season. The week prior, May 25-31, has been deemed National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Since these dates are right around the corner, it seems a good time to talk about how to prepare yourself and your family for a hurricane. One of the most important things to remember is that your plans need to include your cat.
What should you do in preparation? Here are some tips.
- According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricane dangers can occur from storm surges, high winds, or inland flooding. You should be prepared to deal with any of these dangers, depending on where your home is located.
- If you need to evacuate your home, plan to take your cat with you. Never evacuate your home without your pet, even if you believe you will only be gone for a short period of time. Should the situation deteriorate, you will not be granted access to return to your home to retrieve your cat.
- Keep your cat’s carrier handy, where you can access it when you need it. Acclimating your cat to the carrier prior to requiring its use is ideal and will save you time and energy in the event that you need to leave your home quickly. Your cat will also be more comfortable in the carrier if acclimated to it. Your cat should view the carrier as a place of safety not an indication of impending doom.
- Be sure you have some form of identification on your cat. Tags are a good idea. Microchips are useful also. The best solution is to provide both an ID tag and a microchip. Be sure the microchip is registered and supply a cell phone number at which you can always be reached. Include this number on the tag as well. And it never hurts to have a picture of you with your pets on hand… just in case. Placing identification and contact information on the outside of your cat’s carrier is also beneficial.
- Plan ahead and determine where you might go in the event of a hurricane that forces you to evacuate your home. Locate a cat-friendly hotel that is unlikely to be impacted by the hurricane. Or ask a friend or family member outside the evacuation zone to take care of your cat, if necessary.
- Be aware that Red Cross shelters may not be able to accommodate your cat (shelters run by other organizations might so it never hurts to ask). In some cases, an animal care facility may be provided nearby. If so, you will be required to visit daily to care for your cat. You will also be required to show proper identification to enter the facility, so bring your driver’s license or other identification with you.
- Pack an emergency kit and keep it on hand. Your emergency kit should include a copy of your cat’s medical records, including all vaccination records. If your cat requires medication, be sure you have at least enough to last a few days (ideally weeks) packed in your emergency kit. You should pack enough food and bottled water to last for at least a few days as well. Don’t forget food and water bowls, and a litter box plus cat litter. Packing a t-shirt or something else with your scent on it may provide some comfort for your cat while in unfamiliar surroundings. Feliway or a similar pheromone product may be helpful also.
Hopefully, you will never need to put your emergency plan into effect. However, if you do, you will be glad you took time to plan ahead.
Dr. Lorie Huston