Pet preparedness: How to keep your cat safe during a disaster or emergency

ByJanell Harris KGO logo
Thursday, July 25, 2019
How to keep your cat safe during a disaster or emergency
Are you prepared to care for your pets during an emergency? If you don't have a disaster plan that includes your furry family, it is time to get started.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Are you prepared to take care of your pets during an emergency?

Earthquakes, floods and other disasters can strike without warning. Being prepared ahead of time can reduce stress, save time, and possibly save lives - including your pets.

We turned to Cat Behavior Consultant, Daniel Quagliozzi and San Francisco Animal Care & Control for tips on how to make sure you and your pets are prepared to evacuate, if necessary.

RELATED: Feline-friendly tips: How to get your cat into a cat carrier

Identify Your Pet

During the stress of an emergency, it is easy for pets to get lost. A collar and ID tag, including your phone number, can provide immediate identification. Since collars can come off easily, especially on cats, getting your cat microchipped is the best form of permanent identification. It is your responsibility to keep the information current. So make sure to double check that you are listed as the contact, not the organization where you got your cat.

Carrier Train Your Pet

Get your pet used to being in the carrier. If you need to evacuate, or even head to the vet, a cat will very likely run and hide. Try leaving the carrier out in your home like a regular piece of furniture so your kitty will get used to it. Next, place treats and toys in the carrier to encourage your them to go inside. You can even feed your cat a few of their regular meals while inside the carrier to reinforce a positive connection. Lastly, practice your evacuation plan with a 'kitty fire drill'.

Some carriers are specifically designed for emergencies. The Evacsak is an emergency carrier designed for small animals. The larger opening can make it easier to get cats inside. It also has shoulder strap that allows your hands to remain free...always useful to open doors and carry more items.

RELATED: Prepare NorCal: Disaster Preparedness Resources

Prepare a Disaster Kit for Your Pet

Store your pet's disaster kit along with yours.

Here are the items recommended by San Francisco Animal Care & Control:

  • Bottled water for 7 days for each animal and bowls.
  • Your pet's regular food (at least a 7-day supply for each animal).
  • Portable carrier or crate.
  • A copy of your pet's vaccine history and medical records for chronic conditions.
  • Your pet's medication and a copy of the prescription.
  • Recent photos of your pet (especially with you in the picture).
  • Litter boxes and litter.
  • Fresh bedding for small animals.
  • A leash and collar (dogs) or harness (cats); extra ID tags.
  • Plastic bags for litter disposal/dog cleanup.
  • A manual can opener and plastic lid for canned food.
  • Phone numbers and locations of your vet, the local emergency clinic, and your local shelter.
  • Phone numbers for your emergency contacts, relatives, and friends.
  • Extra blankets, paper towels.
  • A pet first aid kit with large and small bandages, scissors, tweezers, Q-tips, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, elastic tape, eyewash, ear cleaning solutions, and K-Y jelly.
  • A supply of cash to pay for emergency boarding.
  • If you have room, include chew toys, special treats, blankets, bedding, and other items that your pet loves. If your pet can play or stay with something familiar, she or he could feel more relaxed during an emergency.

RELATED: Have you checked your earthquake kit lately?

Evacuation Tips

If it's not safe for you, it isn't safe for them. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if at all possible. Whatever happens, do not leave them inside a carrier, in an evacuated home. They stand a better chance of surviving if they can move around.

During an emergency, temporary public shelters may not allow animals inside. Have a list of backup arrangements, such as family, friends, hotels that allow pets, boarding facilities, veterinarians and/or shelters.