Disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, flash floods, earthquakes, etc.) many times strike suddenly with little or no warning (particularly with tornadoes) and can be far worse than you anticipate.
Hopefully you have an emergency plan for you, your family and your pet(s). It is vital for all of you that you have a plan. All of your lives could be saved because you cared enough and took the time to be ready for a disaster. Each area has its own natural disaster threats. Some areas have hurricanes whereas others have earthquakes, flooding, tornadoes, etc. Your emergency plan should fit your area. We live in a tornado alley. Our disaster plan involves underground shelter for safety. Someone in an area that is prone to earthquakes or massive flooding (as with hurricanes) would never set up their shelter area underground. We took weather spotter training and joined our county’s E.M.A. We are State-certified weather spotters. We take all weather watches and warnings very seriously. The belief that “It never has happened here, and therefore never will” is totally wrong.
A disaster can happen at any time, anywhere. You need to be prepared. Once a disaster occurs, say a violent tornado is spotted in your county, you’ll barely have time to reach shelter–forget assembling any supplies at that time. you usually only have a few minutes, if you are lucky. If you have an emergency supply bag ready to grab and have a designated shelter area close-by for you, your family and your pet(s), you have a much better chance of surviving.
If an evacuation order has been given, don’t delay; leave immediately. Since county shelters many times won’t allow pets, choose a shelter destination in a safe area with a family member or friend. (Sometimes local veterinarians, Human Societies, and ASPCA outlets can provide shelter for your pets.) Have this all figured out and arranged ahead of time. When a disaster occurs is not the time to do this. Oftentimes panic can overcome you and you won’t be able to operate efficiently and quickly. If your shelter area (for your family and pet(s)) is ready and filled with necessary supplies, like food (human and pet), water, etc., all you have to do is to be sure everyone gets there quickly. Have emergency drills so that everyone has no doubts or questions about what to do. Since we deal with cats, get your cat used to entering her carrier quickly and without a fuss.
To familiarize your cat with a cat carrier, do as we do. We simply leave some carriers out with their gates fastened open. A nice, soft bed is placed in the carrier, then the carrier is placed in a spot our cats like. It’s not long before someone moves into the carrier for a nice nap. The carrier is now a safe haven with nothing to fear. We sometimes place some treats or catnip in the carrier to make it more desirable. Most cats respond well to this and when the time comes to use the carrier to transport a cat, there is no problem. The cat will enter the carrier without a fight.
Keep one or more carriers with your emergency supply bag. We suggest one carrier per pet (for cats in particular). You can’t know ahead of time how long you’ll have to confine your pet. More than one pet per carrier will make it too crowded and uncomfortable.
If you don’t use a carrier, train her to go down to your shelter area. We have a weather alert radio and when it goes off, our cats know they will be going down into our storm cellar. We cheat! We always use treats they like. When they get into the storm cellar, they discover all these delightful treats. We always use a different type of treat each time. This sparks their curiosity. Since they only have occasional access to the storm cellar, it in itself draws them. We allow them in our storm cellar occasionally when there aren’t any weather problems. At these times, the treats aren’t there, only when storms are imminent. Since we live in a rural farm area, mice occasionally get into our storm cellar. Naturally, this helps pique the interest in all of our cats.
Our storm cellar is equipped with soft beds for each cat, litter pans, and during storm alerts fresh water, plenty of dry food and of course, treats (like pieces of bacon, chicken, canned or bagged treats, catnip, small hamburger meatballs, etc.).
The emergency bag you have ready at all times for yourself and your human family should contain bottled water, nonperishable food (sealed bag of dry and/or cans, dry-frozen foods with a shelf life of twenty-five years or more such as supplied by Wise Foods at www.wisefoodstorage.com), non-refrigerated prescription medications, a full change of clothing, important papers (to prove your identity, in particular), etc.–items you’ll need in order to survive, if rescue teams can’t reach you for, say, three days. We always keep our storm cellar fully stocked for both of us and our cats. Your local E.M.A. can give you very complete brochures with checklists on what to stock in your emergency-ready bag and shelter.
Be aware that disasters can strike while you’re away from home. Ask trusted friends to care for your pet(s) in your absence. You can do the same for your friends’ pets. Make sure a house key is available and that they know the location of your pet(s)’s emergency kit, and your pet’s favorite hiding places. Be sure your friends and pets are acquainted–if your pet doesn’t know them, it could be next to impossible to catch them.
Having your pet micro-chipped could prove invaluable in case the pet should run off in fear.
The emergency kit for your cat should contain:
- 1 carrier per pet
- Two week supply of bottled water–watch the expiration dates
- Two week supply of her regular food(s), dry and/or canned–watch the expiration dates
- Can opener (if necessary)
- Dishes for the food and water–disposable Styrofoam solves any worries about cleanup
- Litter box
- Litter scoop and a bag or container for the used litter
- Refill container of kitty litter
- Cleaning supplies–including paper towels, wash water, soap, and a bucket
- A soft bed
- Leash and harness or collar
- Pet first aid book (remember, e-books require power that might run out)
- Any regularly administered prescription medications–insulin, current antibiotics, etc. and directions
- Copy of your pet medical records
- Photo of your pet in case she becomes lost, including some of you together to prove ownership
- Name and phone number of your veterinarian
- Disposable gloves
NEVER ABANDON YOUR PET.
It if is not safe for you, it won’t be safe for your pet, either. Leaving your pet with a three-to-five days’ supply of food and water just is not adequate. If the home survives the disaster, the area surrounding your home may be so devastated and/or flooded that no rescue groups can enter for possibly even several weeks. Drinking flood waters is also lethal. Chemicals and other pollutants are in that water. If your pet gets out–say a tree crashes into your house and creates an access path to the outside–your pet will be very frightened. Nothing will look or smell the same. The pet will probably not be able to orient on where home is. Cats run and hide when frightened. The food sources will be gone. Your pet may never be found! Due to the increase of dangers (drowning, electrocution from downed power lines, collapsing structures, dislocated predatory animals like coyotes, etc. and so on), your pet very likely might not survive a major disaster. Why risk this? Take your pet(s) with you. You’d take your children, why would your pet, a member of your family, rate differently?
EMERGENCY CAT CARE
Whenever possible, when an accident or emergency occurs, take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible. If there is a delay in time, here are a few things you need to know.
If your cat is bleeding, unless it is heavy bleeding, it will stop on its own. If it is heavy bleeding you will need to apply a pressure bandage. In case of extreme bleeding, a tourniquet is needed. It’s wiser to leave this to your veterinarian, unless the veterinarian can give you specific directions on how to do this.
A pressure bandage stops the flow of blood at the wound site and is used when the bleeding is not too severe.
Apply a cold-water compress onto the wound and then put on a pressure bandage of gauze and fasten with a roll of non-stick bandage, tape, or a strip of torn cloth. The main point of bleeding will be where you cat is licking.
Note: never use a pin to fasten anything on a cat. Use only self-stick bandaging, tape, or a torn strip of cloth.
Your cat has fallen from a high place, been hit by a car, some heavy item has fallen on your cat, or some other traumatic injury has occurred. You need to take steps to help your cat from going into shock or to minimize the effects of shock.
Cover your cat lightly, keep her warm, talk to her soothingly and do not rush. Lift her slowly and as carefully as possible so as not to cause more injury, place her in a small carrier or container, and take her to your veterinarian immediately. Only a veterinarian can treat these injuries. Don’t try to splint a broken leg. Cats DO NOT TOLERATE being handled when they are in pain. Always move slowly, and speak soothingly and softly when you try to move an injured cat. It is best to wrap them in a towel or a small throw rug. This will protect you from receiving any bites or scratches. Even the most gentle cat can lash out when in pain and frightened. Just try not to cause more injury when you move your cat. You just need to get her to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If the burn is a superficial one, the affected area will turn red and could blister slightly. With more serious burns, the skin turns white and the hairs are easily removed when pulled.
For minor burns, apply cold water or an ice pack immediately to the affected area for about twenty minutes. Have your veterinarian assess the burn–even a minor burn. For serious burns, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.
This one is particularly important in times of disaster. Power lines come down and are live. Cats don’t understand the danger. If your cat gets loose outside during a disaster situation, this becomes a very immediate danger for her.
First thing, do not touch your cat if she has been electrocuted until the power is totally off. Check for a heartbeat. If your cat is still alive but is unconscious, rush her to your veterinarian. Never attempt to resuscitate her yourself. It is very unlikely that you cat would survive an encounter with a downed power line. Even for minor electrical shock (say your cat bites an electrical cord and is still conscious) there could be serious burns on her tongue or in her mouth. Take your cat to your veterinarian immediately.