Don’t Let a Disaster Turn into a Cat-astrophe!


How Disaster Ready Are You And Your Cats?

We live in a dangerous world: Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, bush fires, floods.

We’re talking ‘natural disasters’ and that don’t mean a bad hair day, but potentially life-threatening events when you need to evacuate in a hurry. For the health of your fur-friend, be a well-prepared cat guardian and have a plan in place so that a natural disaster doesn’t turn into a cat-astrophe.


Basic Training for Cats

Imagine this scenario:

A bush fire is sweeping through the neighborhood and you’re house is in its path. You pack a bag, throw it in the car and dash back inside for the cat. But the cat is nowhere to be seen. You waste precious time searching high and low. Eventually you find the cat under a bed, entice her out, only to have her freak out when you try to put her in the cat carrier.

How much time would you save if the cat was used to coming on command and walked happily straight into the cat carrier?

This isn’t some delusional fantasy, but can be reality when you take a little time to train your cat to obey a few basic commands. Ideally you’d have her comfortable with:

  • Coming to her name or responding to a whistle (a great idea so she can hear you over the sound of sirens or alarms.)
  • Wear a harness
  • Use a litter box
  • Be content in a carrier

Teaching recall to a cat isn’t as bonkers as it sounds. Simply call her name or blow the whistle (gently at first!) when she happens to be walking towards you. Then reward her with a treat or a fuss. This works great at mealtimes when you give her supper to reward her walking toward you.

Likewise, it’s not difficult to encourage a cat to be happy with her carrier. Simply leave the basket in a quiet corner of the room and make it super tempting to visit. Put a comfy bed inside and if necessary leave the top off to make it less intimidating. Regularly scatter treats inside so the cat gets used to strolling over to see what tasty morsel has appeared since last time. Once she’s happily checking things out, and then pop the lid on (but without the door). You’ll know you’ve succeeded when she opts to sleep inside.

Another sensible solution is to teach your cat to be happy confined to one room. This is a boon when you’re worried a high wind or violent storm may startle the cat. By having her in one place in the house, you’ve a better chance of finding her if the worst does happen.


Cat Evacuation Drill 

Don’t put yourself in the position of evacuating the cat for the first time during a real-life emergency. Practice, and stage evacuation drills in the same way a school or workplace hold fire drills. This will draw those little glitches to your attention, such as “Where is the cat basket?” so they can be safely solved.

In the event of a real threat, as soon as you get word extreme weather is moving in, settle the cat in one room. Also, if evacuation is more “when” rather than “if”, get going early. Move out a day early ahead of the main exodus, so there’s more chance of finding a cat-friendly sanctuary to wait it out.


Get Up and Go: Survival Kit

Part of preparedness is keeping a survival kit bagged up, ready, and waiting to go.  What you put in that kit depends on your cat but some suggestions are:

  • Food, water, and a feeding bowl
  • Cat litter, tray, and poop bags
  • A reasonable supply of any medication the cat requires
  • A copy of your pet’s medical records
  • The cat’s vaccination certificate (in case proof is needed at a cattery)
  • Harness and leash
  • Basic pet first aid kit

Keep these items together in one place, so they can be picked up for a super-speedy getaway.


Planning Ahead 

Making a getaway is one thing, but where will you go?

The canny cat guardian realizes every other pet owner is in the same predicament and so plans to get ahead of the pack. This means knowing where you’ll head well in advance.

Now is the time to do some research and find pet-friendly hotels or accommodation where cats are welcome. Or, locate a cattery in a different neighborhood (so they won’t be affected by the same disaster) or a vet that will board cats. Alternatively, approach family members or friends, and sound out how they’d feel about having your and a fur-friend to stay.

Before there’s even a sniff of a bush fire, establish contact with that accommodation and build a relationship with them. When pressure for places is high, many businesses give priority to existing clients and loyal customers who keep coming back.

Other practical considerations include having the cat microchipped so she has a permanent means of identification should she run off in a fright. Likewise, make sure all her vaccinations are kept up to date and you have a certificate to prove it, since any cattery worth their salt won’t take unvaccinated cats.

And finally, bear in mind that no-one expects the unexpected, but as a cat guardian you need to ensure you have everything in place to keep your fur-friend safe when and if the worst does happen.