When smoke or fire erupts, cats don’t run for an exit. They hide. Thousands die every year, sometimes by accidents caused by them turning on stove burners or knocking over a candle. A solution is to make sure that you are prepared and can act quickly to get them out in such an event.
First, remove stove burner knobs that cats can step on. Don’t leave an unattended candle, fireplace, or stove. Cats are curious.
Second, make sure their vaccines are up to date, that they are microchipped, and that you have a copy of their records. This can be done now through apps like PetDesk and VitusVet. Ask your vet which app they use, so updated information can be shared directly to your phone.
Another thing you can do is leave the carrier open in the room so it becomes more like another playhouse than the trap that brings them to the vet.
Apply stickers to your doors and windows to alert the fire department that you have pets who need rescuing. Write how many pets and what kind you have residing in the home, and where they will be located. This will help firefighters to search for them. You can get window stickers from the ASPCA, or you can find them online and in pet stores. Some people attach photos or note the animal’s color as well, to help rescuers identify who they are looking for.
You may also want to give a neighbor a key and tell the neighbor where your cat’s favorite hiding spots are located, in case the neighbor can get to the house safely before firefighters.
When you are away from home, it is better to keep cats enclosed in a room near an exit so they can be found faster. If you have a closet in that area, make sure it is shut so your kitty doesn’t burrow among all the things stored inside.
If you are home and a fire breaks out, if you have time, wet down a towel and wrap the cat as you pick him up and run out the door. Keep the cat carrier and a small emergency kit near the door that you can easily grab. If you are on the first floor and fire is blocking your way out, let yourselves out through a window.
Kitty will be in fight-or-flight mode, so all claws may be out. Carefully transfer him to the carrier for safety as soon as possible. Keep an old T-shirt or blanket in the carrier so it smells familiar. This will help to reduce stress. Have calming pheromone spray or medallions in the emergency kit to use as well. It is suggested to keep a toy and some treats and two collapsible bowls among the standard wound cleaners and bandages in the emergency bag to help them relax after the ordeal, because you most likely won’t be going back home for a while. If there is time, take the litter box, too, so wherever you go, your pet will have as much that is familiar as possible.
Throughout the ordeal, talk to your cat in a calm, reassuring voice. He’s depending on you to know what to do.
When time counts, being prepared is extremely important. It’s best to locate a pet-friendly hotel or feline- friendly friends now, who will allow your cat to be with you in the event that you must stay somewhere for any length of time.