Weather Disaster Plan for Your Cat

Atlanta gets its fair share of tornadoes and storms. When you have to collect the family and head for the basement or high ground, it’s best to have prepared totes for your pets, to take along at a moment’s notice. 

Planning ahead of time
Where can you take your cat if you have to leave your home?  Get permissions from friends or relatives in advance. Learn which cat-friendly hotels are in your area. Find out from your vet if there are any contingency plans they recommend.

It’s important to make sure your cat stays current on vaccinations. Almost every place, including some emergency shelters, wants a certificate of proof of rabies vaccination.

Get out your phone and add emergency contact numbers for friends, relatives, emergency shelters, motels, your vet, and your cat’s microchip company. Include photos of the veterinary certificates and photos of you with your cat, so you can show others in case your cat gets lost, or if you have to prove your relationship. Then make hard copies of everything to keep in a watertight container in the tote.

Also, prepare a Plan B. Give a neighbor or relative a key to your house, to rescue your pets if you’re not home at the time. 

The ASPCA offers free emergency animal rescue stickers for your home to help resscuers locate pets who may be trapped or stranded in the event of a disaster. If you leave during the storm, take your pets with you and write ‘Evacuated’ on the sticker.

ID is Essential!
Make sure your cat is microchipped, and your information has been updated. Your cat should be wearing a collar with ID and rabies vaccination tags, in case you get separated. 

Basic Pet Tote
Keep a ready-to-go cat tote and cat carrier in the safest room of your home where you plan to weather the storm, or else beside the door to take with you at a moment’s notice. Include:

  • A harness and leash for handling outside of the carrier
  • Food and bottled water for a couple of days. Single servings work best.
  • 2 Bowls
  • Litter box (preferably collapsible or with a lid), small bags of litter, or pee pads. One trick is to use a Tupperware-style low, wide plastic container with a tight lid. 
  • Scooper, paper towels,some trash bags and pet-safe wet wipes, gloves
  • Cozy blanket for the carrier
  • Towel to dry your cat, or to use as someplace comfortable to lay on during procedures, or to put over the carrier to help calm your cat if you end up in a noisy, busy sheltering place.
  • Medical kit. The basics are nail clipper, tweezers, pet wound ointment or spray, gauze, scissors, sticky wrap bandages, eye wash and a calming aid. You can download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid app to your phone to help you know what to do, and you can get ready-made emergency kits at pet and farm stores.
  • Two things people often forget: a lantern/flashlight and reading glasses. These can also come in handy when you have to inspect a pet injury. 

When to Go, When to Stay
Don’t wait until the last minute to leave, if you have a chance to go somewhere safer. It’s best to put your cat in the carrier as soon as you know you need to take some kind of action, instead of waiting until the last minute and having to search for a frightened cat under the furniture.

Download the FEMA mobile app to your phone to get the latest local storm information. 

Make sure to bring your purse, wallet, keys, phone and everyone’s Rx medications with you, even if you are just running to your safest part of the house to ride out the storm. The rest of the house could blow apart in a tornado. Lives have actually been saved by everyone piling into the tub with a mattress for cover. 

Please never leave your pets behind, expecting them to take care of themselves. Their safest place is always with you. Try to stay calm and positive. Our pets absorb emotions and they will do much better if they see you responding without fear. Tell her it’s going to be OK. 

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.