Family with cat

Disaster Planning for Your Feline Family

There isn’t a Canadian around that hasn’t heard about the out-of-control forest fire that ravaged portions of Fort McMurray and Alberta. Are you ready and prepared to handle such a situation?!
How many times have we thought about an emergency/disaster preparedness plan, shrugged our shoulders and dismissed it because “it’ll never happen to us?” Given very little notice, most residents of Fort McMurray barely had time to grab basic necessities for themselves, much less time to run to the garage to grab pet carriers or gather food, water, litter, etc. for their “fur children”. What about the individuals who were at work and didn’t have the opportunity to return home at all? Can you imagine the devastation these pet owners felt when they were forced to leave their pets behind?! It makes my heart ache.

What we saw in the days after evacuation, and continue to see now, is a coordinated effort amongst various individuals, businesses and organizations to rescue and reunite pet owners with their pets. I’ve seen countless Facebook posts where individuals expressed grave concern for their pets and some person, organization or business assisted in the rescue of the beloved pet. I’m choosing to live in blissful ignorance and am assuming that all pets were saved… though we all know that’s unlikely.

So, what can we do in advance as pet owners to prepare ourselves for such a disaster? Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. The key is to have a disaster plan that includes your pet’s needs. The intent of this article is not to point a finger and say Albertan pet owners should have been more prepared. After all, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. But there are things that a pet owner can do to be better prepared. Let’s use what has happened in Alberta as a reminder that it CAN happen to us and let’s start planning!

  • Have a disaster kit prepared for your cat(s) – it should contain food and water, litter box and litter, medications, bowls, bedding, cleanup supplies, leash, medical records, first aid kit and toys. Enough supplies to last a few days. You should be able to grab it and go.

  • Make sure you always have your pet’s carrier handy for a quick exit from the house. It should have your pet’s name, as well as your name and contact information on it. The last thing you want to have to do is use valuable time searching the garage looking for the carrier.

  • Make sure your cat is wearing a collar and identification tag. The tag should also include your cell phone number. Have your cat microchipped. In the event that you and your cat(s) are separated, this will make it easier to be reunited. Be sure the microchip is registered with the manufacturing company and they have your most current information on file. A current photo of your pet would also be very useful should you get separated.

  • Give some thought to where you and your pets will stay if you are evacuated as pets will not be permitted in some areas where other human evacuees are staying. Will you board them at a kennel or with family or friends outside the evacuation zone? Will you stay at a pet friendly hotel?

  • Make plans for your pet in case you aren’t able to make it home. Have the phone number of your pet sitter, neighbour or someone within a short walking distance to your home that has a key handy. Make sure it is someone who is comfortable with your pet and its needs, and your pet is familiar with them. If it becomes impossible for you to return home, you have someone to contact that can get to your home, grab your pet and your pet disaster kit and evacuate the area.

The best way to ensure the safety of your feline family is to plan ahead!
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