THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE,
WHERE'S THE CAT?
By Nancy Marano
Whether it's wildfires in New Mexico, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast or a fire in your home, disaster scenarios are too familiar. Do you have an emergency disaster plan in case you must evacuate quickly? When making your plan, don't forget your cat is a member of your family, too, and the safest place it can be in an emergency is with you. It should not be left alone outside or at your home.
It's crucial your cat have identification. The easiest way to do this is for your cat to wear a collar with an identification tag on it. Each of your cats also needs its own carrier, with identification tags attached, for safe transportation.
Put emergency supplies into an easily carried container, such as a duffel bag, and store the container in an accessible location so you can pick it up on your way out the door. According to the Humane Society of the United States, your cat emergency kit should include:
• An extra collar, leash, harness and temporary identification tag.
• Cat's medical record, special medications, your vet's name and phone number, current photos of you and your cat and information on medical or behavior problems stowed in a plastic bag or similar waterproof container.
• Stocked first aid kit.
• One week's supply of food per cat, manual can opener, lightweight food and water dishes, cat litter and pan.
• Favorite toy and bed if easily transported.
In addition to equipping an emergency supply kit there are other ways to plan ahead for an emergency.
• List hotels and motels in the area that will allow animals and keep the list with your other supplies.
• Check whether friends or relatives outside your area would care for your cat.
• Find out if local animal shelters will house your cat temporarily.
If you have advance warning, make shelter arrangements for you and your pets, check your supplies and bring cats into the house so you will be able to locate them quickly. Sometimes animals react strangely under stress. They may panic, try to run away, scratch or bite. Confine them to an area where they cannot get away. Try to reassure them and, when you return home, allow them to settle back into their routines slowly.
When disaster strikes, you don't have time to figure out what to take with you, where the cat carrier is or how to get Muffin out from under the bed. But, with some advance planning all you have to do is pick up your pre-packed emergency kit and leave. Of course, in your hurry, don't forget to pick up Muffin, too.
Editor's Note: Although this article focuses on cats, it's important to make emergency plans for all your pets.
Nancy Marano is a freelance writer living in Albuquerque.
Note: This article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 1999 issue.
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