Your Pets and Emergencies

David Trammel's picture

With it heading into Winter, its time to ask, "Are your pets prepared for an emergency?"

People put a lot of thought into preparing for an emergency but then think, "I'll just be able to put Rover into the car and go..."

You can but then you may not like the result. I know your pet won't. Just like small children, pets can sense the rising stress level of an emergency without understanding what is going on. This can lead to unpredictable behavior and the last thing you want to be dealing with in an emergency is a lost pet who bolted and ran.

One of the most important things you can own, if you have a pet is a collapsible dog crate. This goes for cats as well. Having them secure and easily handled can save their lives. And the crate shouldn't be folded up for storage either. It should be out and actively used. Most people cringe at the idea of locking their pets up, they are family BUT having a place they feel safe in and which they use on a regular basis is essential.

AND, crates should not be used only for punishment. If an animal associates the crate with BAD, then they are less likely to allow you to put them in it during an emergency. The crate should be someplace that includes it in the family setting. You should leave the door open, make the inside inviting and someplace the animal likes to lay in.

In addition, the crate or more specifically the area on top of it, can be a place to store important items you will need in an emergency for them. An extra set of leashes and collars. Bowls and a supply of food. A cold weather coat and extra blanket. Some toys and treats. Get a plastic tote and put everything inside of it, then place it on the top will save you time should you need to react in an emergency situation.

Don't forget records, especially vaccination records. Most hotels or emergency shelters will not let your pet inside without proof they are up to date on their shots. Make copies and put a second folder in the tote with their records, photos of them and importantly YOUR contact information. A photo of you with the pet can let a rescuer be sure that the animal is yours. In an emergency you may be separated from your pet. Having documentation that you can give to the person who takes your animal for safe keeping may be the one thing that gets them back to you.

Here is the link to "FEMA's Checklist for Pets for Disasters"

While I think I have their food ready for an emergency and I have carriers for both cats, one is very tolerant and the other isn't, I still have to come up with some way for them to be contained and still used their litter box. I almost think I need one larger crate for them to hide in that is connected to the one with the litter box. Maybe I can work something out with the large folding dog crates. Cats really hate this kind of thing.

kma's picture

We've got one cat. We've never needed to take him anywhere other than the vet but this is good to think about. I do have a medium sized dog crate we use for that so he can sit up fully.

My mom used to read a set of mystery novels where a guy used to travel around with his cat and solve mysteries (stay with me...). His travel litter box was a big roasting pan with a lid. It occurs to me that this might work and this might be findable in a thrift shop.

That sounds like a really great idea. Did the novel describe how he would house his cat when he was in a new place with the cat?

kma's picture

I'll have to ask my Mom about the books. I can't remember anything else she told me about them other than that roasting pan!

Some cats can be taught to walk on a leash. Or rather, they tolerate the harness and meander all over the place.
They won't walk like dogs. They amble. They sit down. They sniff and investigate. They look at you, at the other end of the leash, with open contempt.

You need to acclimate kitty to the harness.
If you can teach your cat this, then they may be willing to use the great outdoors as a litter box. You stop at regular intervals just like a dog. I'd still add the roasting pan of kitty litter. That's a great idea!

Well, I tried that. When the older cat, a small calico female, was quite young, I tried a harness on her and was treated to the most amazing leaping, twisting, cat gymnastics I have ever seen. She was out of the harness in just a few seconds. I was afraid she would dislocate something, her gyrations were so violent. Naturally, I haven't tried it since and we will just have to put up with the pitiful cries when she is confined in a carrier.

My pets are geckos and woodlice, so I've got a slightly different set of problems. The woodlice can be left for a week or two with no care with no ill effects. The geckos need heat, so I have disposable handwarmers and some cloth drawstring bags to put them in to make the heat gentler if a cold gecko decides to sit right on top of it all day. I also have a divided in two plastic habitat with Banana Dragon's powdered food, a travel water spritzer, foil blanket, food dish etc. Each gecko gets one side. Tarzan eats live crickets, and refuses anything else, so the container of live crickets would have to come to. If there are problems obtaining more, at least his species stores some fat in the tail, and he should survive a week without food without serious problems. My landlady has agreed I'm with her in her car if we ever need to evacuate.