It is Friday night, or early Saturday morning, depending on how you view 1:00am, and Hurricane Irene is heading up the east coast towards Connecticut. The shoreline is already preparing for evacuation, as this hurricane is promising to be even larger than Hurricane Gloria that hit our state back in 1985.
For those of you with cats and other small pets, you will be happy to know that Congress has passed a new act that allows you to bring pets with you to emergency shelters. This act was passed in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina saw the death and loss and injuries of close to 100,000 pets, as well as many people dead, hurt or stranded as they preferred to stay home with their pets rather than leave for a shelter without them.
As you prepare for the impending storm, please keep your pets in mind.
Evacuation. If you must leave, please take your pets with you. Find a pet-friendly evacuation shelter. If you can’t, please do not leave your pets behind. Find a friend or family member who can care for your pets if possible, or a kennel in a safe area.
Carriers. Keep cats in carriers! Do not leave cats loose if you go to an evacuation center. Cats should be kept in large carriers with food, water and a small litter box. They should have enough room in the carrier to move around a bit. Small dogs can also be kept in carriers. Bigger dogs should be kept on leash at all times! Be a responsible pet owner.
Indoors. Keep cats indoors! Don’t assume that, just because cats have that “aloof” nature that they should be allowed to remain to their own defenses. Keep your cats in the house! Period.
If you must leave. If you can’t be home and you absolutely cannot take your cats, take certain precautions to keep them safe. Place them in a safe location within your residence, such as a bathroom or basement; any room without windows is preferable. Be sure you leave plenty of food and water for several days.
Place a sign in an area where emergecy rescue workers can see it, informing them of the pets inside. Put this in plastic and in an area where it will not get blown away by wind. Place photos of the pets inside, their names and all contact information, including your veterinarian.
Plan ahead: Don’t wait until the last moment to plan for your evacuation. Make arrangements in advance to stay with friends or family, a place where your cats will be welcome and as comfortable as possible. Call your veterinarian if you have any questions.
Items to consider keeping in your cat evacuation kit:
- one to two-week supply of vitamins, food and water
- can opener, bowls and spoons
- gloves or pillowcase for handling cats
- emergency contact list
- bedding, litter, litter boxes and scoops
- bleach, paper towels and garbage bags
- cat toys
- vaccination records
- rabies certificate
- medical conditions and information, including list of prescriptions and dosages
- microchip and tattoo information
- pet registration, adoption and/or purchase documents
- current photos of your animals, including photos of yourself with your animals
- first aid kit