Emergency Kit for Cats
How to prepare to care for your cats in a disaster
Like me, you may never have considered having an emergency kit until you’ve lived through a natural disaster. Having lived at the epicenter of the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989 and being in the eye of a category 5 hurricane on my travels, I’ve realized the importance of having basic necessities at the ready. Forget about cell towers and electricity. We’re talking food, water, sleeping bag, and so on.
Well what about the cats?! Let’s hope and pray we can locate and ‘herd’ our cats to safety in an emergency and, assuming that is possible, we have them around to provide us comfort and vice versa. We have their needs to think of, too, not just those of our human clan.
I can imagine that if my Cliff Bars and bottled water run out, there will be some opportunity (or some blessed organization and volunteers around) to obtain more necessities after a few days of rationing what I’ve set aside. But I don’t believe for a second that my cats can eat, or should be eating, my Cliff Bars. Not only do I think it wise to have food and water set aside strictly for them, but I think it is wise to think through a whole lot else, too.
So, I put together one duffle bag (and have the 3 carriers at the ready) that is strictly for my three cats for three days of emergency living. The carriers have their pockets filled with supplies as well. Here’s what I recommend:
Air-dried raw cat food: My cats readily eat Ziwipeak dehydrated lamb cat food, so replenishing one bag of this regularly in my stash is easy: they eat up the old bag pre-expiration. This food packs a punch: there are a lot of nutrients in a small amount. Read the recommended servings and keep a minimum of three days of food on hand for each cat.
Water: I have enough water to fill their normal water bowl for three days, plus extra water to add to the dried food.
Feeding dishes: I’ve purchased camping gear for dogs! Tiny popup bowls that lay flat in my kit til popped open.
Plastic spoon: need to stir up their meals.
Litter and box: if you have cats use the great outdoors as their main litterbox, how can they continue to do this? Would you let them head out of your car or shelter to do their business? For both indoor and outdoor cats, I strongly recommend packing a litterbox (look for the biodegradable type, i.e. pressed cardboard, that you can easily dispose of) plus one small bag of litter and a clean, unused scooper.
Carriers: I have three of the same carriers, different colors, that are not only airline-approved (i.e. they’re acceptable in the cabin under a seat), but they are also easy to wear as a backpack, roll as a roller, or carry over my shoulder. This way, I figure I can handle all three on my own, if I’m left to do so.
Towel: folded up or spread out, they can share as a mat for sleeping. They might also just use some of my dirty laundry for that (assuming I’m not wearing it all), but a large towel they know and love is packed for their comfort or cleanup as needed.
Paper towels: one roll.
Harness and leash: one for each cat. Harnesses are certainly not their favorite thing in the world. So, long before experiencing any emergency, leave these near where they sleep to help them understand that harnesses are harmless and familiar objects. And, after they’ve gotten used to them, adjust the fit and try them out in times of non-emergency to boost your success rate of using them in a time of crisis.
Toys: ridiculous. I know they won’t be playing, but every time I think I “know” something about them, they teach me something else. Toys are small, I have a few soft toys, a few balls and some string just for them to have some fun, should this be possible.
That’s a great base. They might have far more luxuries at home, as might we all, but this would work until we all found our way back to more creature comforts.
Keep a list of emergency kit contents in your files. When I created my emergency kit for the cats, I wrote down a list of expiration dates of the food and water. I review the list yearly to see what has expired and what is good for another year. That way, there will be no turned-up noses at what I give my cats as we hunker down and wait out the troubled time.