Have you ever thought about what you’d do if there were a disaster in your area? Say a tornado, fire, earthquake or tsunami? I live in California near the coast, so we often worry about earthquakes and possible tsunamis from those earthquakes. We also have fires in California and sometimes those get closer to home than my mom would like (her lungs have been irritated by 2 fires here in Southern California since we moved her almost 2 years ago), so we worry about those, also. And have you ever wondered what kind of emergency kit you should have for your cat? Well, I have some suggestions for you! There are some important things you will need to have on hand, some of which can probably be kept in the trunk of your car (like a bag of cat litter … I hear that’s even useful in winter time if your stroller – er, I mean car – gets stuck in the snow). Other things you’ll want to keep inside in one easily accessible spot (like maybe inside, on top of, or next to the cat carrier). My stroller has a trunk underneath it, and mom’s thinking that’s a good spot to keep my supplies in. I tell her it’ll make my gas mileage go down, but she doesn’t pay attention.
Anyway, the basic things you definitely need to have in your cat emergency kit are (p.s. if you’re a dog owner, you can find a dog emergency kit checklist here: http://www.redrover.org/disaster-supplies-dogs):
- Your cat’s carrier, of course. Have a few pillow cases inside, as well. Pillow cases can be useful for carrying your cat around in if your kitty’s having a hard time. Sometimes, in emergencies, we kind of freak out, and pillow cases may be the best way to get us from a home to a car or some other safe location (because we might freak out even more if we see that carrier come out).
- Litter box and litter or puppy pee pads (puppy pee pads are less messy than litter, but it might be worth your time to test one out in your cat’s litter box to make sure s/he will actually use it before you rely solely on those in an emergency situation – they’re definitely lighter and easier to store than litter). Also, there are a number of different types of things you can use for litter boxes. There are cheap temporary litter boxes that you can buy that come pre-filled with litter, but you’ll still want to have extra litter or puppy pee pads. There are also foldable litter boxes that are easily stored. You can also use aluminum roasting pans as litter boxes (they’re light-weight and easy to store, as well).
- Waste bags, like dog waste bags, for used litter.
- Enough dry cat food for one week. Check with your local emergency kit store such as a surplus store; some of them will vacuum pack the food your cat’s used to eating for a small fee. Keeping things as similar as possible during an emergency makes a big difference, so ensuring your kitty can eat the food s/he’s used to can make a big difference …. especially if your kitty is on a special diet. But make sure you rotate the food, so that you don’t find yourself in an emergency situation with overly expired kitty food your cat won’t and/or shouldn’t eat.
- Enough canned food for one week. Make sure to also bring along a can opener. Sometimes those pop-top cans break and you won’t be able to get them open without a can opener. Also, some cats are fed just canned food, so for those kitties, you can skip the dry food supply, but I would recommend adding a few extra cans of cat food just for safety’s sake.
- Enough water for one week. There are a bunch of options for water. You can buy bottled water and rotate them out to ensure they don’t expire. There are also water pouches you can buy at emergency stores (REI comes to mind for these types of water pouches, but you can find them online, too). There are also cans of water, like soda cans only with water that are supposed to have a 50 year shelf life. I know some people worry about the plastic water container thing, so these might be a good option.
- Towels and/or some other form of bedding. Make sure the bedding isn’t too big or cumbersome, though. Remember, you want all of your supplies to fit in one storage bin or cat carrier. If you have more than that, you’re taking too much.
- Any medications your cat may be taking along with labeled bottles and dosage information printed on the label.
- Current copies of veterinary records along with vaccine information in a waterproof container like a Ziploc bag.
- Phone numbers of your veterinarian, relatives and friends (I know you have those in your cell phone, but you should write them down on paper in case something happens to your cell phone). An additional phone number for you to write down is for the Animal Poison Control Center (they may charge money for the phone call, though): 888-426-4465.
- A list of pet friendly hotels not only in your area but also outside of your area. Red Cross Emergency centers often can’t allow pets, so having a backup list of other places to go (like hotels, friends or relatives) can help you keep your kitties with you.
- Have a flashlight with extra batteries and/or emergency glow sticks.
- Instructions for the care of your cat in case you have to leave us with someone else in a pinch.
Some optional items might include:
- Pet first aid book
- Pet first aid kit (you can find these on the internet)
- Toys. If you don’t have room for toys, you know us cats: an empty box, wadded up paper or an empty toilet paper roll work just fine, too. And you can usually find paper and/or empty toilet paper rolls anywhere (in terms of toilet paper rolls, you should have a roll of toilet paper in your own emergency kit, so you can even wad up a bit of toilet paper for us to play with).
- Temporary ID tags in case our original one falls off
- Additional ID tags with additional contact information in case something happens to your cell phone. You can use the phone number of a relative or friend, but be sure to check with them first to make sure they’re ok with being a backup contact person in case of emergency.