Most of us suffer from "it won't happen to me" syndrome. You hear it on every TV news report. "I never imagined this would happen here" or "He was such a nice cat who kept to himself." Okay, well maybe not that last one, but you get the point. After seeing wildfires jumping freeways in LA, tornadoes ripping their way across Tennessee, and hurricanes blasting Florida beaches, we're here to tell you that you're better off being prepared.
Below is the Kitty Help Desk evacuation kit - everything we think you'll need in the event you need to bug out quickly with your feline friends. We recommend that you get a plastic storage bin and have this kit ready to go at a moment's notice. You'll be glad that you did.
- Food & Water - It may go without saying, but you need to make sure you pack at least two weeks' worth of food and water along with some stainless steel bowls. Make sure the food doesn't expire by rotating the portions you keep in your kit every few months.
- Medications - Whatever medications you normally administer to your cats, you need to make sure you pack a two week supply in your kit. Check it frequently to make sure it doesn't expire before you use it.
- Litter & Litter Box - While there are some small, collapsible travel litter boxes out there, we recommend bringing along a duplicate of your cat's favorite box along with the usual litter. Change will not be welcomed in the midst of the chaos of an evacuation, so anything that reminds a cat of home will be helpful in maintaining their sanity and your own. Also, don't forget a litter scoop, paper towels, and some small trash bags.
- Carriers - You need one carrier per cat. Soft sided carriers work well and collapse so you can store them easily. Even cardboard carriers will do in a pinch.
- Harness & Leash - This is optional, but it can be a godsend if you need to let a crying cat out of his or her carrier for a bit just to visit the litter box or blow off steam. Do harness training now and reap the rewards later.
- Familiar Smells - Cats love their home territory and they generally dislike leaving it. Bring a little bit of home with you when you bug out by including a blanket that has familiar scents. This probably wouldn't get packed in advance, but would be something you'd grab at the last minute.
- Nail Clippers - No matter what's going on out in the world, those cat nails will continue to grow. Make sure you're prepared to keep them trimmed.
- Brush - All daily brushing rituals should continue. They will help to calm your cats and they'll remove excess hair that could result in hairballs.
- Scratching Surface - Cats have to scratch in order to shed their nail sheaths. Make it easier on them (and the furniture wherever you're staying) by providing a solution. Corrugated cardboard scratchers work very well and are portable.
- Vaccination Records - In the event you need to see a new veterinarian or have to seek refuge in an emergency shelter, you may need to provide vaccination records. Make sure you have paperwork showing your pets' most recent vaccinations and/or titers.
- Printed Pictures - Sometimes a new situation will frighten a cat and the worst will happen - he or she will escape. Be prepared with a couple of printed pictures of your feline friends that you can show around in the event they get lost.
- ID - Make sure every cat has a collar with a current phone number. We recommend Safe Cat collars with embroidered names and numbers. You may also want to make sure your cats are microchipped and that your own ID info is up to date.
- Emergency Contacts - In this day of smart phones, most of us can hardly remember our own phone numbers, let alone someone else's. Be sure to print out phone numbers for your veterinarian and any other folks you might need when your phone battery dies.
These are just some ideas to get you started. You know your feline friends better than anyone. Think about what might comfort them, and you, if you had to leave your home unexpectedly. Make plans now so that when an emergency happens you don't have to cover all your bases at once. There's often a very short lead time for evacuation orders. Be ready!