Q. I care for a colony of six cats who are all neutered, vaccinated and eartipped who live about a mile from my home behind a store that lets them live there. A group of us share the feeding responsibilities, and the cats have shelters that we built for them. How can we plan to help the cats if there is a natural disaster? Can we take steps to help them stay safe?
See the Top 10 disaster prep tips for all cats >>
A. Yes, you can take steps to help them stay safe. It’s a great idea to be prepared, and this is the perfect time to create a “disaster plan,” because September is National Preparedness Month.
First, remember that cats have good instincts and have been known to find high ground during floods. In fact, the famous feral cats along the Atlantic City Boardwalk all survived Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. As the historic storm approached, the cats sensed that bad weather was coming and instinctively sought higher ground. They waited to return to their colony sites until after Sandy had passed. All of the boardwalk cats were fine and were found the next day in their colonies, waiting for dinner.
Hear the Atlantic City Boardwalk feral cats’ story here >>
Even though cats are resourceful, there are things you can do ahead of time to ensure their well being:
1. Write descriptions and take photos of all of the cats in your colony. If you need to find a displaced cat after a natural disaster, this documentation will help.
2. Identify a back-up caregiver for the cats in case you are away and can’t get back to the area to care for the cats.
3. Make an emergency contact card for your pets and feral cat colonies in case you are not immediately available. Include all contact information for your substitute caregiver. Carry this card in your wallet and your car, give copies to your backup caregiver, and post it somewhere visible in your home like on the refrigerator.
4. Make a list of local shelters and rescue groups with their contact information. You will need this information in case you need their help or resources.
5. Create an Emergency Supply Kit for your colony with extra food.
Find out more outdoor cat care tips from Becky Robinson >>
Fingers and paws crossed, I hope you never need to carry out your disaster plan. But just in case harsh weather is predicted, take these steps to help keep the cats safe and healthy:
1. Turn all openings for the cats’ shelters and feeding stations away from storm surges or toward higher ground. If possible, move them to slightly higher ground nearby.
2. Fill extra food and water bowls just in case you have to evacuate and can’t return immediately.
3. If you do need to evacuate, do not try to trap and contain feral cats.
Find more details on how to prepare for a disaster and what to do after the disaster has passed.