Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The 5 Ps for Emergency Pet Preparedness

We live in South Carolina and during the last five years, we've experienced four hurricanes, an average of fourteen tornadoes per year (23 in one day in April 2020), earthquakes (average of 10-15 per year below magnitude 3, and a 1000-year flood in October 2015. Luckily, none of these events have directly effected us personally, but we need to be prepared with these type of statistics! Are you prepared for both your human family and furry companions in case of an emergency?

Persian cat inside pet carrier

As stated above, living in South Carolina, we have to always be prepared for natural disasters. However, we've seen too many videos and photos of beloved pets who were left behind during evacuations because of natural disasters. We want to share five (5) tips we believe will help prepare you when the need to evacuate your home because of a disaster occurs.

two persian cats with sleepypod
Truffle and Brulee are prepared with their Sleepypod Products 

It's important to plan ahead for an emergency. An emergency can be in the form of a natural disaster, a fire, a health emergency for humans or pets, or even the need to evacuate the house because of pests and treatment.

Proper Identification

Cats should have some type of identification that is up-to-date. Some cats wear collars with appropriate name plates. If your cat is microchipped, make sure the information is kept updated.

Pet Emergency Kit

You can use a special kit designed for traveling with cats, such as the Sleepypod Go Bag or  a large plastic container with a handle and a lid. The emergency kit should include important papers and supplies and be kept in a convenient location where it can be grabbed quickly. Items included should be

  • Basic first aid supplies
  • 3-5 day supply of bottled water
  • 3-5 day supply of your cat's preferred food in an airtight and waterproof container
  • Medication
  • Comfort items, such as blankets and toys
  • Litter box and litter
  • Non-spill food and water dishes
  • Manual can opener, if needed for cans
  • 1-month supply of flea, tick, and heartworm preventative
  • Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)
  • Pet first aid reference book

Persian cats with sleepypod products
Brulee and Truffle with the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed and Go Bag

Pet Carrier

We've talked many times about keeping our pet carriers out in the open so Truffle and Brulee are comfortable with the smell and look of the items. I'll throw some of their favorite catnip toys or treats inside to keep them entertained and comfortable with the carriers so they aren't so stressed when I need to place them in the carrier to leave the house. Whatever type of carrier you choose to use, make sure it's convenient and quick to place your cat inside. Some carriers have pockets on the outside where you can place important medical and identification papers. We use the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Beds. Cats can be loaded from the top in two different locations. The Mobile Pet Bed also serves as a bed, so your cat can travel comfortably. It's also certified by the Center for Pet Safety for pets 15 pounds and under.

Pet Friendly Locations

Don't wait until an emergency to find pet friendly locations where you can stay overnight with your pets. 

PetsWelcome.com has a app where you can type where you are traveling from to the location you are traveling to. Hotels will be shown along your desired route and they are even broken down by dogs and cats and not just pets. It's very important that people check with hotels to make sure they allow cats because many will say pets when they mean dogs. This takes a lot of planning, so make sure to map out your travel route should you need to evacuate. A sad fact is that most emergency shelters do not allow people to take their pets with them, so plans must be made in advance to find locations, such as a boarding facility near a human evacuation shelter. You should also locate a veterinary hospital near a location were you are evacuating. Your veterinarian may be able to provide a trusted location. Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker (Netherton, 2014), a veterinarian states that local municipalities are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to have a place to put pets during emergencies. This is further supported by "The PETS Act (Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006) that requires the director of FEMA to ensure that needs of people with pets are met at the state and local levels prior to, during, and after a major disaster or emergency.

persian kitten on file drawer
Praline on top of portable file cabinet

Important Documents

We mentioned including important papers in your emergency kit. You could also have a portable file case for important documents for both humans and cats. Some documents for cats may include, but not be limited to:

  • Rabies certificate
  • Vaccination Records
  • Medical Summary
  • Prescriptions for medications
  • Recent test results from bloodwork or urinalysis.
  • Photocopied registration information (CFA or TICA registration papers or Adoption records.
  • Recent photographs of your cats with written descriptions (breed, sex, color, weight, special markings) on back. You may consider taking a selfie with each of your pets for easier identification and proof of ownership.
  • Microchip Information
  • Personal contact information (name, address, phone number, email, emergency contact family member or friend)
  • Waterproof container for documents
You may want to consider having a copy of all of these documents on a flash drive that is put in a waterproof container inside our emergency kit.

checklist for emergencies with pets
Graphic credit: CDC 2019

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a PDF checklist that will help with your checklist, especially if you need to board your cat during an emergency. This list is also appropriate if you are evacuating with your cat to a hotel.

We hope you gained some valuable information from this post and can be prepared to make sure your furry companions are taken care of in case of an emergency. Stay safe!

two silver shaded persian cats
Truffle and Brulee are prepared. Are you?

What have you done to prepare for an emergency situation for your cats (pets)?


Behravesh, Casey Barton, MS, DVM, DrPH, DACVPM (June 24, 2019). Pet Project: 5 Ways to Prep Your Pet for EmergenciesCenters for Disease Control and Preventionhttps://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2019/06/pet-prep/

Healthy Pets, Healthy People (August 9, 2018). Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit. Centers for Disease Control and Preventionhttps://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pet-disaster-prep-kit.html

Netherton, Sarah (November 22, 2014)). Natural Disasters: Plan Ahead for Animals' Safety. College of Veterinary Medicine University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignhttps://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet_column/natural-disasters-plan-ahead-animals-safety/

Would you like to comment?

  1. Great tips! Our mom has to check our stuff and see if it's in order.

  2. It sure always pays to be prepared, ya just can't be ready enough!

  3. Excellent post. I have carriers for all my cats, but I need to do more prepping.

  4. Are we prepared? No! The mom better get busy!

  5. My human's disaster preparedness is admittedly a bit patchy - we don't have absolutely everything on the list. We should work on this!

  6. This is a good post; my files for every cat are a bit scattered these days!

  7. Being prepared for an emergency is so important. They pop up out of nowhere and take you by surprise. I have never heard about the PetsWelcome app. That is a really cool service. I will have to check that one out.

  8. Great information - I'm keeping a copy of this post! But I must confess that the last picture of Brulee and Truffle is so perfect in every way that it totally eclipses the text! Two BEAUTIFUL lady cats ... looking at the camera ... perfectly posed. I adore that picture - you really did an exceptional job!

  9. Those are such great tips. We need to check over all of our emergency stuff to make sure it's all in order!

  10. Being fellow Carolinians and having the most organized mom in the world we are equally prepared for what may come. It's a way of life down here, don't you think?

  11. A very thorough summary. I don't imagine people typically think of such things as medical records--though it can be important and even life-saving. Of course, if your veterinarian uses web-based records, like Jasmine's vet did, you can access that any time, any where. I wish more veterinarians got on board with this approach.

  12. Living in San Francisco and earthquake area I am prepared with a earthquake bag with everything plus am fortunate also that our vet has everything online for Layla if necessary. I am so organized LOL there is more for her than me

  13. This is SO important! Far too often pet owners wait until they are in the middle of a crisis to figure out what they need rather than planning ahead.

  14. Our big emergencies come in the winter in the form of being without power and heat. We usually prep our emergency kit in September to prepare

  15. I need one of those go bags. My rolling suitcase just isn’t doing it for me any more. Petswelcome is something I’ll definitely be getting - anyone that travels with cats knows the pain of getting somewhere to discover that they might say they take cats on the website but they really don’t. Argh! I’m always grateful for red roof inn


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