I have lived in Tampa Bay long enough to know we are getting into hurricane season in Florida. Every year the subject comes up about what to do, what to get, and where to go if a hurricane is forecast. While all the humans run around getting supplies, what can I do to help?
It is true that even one little cat can be of help when preparing for a disaster. Most humans think we critters have some sort of special sense when it comes to picking up on changing weather patterns — especially serious changes. Some of us have that sense and some of us do not. Some of us are just plain afraid of thunder.
If you're one of the sensitive types, you can provide a first alert. For example, you may be aware of a tornado watch before your people hear about it on the news, and your sensitivity will start to show. You may be more energized, make more noise and rush around the house a little more than usual. If your sensitivity turns to hyper-sensitivity, your people can expect to hear news that the watch has become a warning and they must find cover immediately. The same is true of a hurricane, although you could wear yourself out early on, as an approaching hurricane can take quite some time before it gets to your area.
The simplest and most thoughtful act you can perform for your loved ones is to stay around them. Humans tend to panic when it's time to go for cover and their precious kitty seems to have evaporated into thin air. You know the drill: move calmly, single file, no running. And no loud talking!
It is very important for your people to make a new emergency plan every year. Kids come and go, the condition of your house may have changed, or maybe another critter was added to the fold. Perhaps this is the year of the fish — planning evacuation with a fish is much different than the plan required to evacuate a cat. Every little detail counts, and the time to start making a plan is well before the probability of a hurricane or other natural disaster.
A quick outline of steps your people should follow:
1. Get a rescue-alert sticker.
2. Arrange a safe haven in case you cannot take your pets with you.
3. Purchase and organize emergency supplies and traveling kits.
4. Choose designated caregivers.
5. Prepare for evacuation, and remember to make special considerations for smaller animals.
Tell them to visit aspca.org and look up disaster preparedness for more detailed information. Minimize stress, make your plan and be ready to activate it.