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Scared dog in crate waiting to be evacuated

Evacuation preparedness and pets

Q: I have friends in California who were ordered to evacuate their homes because of wildfires and flooding. Their situation made me realize that I have no idea what I’d do for my cats if a disaster struck near me. Can you give me some advice?

A: Prepare now, before a disaster hits. Start by putting each cat’s photo and vaccination records in a secure envelope, or use your cell phone to photograph and manage these documents.

If your cats aren’t already microchipped, have your veterinarian chip them so they’ll carry lifetime identification. Store their microchip numbers in your envelope or on your cell phone. Your cats also should wear collars with identification tags.

If you have to evacuate, each cat will need a carrier labeled with your name and contact information. Line the floor of each carrier with a towel and, when the time comes, spray the towel and carrier with Feliway, the feline facial pheromone that promotes feelings of security and relaxation. This preparation won’t be wasted, because you’ll use the carriers each time you take your cats to their veterinarian.

Store a two-week supply of food, medicines, litter and other essentials in a tote bag you can quickly grab if you’re ordered to evacuate.

Decide before an emergency where you’ll relocate, and stow an up-to-date list of pet-friendly motels in your tote bag.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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