Although community cats will naturally search for shelter during a disaster, they are still vulnerable to severe weather and other emergencies. Luckily, there are still lots of things you can do to help them ride out severe weather and other natural disasters.
First, create a list of all the cats in your colony. Include updated information as well as descriptions and photos. This will help you relocate any missing cats and determine if any are being cared for in shelters or by other rescue groups. Keep contact information for the local shelters and rescue groups handy so you can easily communicate with them in the event of an emergency. Find someone who will act as the back-up caretaker if you are absent, and put their contact information in your wallet, as well as post it in a visible place in your home.
Take precautionary measures by securing or removing objects in or around the colony that could fall, become airborne, or otherwise potentially injury the cats during a disaster. If you are concerned about flooding, move shelters and feeding stations to higher grounds. Wooden shipping pallets, found in lumber yards or home improvement stores, can be used to do this. Tie shelters and feeders to sturdy structures, such as a fence or a tree, to anchor them. Take caution when placing heaving objects like bricks or rocks on top of shelters as they could be dangerous in strong winds.
If there is the possibility of heavy rain, cover the shelters and feeding stations with tarps. Tie the tarps at an angle, and either hammer stakes into the ground or tie the tarps to a permanent structure to secure them. In case a caretaker is not able to return soon, leave extra dry food in covered feeding stations and inside the shelter, far away from the openings. If appropriate, lay some straw inside the shelters for additional warmth. Do NOT use hay, blankets, or towels on the floor of the shelter! Hay can become moldy and blankets/towels will actually pull heat away from the cats' bodies.
To help you prepare, store portable shelters, litter boxes, food, and water in a nearby garage or other covered structure. Also keep extra food, bottled water, batters, and flashlights easily accessible. If you are aware that a disaster is imminent, try to trap the friendly cats and kittens and take them to a safe place. Don’t attempt to trap or contain feral cats.
Although unlikely, it’s always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Taking the time to prepare and disaster-proof your cat colony will give you peace of mind as well as help keep the cats safe in an emergency.
October 7, 2019 - Dozens of cat advocates streamed into a public hearing in Los Angeles on Monday to express their concerns over the City’s proposed plan to begin supporting TNR activities again after more than a decade of frustration. The city was forced to stop supporting TNR by a Court injunction in 2005, and ordered to produce an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The good news is that the City’s Draft EIR states that it wants to return to a policy where, “TNR is the preferred method of dealing with the free-roaming cat population.” Unfortunately, as Alley Cat Welfare’s Dale Bartlett testified, the proposed plan includes elements designed to protect the city’s Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) that would make TNR practically impossible in certain locations.
The city has proposed a feeding ban in all Environmentally Sensitive Areas and a one-mile buffer zone around the areas. In those areas, which comprise a huge portion of the city, feeding would only be allowed as bait inside traps, limited to 30 minute increments, would be required to be monitored at all times, and could only occur during limited daytime hours when many cat advocates are busy at their day jobs. The restrictions are far too stringent and would make the trapping of free roaming cats who live in or near an ESA impossible. As a practical matter, regularly scheduled feeding prior to trapping is necessary in order to acclimatize cats to the feeding schedules which eventually lead them to enter traps. Thus, limiting feeding to the baiting of traps will lead to fewer cats captured, which is clearly not the desired outcome.
ACR asked the city to remove ESA’s from the proposal, and our comments were echoed by other leading local and national TNR supporters. We were the only group to suggest that, if for legal or political reasons the city remains insistent on keeping the ESAs in the proposal, they should at least amend the language in their proposal to allow feeding when it is a necessary component of an active TNR effort, rather than restricting feeding to the actual baiting of traps. As we explained to the City’s representatives, “Efforts to manage any free roaming colonies that exist inside or adjacent to any Environmentally Sensitive Area should be prioritized and certainly shouldn’t be hamstrung by well-intentioned restrictions.”
The deadline for written comments on the City’s proposed program is October 28, 2019. We need all cat advocates to email the head of the program and tell them that you strongly support the return of TNR to Los Angeles, but with the removal of ESA’s from the proposed program. Please send your comments by October 28 to:
Dr. Jan Green Rebstock
firstname.lastname@example.org and please cc: email@example.com
Additionally, please feel free to use the template below:
Subject: Reintroduce TNR to Los Angeles; Remove ESA restrictions
Dear Dr. Jan Green Rebstock,
I strongly support the reintroduction of TNR into the Los Angeles community and the humane reduction of the city’s population of feral cats. Communities throughout the country have shown that TNR programs result in fewer cats entering and being euthanized in shelters, fewer cats on the streets, and a decrease in neighborhood complaints. However, these programs are only successful when they are allowed to operate freely and without unnecessary restrictions.
Unfortunately, the proposed Citywide Cat Program currently includes a feeding ban in Environmentally Sensitive Areas and a one-mile buffer zone around these areas. These areas comprise a significant portion of the city, and the proposed restrictions on feeding within these areas would make trapping feral cats living there nearly impossible. Failing to trap cats living in these areas would prevent them from being spayed or neutered, leaving them to breed indiscriminately and continuing to add to the feral cat population. Therefore, in order to establish a robust and successful TNR program in Los Angeles, I respectfully request for the removal of Environmentally Sensitive Areas and the related exclusion zones from the proposal.
Please support the reintroduction of TNR in Los Angeles in all capacities and ensure that the program is designed for successful management of community cats throughout the entire city and without unnecessary restrictions.
[Your city, state, zip]
[Your email address]
For more information on the proposed program, including the 1400+ page Environmental Impact Report, click here.
Study Sheds New Light on CatsRead Now
While cats have earned a reputation for being standoffish and aloof, a new study shows that our feline friends are more attached to their owners than previously thought. According to researchers at the University of Oregon, cats can form bonds with their owners similar to those formed by dogs and even infants. The study found that when cats live with a caretaker, the majority of them turn to humans as a source of comfort.
Researchers recruited both kittens and adult cats, as well as their owners, to participate in an experiment that has been used to test bonds between dogs and primates with their caretakers. In the study, cat and kitten owners entered an unfamiliar room with their animals. The caretakers then spent two minutes in the room with their cat, then left the animal alone for two minutes, and then returned for an additional two minutes. The study found that about two-thirds of the cats and kittens greeted their owners when they returned, then resumed exploring the room, and periodically returned to their owners. Based on this behavior, researchers concluded that the cats and kittens were securely attached to their owners, and considered them a safe base in an unfamiliar situation. Perhaps surprising to some, the findings among cats are nearly identical to the findings in studies conducted on dogs and infants, showing that cats form bonds with humans nearly as frequently.
And this wasn’t the first study that suggests cats like us more than we think. A 2017 study also conducted by the University of Oregon found that a majority of cats preferred interacting with a person over eating or playing with a toy. Furthermore, additional research has shown that cats know their name, and are sensitive to human emotions and moods.
So, it logically follows that some of this research is also applicable to feral cats. While they may not form the same kind of attachment as housecats do, there is evidence to show that feral cats still do bond with their caregivers. While they generally can’t be touched or held, over time feral cats become to know and trust their caregivers and form bonds with them. Feral cats can respond to their names as well as greet their caregivers, and sometimes will even allow to be pet while they are eating.
So while there is still a lot to be discovered about cats, these studies confirm that they are complex and intelligent animals who are in fact capable of love, despite their sometimes indifferent demeanor.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.