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.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.