Preparation can save time, sanity and lives. Here are some tips as to what you'll need to do.
Stay calmEasier said than done, remember your cat will pick up on your fear and fearful cats hide. Keep things as normal as possible. Watch your tone of voice most of all.
Teach your cat to come when calledFind a very special treat your cat will love. Use it only for your practice "fire drills" and reward lavishly when he comes running. This will work best when you have a warning—like take cover for a tornado or evacuate for a flood or hurricane.
Get your cat used to the crateIf you have more than one cat (and who wouldn't?), have a crate for each cat. Keep the crates near the exit or basement door. A copy of current vaccinations, medications and microchip number for all the cats, attached to each crate, will help—no need to try to get a cat in a certain crate, the description will tell who is who.
Click here to learn how to get your cat to like the cat carrier
Harness and leashCrates are made to move cats from one place to another, not to withstand a lot of bouncing around. As a backup, teach your cat to be comfortable in a harness and leash. Keep the harness/leash with the crate except when practicing how fast you can get it on your cat.
If the crate door pops open or the crate falls apart under duress, grab the leash as a second way to corral your cat. Many cats fake paralysis when first introduced to the harness. It may take a number of sessions to "restore" his ability to walk.
Click here to read more about harness and leash training for cats
A secure spotDecide ahead of time where you'll go if disaster strikes. A fire means get out of the house while a tornado means head for the basement or secure room. Have an exchange agreement set up with a friend - if you're unable to care for your cats in your home, she'll take them and you'll do the same for her.
Food, water and medicinesAn emergency kit with bottled water, canned or freeze dried/dehydrated food and extra medicines is a big help. If those items can be stored in an empty litter box with a baggie of litter, then everything is in one place for easy pick up on your way to safety.
As with all things, planning ahead can save time and lives in the face of a disaster whether man-made or natural. Walk through your cat's routine to see if you've forgotten anything. Don't forget your own things—as flight attendants say during their speech on the plane, "Take care of yourself first or you won't be able to save anyone else."
Fire, flood and mayhem—you can be ready for anything with a little preparation.