When Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson touched down on the Gulf Coast just 48 hours after Hurricane Ida with a plane full of lifesaving supplies for cats and other animals, she was met with harrowing accounts of the storm’s destruction.

Entire Louisiana neighborhoods were flooded, critical infrastructure was damaged—and cats were left behind, some trapped in their homes, and others without their caregivers.

“The situation was absolutely dire,” says Becky. “Many cats were stranded in houses, starving, and in need of urgent medical attention. We had to act fast to save their lives.”

Upon returning four days later with a second plane of critical supplies, Becky witnessed the devastation up close. Many cats remained in dangerous conditions, with the clock ticking to save their lives.

Alley Cat Allies’ supplies made the difference. We brought generators (more valuable than gold at the time), veterinary triage kits, cat and dog food, and other important items to facilitate rescue and urgent care.

All this was possible thanks to the generous and unwavering support of our donors. Because of you, thousands of cats are alive today who very likely would not be otherwise. We’ll never forget that.

But these animals should never have been in such a grim position. The reality is the aftermath of Hurricane Ida was dishearteningly similar to what Becky experienced on the ground after Hurricane Katrina— despite 16 years to make progress. The commonality: a shocking and deadly lack of preparedness.

Post-Katrina, federal and state laws were passed, including the U.S. Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act in 2006, to ensure animals are properly included in disaster response. Louisiana Revised Statute 29:729—also in effect since 2006— requires that parishes establish evacuation shelters and protocols for animals and require animal shelters to develop disaster plans.

Yet, just as during Katrina, shelters in affected parishes still scrambled in the face of Hurricane Ida, and cats were still left behind during evacuations.

Remedying this situation is a matter of life and death. Alley Cat Allies is committed to increasing disaster preparedness education and outreach nationally, starting in Louisiana. As part of this work, we will press for greater accountability under laws meant to protect people and animals during disasters.

Learn more about our Hurricane Ida response.