If you ever need to evacuate your home, always plan to bring your pets along with you. But for community cats, evacuating with them is not feasible or recommended. These cats have powerful survival instincts during disaster situations, and the best way to help them is to provide support around those instincts and plan ahead to keep track of them.
You can take steps to help a community cat colony survive a disaster. Here are a few things you can do that will give them a survival advantage:
- Be sure all the cats are neutered and eartipped, and get a good photo of each cat. Keep the photos with the documentation for your pets, so you’ll have it all with you if you have to evacuate. This will help with identifying the cats, should they later be trapped by rescuers.
- If you live in a flood-prone area, put cat shelters and feeding stations on higher ground.
- If the cats commonly seek refuge under a shed or building, be sure that they have more than one escape route from beneath the building. Keep openings cat-size; larger openings are not necessary and let the elements and other animals in.
- If possible, place a laminated sign on the cat’s house or feeding station letting rescuers know that this is a managed colony site and that you are the contact person (provide a cell phone number or other number where you can be reached).
- Community cats’ best chance of survival is using their own instincts and abilities to respond to changing circumstances. Like wildlife, feral cats will instinctively seek higher ground during floods.
- After imminent danger has passed, if you are not allowed into the area right away, reach out to local humane groups and inform them of the location of your colony. Ask them to provide water and food until you can return.
- Provide descriptions and copies of photos of the cats to any emergency animal shelters in your area in case any cats are trapped by rescuers. Visit local shelters in person if cats are missing when you return.
Community cats are resourceful and accounts of their survival in natural disasters are not uncommon. You can support them by following these steps.