Wildfires: Preparedness And Evacuation Plan For Pets

A police officer returns a frighted cat to it's owners amidst the chaos of a house fire.

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Wildfires endanger natural resources, property, people, and of course, beloved pets. So far in 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire burned 500 square miles, the Holy Fire caused 20,000 people to evacuate from their homes, and 16 other wildfires still burn in the state of California, alone. The almost unimaginable devastation serves as a reminder that we must protect what is most precious–our lives and the lives of our loved ones, including our animal companions. If you haven’t already prepared your human family and pets with a plan that includes what to do in the event of an evacuation, now is the time. Even if you end up not needing to evacuate, it’s better to have a plan and not need it than to need a plan and not have one. Read these helpful tips for preparing for a wildfire and evacuating with your pets.

Stay Alert

Portrait of Birman Cat illuminated by smartphone

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Firstly, you need a way to stay updated on the emergencies in your area and know whether an evacuation is necessary. There are several ways to get emergency notifications, and it’s best to have multiple ways to receive communications in case one method fails. Staying alert helps you prepare your household and your pets if the worst happens. Follow these tips.

  • Understand the risks for where you live. The USDA Forest Service created a wildfire hazard potential (WHP) map of the U.S. that indicates how likely it is for a wildfire to affect you. Risks change depending on precipitation and other factors, but checking this map may be a good first step in preparing yourself.
  • Download the FEMA mobile app to your smart phone. This app sends you notifications about natural disasters from the National Weather Service, gives you preparedness tips, and helps locate shelters among other things. Some reviewers claim the app sends too many notifications, but the app gets updates frequently to address user issues, and it’s better to be too informed than not informed at all.
  • The ASPCA mobile app can also help you prepare for a disaster, manage your pet’s health records, and provide you with resources to help you find a lost pet should you get separated.
  • Have a hand crank or solar-powered radio, and set the frequency to a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) station. It will help you stay informed in the event that your phone dies or other communications go out, and these stations broadcast 24/7.

Plan Where To Go

lying and relaxing in bed with cat opposite the window on a sunny day

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If an evacuation occurs, you’ll need a safe place to go that will allow your whole family and pets to stay. Then, make sure your family knows where to go in case you are separated or unable to reunite before evacuating. There are several options that might work for your individual situation, and some options might be ruled out if they are also located in a place affected by wildfires. However, note that many evacuation centers do not accept pets due to health and safety regulations, so do not rely on them as an option unless they specifically tell you pets are allowed. Additionally, plan for a backup in case your first emergency meetup location isn’t usable. Consider the following options.

  • The best option is to have a friend or family member who can take you in for a while. Try to pick someone who lives far enough away that you can escape danger. Also, think of several different family members or friends in case your top choice is dealing with an emergency, too.
  • Create a list of hotels and motels that allow pets. Make sure that you find a few options, as some locations may also be in the path of a wildfire. Several websites let you search specifically for lodgings that allow pets, including bringfido.com, expedia.com, and hotels.petswelcome.com.
  • If you must go to a place with your family that does not allow pets, like an emergency evacuation center, look for a pet sitter, kennel, vet’s office, or animal shelter, as sometimes these places make special arrangements for pets in cases of emergencies and natural disasters. Call ahead.

Make Preparations For Your Pets

Portrait Of Cat Lying Down

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Your pets can’t possibly know how to prepare themselves for an evacuation, so it’s your job to make preparations for them. Start taking these steps well in advance of an emergency. Some of them you can even do right now.

  • If you live in an area where wildfires are a possible threat, keep your pets inside whenever it’s not necessary for them to be outdoors, and have them on leash and supervised when they are outside. Animals can bolt and hide when they are afraid, and that can make them difficult to find when a few moments can make the difference between getting out and getting hurt. You need to have a way to keep them under control and easy to reach. Frightened pets can hop fences, chew through leashes, and ignore learned commands. Keep them safe.
  • Update your pet’s microchip and collar identification. Make sure the contact information is accurate, and have an emergency contact number listed in addition to your own, just in case you can’t get to your phone. If your pet gets lost, this is one of your best chances of being reunited with them.
  • Get a fire alert sticker for your front door. This sticker should let firefighters know how many pets are in your home. If you can’t get to your pet before being evacuated, or if you can’t find them and need to escape right away, the sticker will help emergency responders save your animals.
  • Get your neighbors’ contact information. If you can’t make it home, designate one of your neighbors as a person you can call to pick up your pets and take them to safety if the worst should happen. Discuss this with them before an emergency occurs. Find a few backup neighbors in case any of them aren’t home.

Pack Your Pet Emergency Kit

Full Length Of Cat Sitting Outdoors

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You’ll need several supplies for your pets to take care of them while you’re away from home. Keep these supplies together in a place where you can grab them and go, if necessary. Also, pack an emergency kit for humans with supplies for yourself and your human family members. Your pet emergency kit should be easy to pack, but it should also contain all of the essentials you’ll need for a few days. Here are some of the things you should pack.

  • A pet first-aid kit. You should ask your veterinarian for a checklist of things to pack in a first-aid kit for your individual pets. Click here for more info on what should be included in a first-aid kit for pets.
  • The ASPCA recommends you pack three to seven days worth of food for each pet.
  • Medical records and recent photos for each pet. You can store these on a flash drive if it is easier.
  • A week’s worth of any medication your pets might need.
  • Paper towels, litter boxes, poop bags, garbage bags, or other supplies to clean up after your pets.
  • Disinfectant or dish soap.
  • Seven days worth of water for each person and pet (replace every two months it goes unused)
  • Crates, carriers, and bedding.
  • Extra supplies like leashes, toys, harnesses, collars, food and water bowls, etc.

Evacuating With Your Pets

Woman with pet carrier

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If you are told to evacuate, take your pets with you and leave immediately, even if you do not see signs of immediate danger. Furthermore, do not wait for the evacuation to become mandatory. Many people who are forced to evacuate are instructed to leave pets behind. Don’t let that become your only option. Follow the instructions of emergency service workers and get your family and pets to safety. Here are a few tips to follow.

  • If you need to evacuate quickly, leave non-essential material possessions behind. No object is worth risking your life or the lives of your pets and family.
  • Do not allow your pets to roam or get loose. Keep them in carriers or on-leash at all times. They will be in a stressful situation and potentially in unfamiliar places, which may frighten them enough to run away.
  • Stick to your pets’ usual feeding and medication schedules as much as possible.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification at all times.
  • Remain calm and don’t take chances. Confirm that everyone in your party knows where you are going and who to contact if you get separated, and there should be no confusion about who is responsible for caring for pets at any moment. Don’t assume someone else in the family is paying attention to your pets at all times. Take shifts or have a designated caretaker.
  • Stay informed. Listen to emergency stations and notifications. Do not return home until you receive the all-clear.

What other tips do you recommend for pet owners who need to evacuate due to a wildfire? Also, what preparations have you made to evacuate if you need to? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day: 5 Ways To Memorialize Your Cat

Cat sleeping hologram clothing

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August 28th is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day–a day to celebrate the lives of the cats and other pets who touched our lives and are no longer with us. Some believe that our pets cross over to a place called the Rainbow Bridge when they die, and they wait for us there until our lives end, and we meet again. Whether or not you believe in the Rainbow Bridge, this day is a good opportunity to think about the cats that have been so special to you and to honor their memories.

There are so many ways to grieve and pay tribute to loved ones, and your own process will be deeply personal. These suggestions are simply meant to help inspire you to memorialize your cats in a way that brings you comfort and helps you move on, but never forget. Here are five ways to memorialize your cat in honor of Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day.

1. Have A Ceremony

Tombstone in shape of a heart

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Sometimes the process of losing pets is painful and happens so fast that we don’t have time to catch our breath and hold a proper memorial service. Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day can be a chance to set aside some time to make up for that.

A memorial service doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. It can just be you and your family, or maybe a few friends, who were particularly fond of the cat you lost. Share stories, appreciate your loved ones, and grieve together. If you are holding onto your pet’s ashes and have been meaning to spread them, this might be a good opportunity to do that.

2. Share Good Memories

It can be heartbreaking to talk about the cats that we’ve lost, but rather than focusing on the pain, we should remember the good times and share those positive memories with others. Before the pain of loss, your cat gave you a lifetime of love and happiness, and one way to honor that love is by sharing and never forgetting it. Your positive stories may encourage others who are afraid of losing a cat to realize that having a cat in your life is worth it, and it may help them make the choice to adopt and save another life.

3. Create Something

Black cat sitting near a guitar

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Many people find comfort in expressing themselves through art or other creative outlets. Whether or not you feel that you have a creative talent, try making something that will help you pay tribute to your cat. It can be a drawing, painting, poem, song, video, story, or even just a collection of thoughts that you write down. You can use woodworking, stitching, or any other skills you have, but just try to make something. You’d be surprised how cathartic and comforting it can be to put your thoughts and emotions into making something, and you’ll be left with a lasting memorial that has very special meaning to you.

4. Carry A Tribute

You may want to remember your cat by always having something that reminds you of them close by. A locket with a picture inside, a bracelet or piece of jewelry that reminds you of your cat, or even a picture in your wallet can be valuable reminders of the love and good times you shared, and it may be a visual symbol that part of your cat is always with you. Just make sure you have copies of all pictures you use in case you lose your wallet or jewelry. Some people choose to even get tattoos that pay tribute to their cats so they always have a memorial with them, no matter what. If that’s not your style, that’s fine, too. Everyone has their own way of remembering their loved ones.

5. Look Into Adopting Another Cat

France, cats in a refuge for animals (SPA).

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Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve had another cat. The pain of loss might make it seem like opening your heart again isn’t worth it. I certainly wouldn’t rush anyone who is grieving to feel like they need to replace a cat immediately, or to just “get over it.” If you need time, that’s fine. But when you are ready, consider sharing your home and your love with another cat.

Your kitty certainly wouldn’t want you to be sad and lonely. That’s why they brought you so much joy in life and comforted you when you needed it most. Adopting a new cat can be a great way to honor your old kitty’s love, and you’d be saving a life. Too many cats live without loving forever families, and any one of them would be so happy to even get a fraction of the love you felt for your old cat. Bringing new life into your home is a great way to honor those you’ve lost.

What other things can people do to memorialize their cats on Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day? What sorts of things do you do to pay tribute to cats you’ve lost? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 Ways To Chill With Your Cat On National Relaxation Day

A man lying in a hammock petting a cat

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August 15th is National Relaxation Day– a day to take it easy and relieve some stress, and your best furry friend can certainly help with that. Being around cats can help reduce blood pressure, anxiety, loneliness, and plenty of other things that stress us out. Spending some time with your cat will make you feel good, and it will give you a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life that may be overwhelming you. National Relaxation Day is all about remembering to stop, rest, and let things go once in a while so you can enjoy living in the moment. Here are six ways you can chill with your cat and get the most out of National Relaxation Day.

1. Take The Day Off

Most of us have made the difficult choice to push our sleeping cats off our arms so we could go to work at some point. Today, let your kitty sleep on you. Call in and take the day off. There’s nothing wrong with taking a little “me” time, especially if that me time is spent with your cat. Your kitty will certainly appreciate having you around all day, and they’ll be extra happy that they don’t have to go through the stress of watching you walk out the door without them. Have a work-free, relaxing day with your bestie.

2. Make It A Spa Day

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Nothing rejuvenates and relaxes quite like a spa day, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give your cat the pampering they deserve. Play some relaxing music, try aromatherapy, and make a nice, comfy place for your cat to lie down. Give your feline a great kitty massage, which can be especially helpful for cats that have arthritis. Use cat-safe essential oils that will help you and your fur baby feel calm. If you’d like to know more about using essential oils for aromatherapy with pets, click here and do your research to make sure you’re using the best, safest oils for your cat.

3. Pet Your Kitty

This one is nice and simple, and anyone can do it. Just pet your kitty. Studies have shown that just a few minutes of petting your cat rreleases a ton of feel-good hormones into your system, including dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin. These hormones won’t just make you and your cat feel relaxed; they will actually help increase your bond and feelings of friendship. Give your kitty a bit of lovin’ and you’ll both feel better.

4. Take A Cat Nap Together

Close-Up Of Cat Sleeping

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Taking a nap with loved ones is very natural for a cat. They do it from the time they are kittens, snuggling together for comfort, safety, and warmth. It helps them form bonds and show a high level of trust. When a cat curls up with you for a nap, you can take comfort in knowing that they are relaxed and that they know you will keep them safe. Taking a cat nap will also give you both some rest and help you wake up feeling refreshed.

5. Play Active Games

Being more active might not sound relaxing to you, but it sure is for your cat. Boredom can lead to anxious and destructive behavior. Cats that have proper mental and physical stimulation are less likely to show such behaviors because they have an outlet to relieve all that nervous energy. Try a new puzzle feeder or a new toy. Did you know some cats can play fetch? Give it a try. Make some new toys out of safe household objects. Give your cat a good play session and see how much more relaxed they’ll be afterwards.

6. Be A Couch Potato

Woman sitting with her cat on the couch watching TV

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As your day of relaxation winds down, spend some time relaxing on a comfy couch with your cat. They’ll be happy to curl up with you and get some extra pets, and they might even get so relaxed that they drift off to sleep. The end of the day is a good time to start a binge watch session with your cat so you can both turn off your brains and veg out. Having a special day all to yourselves might be just what you and your kitty need to recharge and feel refreshed, and relaxing on the couch together is the perfect way to close it out.

Are you going to celebrate National Relaxation Day with your cat? What do you like to do with your kitty to relax? Let us know in the comments below!

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Bronson The 33-Pound Fat Cat Gets A New Home And A Diet

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When Mike and Megan visited the Humane Society of West Michigan, they were hoping to adopt a kitten to their fur family. They already had three cats at home and felt like they were ready for another addition. But when they walked into the shelter, they literally could not miss Bronson, a big, fat, 33-pound cat. Of course, they had to stop and pet the huge furball, and Bronson started happily purring away and kneading his comfy bed. That’s when the couple noticed that Bronson had thumbs, and they made his paws look like their home state of Michigan.

Mike and Megan couldn’t resist falling in love with Bronson. The shelter told them that the three-year-old cat came in as a surrender, but they didn’t know much about him or how he got in such a state. It’s possible that he had an owner who fed him a poor diet or wasn’t able to provide him with exercise. The shelter wasn’t even sure if Bronson was mobile, as they hadn’t seen him walk since he got there. Once the couple understood Bronson’s needs, they decided to take him home and get him into shape.

The next day, Bronson shocked Mike and Megan when he got up and started walking around, exploring his new surroundings. They were also surprised to find out that he liked playing with toys and wasn’t particularly food motivated. In fact, he sometimes didn’t even finish his vet-prescribed amount of food for the day. This worried Bronson’s new owners, as they thought he might start losing weight too quickly, which can be very harmful to cats.

The couple has worked with Bronson’s vet to find a food and workout regimen that works for him. They keep him active during meal time by moving his food, they encourage play, and they provide him with plenty of physical activities. He’s already down to 31.7 pounds, which is slow, steady, and safe progress.

It’s not always easy, though. Bronson has difficulty with mobility and sometimes can’t even reach to clean himself. Mike and Megan run a wall-mounted cat furniture company, and Bronson doesn’t seem to be quite ready to jump up to test it out. He might be too heavy for it, anyway. But hopefully, as he sheds the pounds, he’ll be able to move comfortably again. In the meantime, Bronson has come out of his shell a bit more and enjoys playing with the other cats, getting pets and scratches, and being part of a loving family.

You can follow Bronson’s weight loss journey on Instagram by following @iambronsoncat.

Are you happy to see Bronson in a loving home and losing weight? How do you think Bronson got so big in only three years? Let us know in the comments below!

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30 Pictures Of A Day In The Life Of A Cat For International Cat Day [GALLERY]

Wednesday August 8th 2018 is International Cat Day!

From dishing out boops, to raiding the catnip stash, to defying gravity, a cat’s day is very busy. Cats have a reputation for being lazy nappers, but they have plenty of other stuff to do with their time. International Cat Day is a perfect time to celebrate the daily duties of our feline companions. Here are 30 pictures that show what cats get up to in an average busy cat day.

What else does your cat do every day? How are you celebrating International Cat Day? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hilarious Cat Climbs On Academic Owner During Serious News Interview [VIDEO]

A Dutch news program called Nieuwsuur interviewed Polish academic historian, Jerzy Targalski, about the forced removal of his country’s top judge by the ruling conservative party. Certainly, the serious, controversial topic demanded a solemn conversation, but that’s not what Targalski’s orange tabby cat, Lisio, had in mind.

The adorable kitty couldn’t bear to spend time away from Targalski, even for a television interview. Lisio climbed Targaski’s arm and perched on his shoulders, stealing the show entirely. Targalski tried to plow on, but he might as well not have been speaking at all, as the kitty captured all the attention, even curling a long tail in front of the cat owner’s eyes and face. (Jump to 3:50 in the video below for more Lisio!)

Lisio is known to appear on Targalski’s lap in other segments, though not quite as intrusively has in his Nieuwsuur interview. Lisio also crashed a piece with Targalski earlier this year, sitting on his lap and sneaking behind him for a nap on his chair. Targalski’s other kitty, a cute, black snuggler, also sat on his lap. (You can see that cat at 9:03 in the video below!)

I think we can all relate to our cats never giving us a moment of privacy, but it’s one of the many reasons we love them so much. It’s hard to say “no” to our adorable feline friends, and that’s why they have us wrapped around their tiny paws.

Has your cat interrupted you at some inopportune times? Can you relate to Targalski and his love for felines? Let us know in the comments below!

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Summer Danger: Cat Loses Ears To Sunlight Exposure

Summer is here, which means the days are long and the sun is shining. For our cats, it means there are even more places to take a warm nap in the sunshine. We certainly want our kitties to be nice and comfortable, but it is also important to recognize that there are dangers when it comes to sun exposure.  The story of Tiara, a 13-year-old cat who came to a shelter with severely sun-damaged ears, serves as an example of these dangers.

When Tiara came to Cats Protection–a charity group that shelters, cares for, and finds homes for cats in need–her ears were so badly damaged by the sun that they needed to be removed. Cats Protection is hoping that Tiara’s story can be a cautionary tale that will encourage cat lovers to take precautions when their own kitties are exposed to sunlight.

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Cats with white or light-colored fur, like Tiara, are especially at-risk. Sun damage can lead to conditions like sunburns and squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. The ears, nose, and areas where there is little fur coverage, like the groin, are more susceptible to damage. Cats that suffer from hair loss are more exposed, too. It’s also important to note that there are other dangers in summer, such as heat stroke and dehydration, that you should be aware of when protecting your cat.

Here are a few tips for keeping your cat safe in summer:

  • Limit sunlight exposure. Keep your cat indoors during peak sunlight hours, usually from around 10am to 2pm. If your cat likes to lie in the sunlight at home, you may want to prevent them from doing so for too long. Draw the blinds or close the curtains during peak hours.
  • Use cat sunscreen. There are sunscreens specifically for pets, and you should consult your vet on which ones are appropriate. Do NOT use human sunscreen on cats without talking to your vet. Apply especially to areas with low fur coverage and make sure your cat does not lick the sunscreen off.
  • Provide fresh water to your cat at all times to keep them hydrated.
  • If you see any sores, ulcers, or skin damage, get to your veterinarian right away. Skin that has been damaged by the sun is likely to get worse without treatment, and any areas that have been damaged by the sun before are likely to be damaged again. Follow your vet’s instructions for protecting your cat.

What other tips would you recommend for keeping cats safe in the sun? How are you protecting your cat from the dangers of summer? Let us know in the comments below!

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