As Hurricane Sandy bears down upon New Jersey, it’s important to remember that disaster plans are necessary not only for indoor pets but for feral cat colonies too.
According to Alley Cat Allies, the national feral cat advocacy organization, feral cats are resourceful and they learn how to deal with weather. Animals can sense when bad weather is approaching and instinctively move to higher ground and places where they feel safe.
However, there are steps that need to be taken when harsh weather is predicted:
- If appropriate, turn all openings for feral cat shelters and feeding stations away from the storm surge or toward higher ground. If possible, move them to slightly higher ground nearby that offers greater protection.
- Fill multiple food and water bowls in case you cannot return during your regularly scheduled time to replenish.
It may be difficult and next to impossible to bring feral cats with you if you need to evacuate yourself during an emergency situation. However, those looking after feral colonies will most likely agree that steps should be taken to at least try to relocate the ferals to safe shelter and out of harm’s way, especially if there is significant warning of an impending disaster.
At the very least, look for a back-up caregiver who can be responsible for the colony in your absence. You may be able to find other cat caregivers in your area through the Alley Cat Allies Feral Friends Network or network with other TNR groups in your area.
After the disaster has passed and it is safe to return to the colony area, here are things that you should do:
- Clean the colony area and remove potential hazards. Check for shelter damage and make necessary repairs.
- Take role call of your colony members. If any cats are missing, immediately determine which agencies are in the area assisting with animals. You need to find out how to claim your colony members if they have been taken in by Animal Control, for instance. It is also recommended that you personally visit any local animal shelters, as they may be inundated by phone calls following a natural disaster situation and unable to respond immediately.
Remember not to panic if some cats are missing after a natural disaster. Cats will seek shelter and can hide for days, so give your colony members some time to return on their own after you have exhausted your contact with shelters and local agencies.
Read more about how to prepare for disaster on this Alley Cat Allies website page.
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