All of us at Sheltering Hands extend our thoughts and prayers to our community and state as we prepare for the approach of Hurricane Irma. To help you care for your companion animals and community cats, we have shared some ideas below.
- Most owned animals are terrified of storms and the accompanying noise. If you feel your pet may need some extra help with the situation, please consult your veterinarian for suggestions.
- Because families often shelter together and routines are changing, pets may escape in all the confusion. Make sure to keep your companion animals in a room away from doors that open to the outside. Microchipping your pet helps them to be reunited with you if they do escape.
- Create a safe, dark hiding place for your pet to go. A closet, under your bed or anywhere they can feel safe will help.
- Be sure to have enough food, water, medications and litter for at least two weeks for each pet.
- If you need to evacuate your home, there is one shelter in Marion County that will take pets- Vanguard High at 7 NW 28th Street. All pets must be in carriers and be up to date on immunizations(bring proof). You will need to bring all necessary food and supplies for your pet and pick up after them. You can also check with your vet for boarding suggestions. However, remember, if your home would not be safe for you, it is not safe for your pets.
- Remember that for most community cats, outside is home. They are resourceful and know their territory. They have their special hiding places to go to in bad weather and often begin moving to them in advance of bad weather.
- That being said, community cat caretakers can do some things to help their colony make the best of bad weather. If you are feeding in a low area prone to flooding, relocate their food to higher ground. It is best to do this in stages so they can become used to the new area.
- If possible, trap and house vulnerable cats in a shed or garage. This might include elderly or the very young, disabled or pregnant cats or those with young kittens.
- Since being trapped is the greatest fear of the truly feral cat, it is best, if possible, to leave a shed or garage slightly open so they can come and go during the storm.
- Remove or tie down objects that can become airborne.
- If possible, have back up caregivers in case you are unable to get to the site.
- DO NOT attempt to feed cats until it is safe to do so.
- If you evacuate and cannot arrange another caretaker, try to leave 3-5 days of food for the colony. Remember, most animals stay hunkered down during a storm. They will not come out to eat until it is safe either. There will undoubtedly be plenty of water around, so they can get by for a few days until it is safe.