Being prepared, having all the necessary tools and information is key to successfully saving your cat(s) in a disaster.
Always have easy access to the cat carrier. If possible leave it where your cat has easy entry to it. In order to encourage your cat to go into the carrier, place a favorite treat, toy or catnip inside. Choose a word that the cat can associate with going into the carrier. And practice, practice, practice. Accustom your cat to the noise of the smoke alarm to help avoid panic at the sound.
Consider purchasing a soft carrier as they are lighter to carry. Folding wheeled carts can be handy to place the carrier in and lighten the load. Pillowcases work well too and cats can easily breathe in them. In an emergency situation, you want to get out of the area asap, so if you have more than one cat, it’s okay to put them together even if they don’t like each other and there’s no time to waste. You can rub some catnip in the carrier or pillowcase to make it more inviting to your cat. Once the cat(s) are in the pillowcase, tie the top together with a rope making a loop to fit over your wrist or large enough for a shoulder strap.
Keep copies of important papers, canned cat food, litter, a litter box, bottled water and anything else necessary to keep your cat comfortable, in your car.
Most cats choose a particular place they run to when they feel threatened or in a panic. Try using a special sound, like shaking a bag of treats, to call them to come to you. Always have a flashlight hand making sure batteries are working. If you are not home when an emergency occurs, humane organizations offer stickers for your windows or door telling rescue workers how many animals you have and what kind and they are usually free of charge.
If you have to escape out a window and down a ladder, using one carrier will make your descent easier. If by some chance your cat(s) escape, be sure they wear break-away collars to avoid getting caught on something. They should be microchipped and wear a tag as well with your name, cell phone number, your veterinarian’s number and the cell number of a friend or relative. Cats are very territorial and will probably try to return to their home, If your cat is lost, look there first when it is safe.
United Animal Nation’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) have several thousand volunteers throughout the U.S. They are always ready in disaster situations to rescue and care for animals working together with the ASPCA, the Humane Society and local shelters and rescues. EARS recommends a pillowcase-like carrier made with mesh material, a shoulder strap so hands are free, a pouch for papers, a ring to hold a water bottle. These fit one cat to a pack and it’s possible to carry 2 or 3 packs at a time.
Do your research. Ask your local fire station and any animal organizations any questions you may have about saving your cat in case of fire or any emergency.
Practice fire drills often with your cat(s). Training them can take time and patience, but will be well worth the effort.