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Have a Plan for Your Pets In a Weather Emergency

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We’re not used to snow here in the Deep South. About every two to four years, however, we get a couple of inches between December and February. It lasts for a day or two and then it’s gone, thankfully. Every five to ten years, though, we get a blizzard, like the one we had last week.

Working in radio, that means I’m on 24-hour call to bring our listeners the latest on weather and road conditions, closings, accidents, etc. It also means, I’m away from home, which means a nightmare of scheduling and coordinating pet sitters and finding a hotel near the station that’s pet friendly so I can bring my dogs. But finding someone to take care of my cats while I was gone, was a huge headache.

When I go on vacation, I have the luxury of planning far enough in advance to call my pet sitter, but winter storms are another matter. My pet sitter was 15 miles away, snowed in like everyone else. When that kind of bad weather hits, you never know how long you’re going to be away from home in my business. So it’s a crap shoot finding someone to kitty sit, and there was no way I was going to just put a lot of dry food out and hope for the best. Bundling up 11 cats and taking them with me to the hotel was not an option. Leaving them alone was also not going to happen. I would have come home to a house destroyed by multiple cats with cabin fever.

My cats don’t do well when I leave for days at a time to begin with. It stresses them out to be in the house the entire time and to have their normal routine interrupted. That results in behavioral issues, such as pee’ing on the floor, knocking things off of bookshelves, getting stuck in places.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor said he would come down and feed my cats and scoop their litter boxes. But that didn’t eliminate a couple of CAT-tastrophies.

On Tuesday, I called him to see how things were going.

“Everything is fine. By the way, did you leave the kitchen faucet running when you left yesterday?” he asked.

“No, why?” I replied.

“Well, when I went over to your house this morning, your kitchen faucet was running full blast,” he said.

That meant water was running for a good 10 – 12 hours, full tilt. I don’t even want to KNOW what my water bill is going to look like next month. The only thing I can surmise is that two of the cats got into a spat vying for a place on the window sill over the sink and acciddently turned on the water.

Things went smoothly after that, except he said, they ran for cover, when he opened the door.

It was Thursday afternoon before I was able to get home, and surprisingly the house was in good order, but the bathroom door was closed. When I opened it, I found my foster kitten, Egypt and her buddy, Cooper locked inside. Apparently, they had been in there since the day before. Coop and Egypt love to chase each other around the house, and at some point while no one was there, ended up in the bathroom and accidently shut the door behind them. In their effort to free themselves, they opened the linen closet and pulled down all of the clean towels and sheets and used the bathtub for a litter box.

When I came home and opened the door, Coop was hiding and crying under a towel he pulled down on himself and E-G was hiding in the bathtub. It took some time to get them calmed down once they were freed.

My homecoming disaster might have infuriated other pet owners, but I realized it was not their fault.

Even though I had worked out a plan for a neighbor to check on them, a change in their routine was stressful for them.

In the event of a sudden weather emergency, make sure you have a plan in place to keep your pets safe. Ask a neighbor to care for them if you have to evacuate and can't take them with you or get them to your vet or nearest boarding kennel.

If you can take your pets with you, make sure they're in a secure carrier, preferably a hard-sided carrier. That way, they are less likely get out. You can also put in their favorite bedding and hang some food bowls from the metal door.

Also, make sure you have a cover, such as a towell or blanket to cover the carrier. Cats feel safer in stressful situations when they think they're hiding from all the commotion. Bring enough food for the days you think you will be away and also a disposable litter box. Some come with the litter already in them.

If you know far enough in advance, you might also want to check with your vet for a prescription sedative for your cat. However, I've always found my cats prefer to have their wits about them when traveling.

The day I came home, sun was shining, but it was still cold with snow on the ground. Still, I decided to open the back door and let the cats get outside and have some fresh air while I cleaned. By evening, the cats were back in the house, the house was clean, I was exhausted and so were they.

My dogs, by the way, had a great time on their Big Snow Adventure, but that’s another article for another day.

It was good to be back in my own, clean bed, with my fe-lions snuggled around me. Peace.

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