With Hurricane Harvey and Irma still a large part of the conversation, it should also be talked about what should be done with community cats.
I was impressed to see many friends and their friends preparing for their own hurricane evacuations, but also asking about what they could do for their community cats and other animals during the hurricane.
While we tend to focus on what we–as humans–need to do in emergencies, whether they be a hurricane, fire, or other disasters, it is also good to have a plan for your community cats, if you take care of them.
Below are some small but meaningful steps to put in place prior to a disaster.
Leave food and water in a safe spot
A safe spot may be an elevated space during potentially flooding or within a shed or garage that you can open. Depending on the emergency, you will need to come up with a solid plan in place to ensure community cats are fed but at the same time safe from harm when they try to reach the food.
Create shelters or open up shelters to them
If a major snowstorm is coming, it may be a good idea to create shelters for community cats. You can find tutorials online to help guide you through the process. You can even open doors to sheds, garages, and other existing pieces of shelter on your property, Some, if they are comfortable, sometimes open up a hole to under a porch to keep cats dry during rainstorms and extreme weather.
Have (human) contacts available
If you are a community cat caretaker, have a line of communication set up between yourself and neighbors. Perhaps you need to evacuate or leave but someone else will ride out the storm. Letting others know, who also care for the community cats, about your plans and how they can help can be a great way to ensure cats are safe.
Keep count of your cats
During Hurricane Irma, The Hemingway House was a topic of conversation among the community cat lovers. Luckily, the house had staff on-hand and had accounted for all their cats. While there may be cats you don’t know are in the area, having a tally of all of your community cats and if you have seen them prior to extreme weather can help you keep better tabs on them. You will know who to be on the lookout for and aware of all your community cats and new cats–if they show up.
These are just a few starter suggestions, but each community cat caretaker should come up with a plan specific to their colonies needs.
Project MEOW is always looking for fosters for cats as well as community caretakers who will take care of the community cats of Philadelphia–during both good and bad weather. For more information, visit their website.