Be PURRPared

Here in Northern California, we’re watching a sickening rerun of last October’s wildfires. This time, the Ferguson Fire outside of Yosemite and the Carr Fire in Redding are sending tens of thousands of people and pets to evacuation centers. More wildfires are sprouting like mushrooms in Mendocino, Napa and Lake counties.

Jynx, the calico in the photo above is a survivor of the Redding fire which has consumed over 172 square miles* and destroyed over 880 homes and hundreds of other buildings. Jynx was found cowering in bushes near her burning home and scooped up by an evacuating neighbor.

And yes, even vishus deer need saving:


So, just a reminder for all of my fellow wildfire-country residents: Be purrpared.

Chip, tag and bell your cats. An ID tag is the easiest way for anyone who finds the cat to reunite the two of you. A bell on the collar gives you an auditory clue of your cat’s whereabouts if s/he is scared and hiding. A microchip backs up the tag if the collar is lost.

Add a transponder. We use both Podtracker and¬†Tabcat transponders to facilitate finding errant cats. They use different technologies, providing a belts-and-suspenders solution for us. The transponders affix to the collar. With Tabcat, you then use a credit card-sized tricorder device to locate the cat via IR beam — it could provide invaluable in locating our little black cat, Homer, in the middle of the night when the power is out. Podtracker is GPS-enabled, and you can track via a smartphone app or in your browser.

Copy your cats’ health records. Often, evacuation shelters that allow animals require proof of vaccinations. Same thing if you need to board an animal. Keep a hard copy in your car’s glove compartment and a soft copy stored in the cloud.

Do you have enough cat carriers? In many multi-cat households there are fewer carriers than cats, and this could be a problem during the chaos of an evacuation. Add fold-up carriers to your supply–simple cardboard ones (about $8) or fabric/mesh collapsible carriers (less than $11 ea. at Amazon) that can be stored inside your regular carriers. In a pinch, use a pillowcase.

Sign up for CodeRed alerts. Most counties offer this service. Provide mobile and landline numbers to get calls and texts when your neighborhood is in danger.

The 6 Ps. Remember the “6 Ps” which cover everything you’ll need to evacuate with:

  1. People and Pets
  2. Papers, phone numbers and Important Documents
  3. Prescriptions, Vitamins, and Eyeglasses
  4. Pictures and Irreplaceable Memorabilia
  5. Personal Computers (information on hard drive & disks)
  6. Plastic (credit cards, ATM cards, & cash)

Don’t think. Act. Practice evacuating with your cats in the dark until you can get out the door and down the driveway in less than 5 minutes.

When in doubt, get out. Don’t wait around for an evacuation order; it may not come. These fires have been far more erratic than anyone has been able to predict and not everyone has gotten the evac order in time.

And here’s more cat-centric emergency preparedness training from Cat Scouts:

* In area, that’s over three times the size of San Francisco

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Category: Featured, News

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at

Comments (1)

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  1. Oh my word! This is a terrific post; it’s just too bad that you had to write it! My heart breaks for those affected by the fires.


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