What to Do With Cats During an Earthquake?

Your frightened feline's instinct to hide puts her at greater risk during earthquakes.
Your frightened feline's instinct to hide puts her at greater risk during earthquakes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

As a pet owner, caring for your four-legged friend should be a part of your household's emergency planning. Losing track of your kitty during an emergency is a frightening and overwhelming experience. In the event of an earthquake, a little preparation makes a huge difference for you and your companion.

During the Earthquake

Once you've confirmed that all the human residents of the household are unharmed, your next priority is locating the cat. Even a minor earthquake is enough to terrify an animal, so expect her to be hiding in a dark and confined place. Open a can of tuna or wet food or use treats to entice her out of hiding if you can't find or reach her. If you find her hiding under furniture, reach in and pull her out gently. Lift and hold her by placing your hand under her chest with your thumb and pinky finger behind her elbow joints. Pin her against your side until you get her in the carrier. Speak to her with a calm voice and stroke her gently to reassure her.


In the aftermath of a severe earthquake, gather all of your emergency supplies and prepare to leave the house. Make sure the cat carrier is closed properly. Put a towel or small blanket over the carrier to limit your pet's vision as you move her to the car or rescue vehicle. Keep her in the carrier until you're in a confined space where she cannot run off out of fear. If you go to an emergency shelter, bring the kitty with you. Local governments are required to accommodate companion animals due to the Pet Evacuation Transportation Safety Act, so your cat won't be refused access, according to the ASPCA. Don't bring your cat home until you've checked the entire house for chemical spills and potential escape routes created by quake damage.

Kitty "Go Bag"

The go bag is a simple and effective way to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters. Fill a durable backpack or shoulder bag with a week's worth of pet supplies. Your kitty's bag should contain food, water and bowls; first aid and medication if necessary; cat litter, a disposable box and scoop; and an extra collar and leash, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. Stock the bag with non-perishable supplies and store it in an easily accessible location alongside your cat's carrier.

Identification and Vaccines

Even if your kitty is strictly indoors, she should have some sort of identification on her in the event of a sudden calamity. A microchip or even a collar with a tag can help you locate her if she escaped during the chaos of an earthquake. Your kitty should also be up to date on all of her vaccines. Animal agencies and emergency relief workers look out for pet animals during disasters, so there's a good chance she'll end up at an animal shelter or temporary containment area with lots of other lost pets. While this is great news for those who lose their pets, it also means your kitty may be exposed to contagious diseases during her stay there.

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