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Emergency Plan - Getting Cats Out Safely

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi All -

Can you share with me some of your plans/thoughts on how to get multiple cats out safely in case of an emergency?

I have 6 now, and I live on the 4th floor of an apartment building. In September my whole area flooded and they made us evacuate. I only had 5 cats at the time but 1 carrier (because one has seizures and I can't put her in one, I can fit 2 in the carrier cause the carrier is big, and I never forsaw needing to take all 5 out at once). I had help getting them out of the building with me to my car, but realistically my options are slim in case of a different emergency, like a fire.

I can't carry 6 carriers in one trip (who knows if I'd have time for multiple trips, so I'm planning for the worst case scenario).

I can't really sling 6 of those over the shoulder carrier bags on me either, since 2 are kinda "portly" and combined all my cats are about 80lbs.

The only option I can come up with is to start training them all on the harnesses and leashes so that if a situation arose I was quick at getting them on and out the door from previous practice.

What do you all think? Can you share any other ideas you have?
post #2 of 26
6 carriers and a cart? Does your building have a fire-safe elevator? If not, I'd put all of the cats into carriers, carry two carriers down the stairs with me, and leave the other 4 carriers at the foot of the stairs. Then, tell the fire-fighters that you have cats in four carriers on the 4th floor.

Actually, the best thing to do is probably to call/visit your local fire station and talk to the fire fighters. When they aren't fighting fires, two of the things they are doing are cruising neighborhoods to make sure they know where everything is and planning for contingencies. Giving residents in their area advice on fire planning is part of their job, and I'm sure they much prefer to do it now then in even of a fire in your building.
post #3 of 26
I had my house catch fire one time and did everything wrong. We were able to put the fire out by ourselves fairly quickly, but it did make me stop and think about what I would do in the future.

Keep yourself calm. If you start running around trying to grab carriers/harnesses/etc, your cats will panic and head under the bed (mine all did). Keep everything that you want to evacuate in one location. Close the doors to your bedrooms if you know they are not inside.

Use a method that is the quickest. Frankly, if that means throwing cats into a pillow case and carrying them out, do it. And the more cats you have, the more the panic will set in as you start reaching for cats and trying to contain them. In a fire, you might only have seconds to get yourself organized.

I've had tornado drills with my cats where I herd them to the basement. I have enough carriers to hold all of my cats for planned evacuations. But with 10 cats and 3 dogs, my fire escape plan would be to toss them out the closest window, and even though oxygen can flame a fire, I would leave the windows open. I live in the country in a sprawling 1 story house. I've seen how fast a house can catch fire and I know in my heart I wouldn't get all of them out. My plan would be dramatically different if I only had a few cats.
post #4 of 26
I have a trolley that I use for shows which the carriers are kept on, they have a carrier each but I would probably throw them all into one in an emergency (and they are used to sharing carriers)

Mine are harness and voice trained, but probably wouldn't chance them on that in a panic.
post #5 of 26
Well, if you live in an apartment in other level than the ground, you will need to take the stairs - so forget about the dolly...

I think that in case of emergency you need really to grab them, throw them in a sac (maybe an oversized laundry bag? or two, and run out as fast as you can. If you make things too complicated during a fire, you may all lose your lives - not only the cats...

Please if you don't have it yet, get one of these safety packs from ASPCA, that instructs the firefighters to rescue your pets in case of emergency. This can save their lives if you happen to be away from home, or have too many pets...
post #6 of 26
There do exist fire-hardened elevators, and in very large buildings, a fire in one part can take a fairly long time to get to another part of the building. missymotus, that was exactly the type of cart/dolly I was thinking about.

Someone posted here not too long ago that there was a fire in her apartment, and firefighters told her not to evacuate herself and her cats, because the fire was small and contained to another part of the building.

There are many reasons to evacuate: where I live now, I think of long-term, long-distance evacuation in case of a serious earthquake that disrupts the infrastructure (no water, no new food supplies), and when I lived in Florida I thought about evacuation in front of hurricanes. Only a few types of evacuations would be expected to be very fast. And if I could grab a cat to put it in a sac, I could grab a cat to put it in a carrier. I would not have time to do either in case of a fire in my apartment (as opposed to in the building), but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be prepared to do a slightly slower evacuation. I think it is important to have a carrier for every cat, because I think that if you've got time to catch the cats, you're likely to be gone for a while and need to give your cats the best chance to do as well as possible.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
There do exist fire-hardened elevators, and in very large buildings, a fire in one part can take a fairly long time to get to another part of the building. missymotus, that was exactly the type of cart/dolly I was thinking about.

Someone posted here not too long ago that there was a fire in her apartment, and firefighters told her not to evacuate herself and her cats, because the fire was small and contained to another part of the building.

There are many reasons to evacuate: where I live now, I think of long-term, long-distance evacuation in case of a serious earthquake that disrupts the infrastructure (no water, no new food supplies), and when I lived in Florida I thought about evacuation in front of hurricanes. Only a few types of evacuations would be expected to be very fast. And if I could grab a cat to put it in a sac, I could grab a cat to put it in a carrier. I would not have time to do either in case of a fire in my apartment (as opposed to in the building), but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be prepared to do a slightly slower evacuation. I think it is important to have a carrier for every cat, because I think that if you've got time to catch the cats, you're likely to be gone for a while and need to give your cats the best chance to do as well as possible.
Please - do NOT count on fire proof elevators. You can do your research - The idea came up after 9/11, and manufacturing was supposed to start in 2008 for NEW very TALL buildings. Even if there are fireproof elevators out there, they are by far the exception, NOT the rule. I travel around the country about 2x/week - have been in just about all major hotel chains all over the country NEVER have I seen a fireproof elevator. Not even in the biggest hotels in Las Vegas (3-5,000 rooms).
Evacuate as soon as you can - you are better off on safe grounds than getting trapped because you thought the fire was not big deal. Depending on the structure of the building, fire can spread EXTREMELY fast.
ALWAYS be safer than sorry - if you evacuate very quickly the worst it can happen is 6 unhappy cats and yourself safely waiting downstairs, and coming back home. Do NOT play with fire. Please don't!
post #8 of 26
I have 5 cats and a small elderly dog .. I have five soft carrier s in a tub by the door and one rolling carrier by the door ... I also know if worst came to worst I could have 3 of my six follow me out as they are trained to do
post #9 of 26
The fire-protected elevator bit came from an NPR story I heard last January.

I wasn't asking anyone to assume they had a fire protected elevator. You should simply check what type of elevator your building has! If your building is not a sky-scraper, it probably does not have a fire protected elevator. If it is a sky-scraper in San Francisco, it probably does have a fire protected elevator. In Las Vegas, the elevators in the stratosphere are fire protected.

Most elevators can be controlled by fire-fighters in the case of a fire (you know, that nice fire-key?), and, in certain conditions (fire not threatening that elevator, elevator protected from opening into floors with an active fire), it might be possible for fire-fighters to escort you down an elevator, with your cats.

In sky-scrapers, people have died from smoke inhalation in fires where they would have all survived if they didn't evacuate. The details of evacuation are extremely dependent upon the building and upon the fire. This is why I think anyone with any questions or concerns should talk to their local fire-fighters about their building and the fire department's procedures.

I live in a 2nd story apartment, and there is no elevator. I have two cats and two carriers, so my plan is to just carry them downstairs, but in case of a fire in my Apartment or anywhere on my side of the building, I doubt I'd be able to save them. Maybe Athena, who is much easier to handle, but not Artemis.
post #10 of 26
My three cats are trained to come when I call in a specific way. I call them this way three or four times a month and toss down their favorite treats as soon as they respond - you can bet the greedy little things respond immediately.

Back in June, there was an electrical fire in my apartment building and we were given only seconds to evacuate. Thank God I'd trained the cats because even with all the noise (the fire kept setting off explosions that were WAY loud), all three cats came to me when I called. I stuffed them in the carrier I had ready just for that purpose and rushed to the door - to be met by a fireman who was quite adamant that I was to leave RIGHT THEN.

Thankfully, no one, animal or human, was hurt in the incident, and I only lost a few things.

Having now experienced an emergency, though, I'm hyper conscious about how fast you have to move. This Saturday, I am picking up (God willing) two kittens to add to my family and I've already taken steps to ensure that in another emergency, I still only have to make one trip out the door. In fact, though I very much want to adopt all four kittens from my foster litter, this is part of the reason I'm only bringing two home.

You never want an emergency to happen, of course, but planning for one is nothing but smart.
post #11 of 26
What kind of rapport do you have with your neighbours? Could you talk with them in advance, mentioning that you have cats and if they could help you carry them out if an emergency were to arise. Might not always be possible, but it's an idea that might help you.

I have a carrier big enough to hold both Belle and Delilah, kept in a room in my house. However, if something immediate were to arise, they would go into a pillow case and come with me. I want to get a couple soft sided carriers for emergency's sake that I could keep in a more convenient location (there is just no space in my apartment).
post #12 of 26
In 2006 my apartment building caught on fire and we had to evacuate. I was cut off from my cat carrier (which I kept in a storage unit) and had to use pillowcases. Now for my two boys I use over the shoulder collapsible soft sided carriers which fold down flat to save space and keep them strategically placed separately in the apartment. For extra safety, both carriers I have are big enough to hold both cats, so if I couldn’t get to one carrier, we could still get out of there right away.

I wouldn’t trust 6 of even the best trained cats on a leash in the event of an emergency – I would assume they would panic from the frightening sights, smells and sounds (my cats did during the fire…). Perhaps you could get two of the big over the shoulder types (to hold two cats each) for 4 of them and then work on training just the two largest ones to walk on the leash.

As mentioned, you would probably receive assistance from your neighbors if they saw you struggling with them, and at least having some plan is better than being caught completely off guard!
post #13 of 26
I have 3 soft sided carriers that we keep out in our bedroom at all times. We just bought a house, but the cats are only on the main floor (it's a 1-story with a basement). In an emergency we can sling them over our shoulders and get out quickly.

When not in use, the cats like to sleep in their carriers. We call them cat dens. I also have 2 other carriers downstairs (spares I guess).
post #14 of 26
I agree with the suggestion of stopping by your local fire house and asking their advice - they may well have someone stop by to give you specific, explicit advice (and, if you have good management, they'll be delighted to have the fire department stop by). I finally got another carrier, just in case - but I do worry in emergency mine will hide and not come out.

In no case depend on a elevator, unless first responders specifically tell you to take the elevator. I work in Sears Tower, in a city full of skyscrapers - even for a small evacuation, you are instructed to take the stairs if you are physcially capable. Believe me, Sears Tower takes fire and other emergency training seriously. While elevators can be used in an evacuation, always listen to the fire department and trained building security. They may restrict access to their own people, for getting responders up, not people down. It will depend on the situation.

We have fire drills twice a year - amazing how many people head for the elevators year after year - and yes, they are waved to the stairwells by the wardens. Also, OT, but ladies, please have decent walking shoes in your office in case of drill or actual emergency - ideally you'll be wearing the darn things when the alarm goes off. If you are in those pretty heels that you cannot walk quickly in, you will be asked to take them off and not hold up people behind you - and the asking will be stern. And it won't be a request at all in an emegency - you will be walking barefoot if need be.
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post

I've had tornado drills with my cats where I herd them to the basement. I have enough carriers to hold all of my cats for planned evacuations. But with 10 cats and 3 dogs, my fire escape plan would be to toss them out the closest window, and even though oxygen can flame a fire, I would leave the windows open. I live in the country in a sprawling 1 story house. I've seen how fast a house can catch fire and I know in my heart I wouldn't get all of them out. My plan would be dramatically different if I only had a few cats.
TEN CATS! WOW! I agree with your logic, I've considered if it came down to it and the stairwell was clear, if my only choice was to open the door and let them run out with the possibility of them running out of the building to the outdoors, I'd still take that chance to keep them alive, and hope I could find them after.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinalima View Post

Please if you don't have it yet, get one of these safety packs from ASPCA, that instructs the firefighters to rescue your pets in case of emergency. This can save their lives if you happen to be away from home, or have too many pets...
Thanks carolinalima, I do have one of those packs from the ASPCA. I sometimes wonder what my neighbors think when they pass my door and see the sign in the window saying I have 6 cats lol
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoeysmom View Post
What kind of rapport do you have with your neighbours? Could you talk with them in advance, mentioning that you have cats and if they could help you carry them out if an emergency were to arise. Might not always be possible, but it's an idea that might help you.
I've only recently started talking to my neighbor across the hall from me, he knows about the cats, but he's an older man and I think would have a hard enough time getting out himself. I wouldn't know how to approach him, since I'd basically be asking him to risk time/his safety to help me.

Also, I don't have an elevator in my apartment, I have to hoof it up the 4 flights lol
post #18 of 26
So I've been thinking about this thread a lot lately, what with my new kittens/fosters returning (this Saturday - thank Heavens!) and I think I'm going to purchase some additional supplies.

One, I'm going to get the biggest cat cage I can find. I know it'll be a few hundred dollars, but if I end up at some kind of emergency shelter, the cats will be a lot happier in one or two big cages than in several small carriers (also, they'll stand out in people's minds, so there will be less possibility for confusion as to whom they belong). I've heard a lot of good things about Ferret Nation cages and from the pics I've seen they look sturdy and of high quality. I don't know how much room there is on each level, though; a cage the cats can't sit tall in will do them no good at all. Once I buy the cage, I'm going to bring it to work or to a sister's home or something - someplace other than my own home so I don't have to worry about getting it out in an emergency (in keeping with the "one trip only" theme).

Also, I'm going to invest in some soft-side carriers. I saw one on petco's website that'll fit two cats, maybe three. Since I can sling these over my shoulders, I can carry up to four of them. That's at least eight cats, and the max I'll end up with (if I keep all four fosters) is seven.

Finally, I'm going to keep copies of their medical records at work, so there won't be any guessing about who had what done when.

All of this will make me much more comfortable with the thought of owning five, maybe seven little furballs.
post #19 of 26
There are stickers you can put on your window for firefighters to know how many cats you have inside and to rescue them. In an emergency situation when you already know you have enough carriers for the cats, soft carriers so you can sling them over your shoulder, you will have tons of adrenaline and we probably be able to carry all those pounds of kitties out safety to save their life in the heat of moment, it won't even be a thought of you can't or they are so heavy, but rather you will have thoughts only for their survival Who cares if they aren't comfortable in the carrier, at least they will be safe and sound Glad you are thinking about this now
post #20 of 26
I have 21 cats combined with the indoor and out door. My DH has recently attached the cat barn outside to our sun room. In case of emergency we go out the cat barn to the van outside and pack all cats in and drive away down the road a bit. For all the barn animals. In case of fire all barn animals will be moved outside into the pastures
post #21 of 26
I love the sound of the soft carriers that you are all talking about that can be slung over your shoulder - holds 2 to 3 cats.
Was wondering if someone could post a picture for me to look at and maybe see if we have them here in Australia,am very interested.
Thanks.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cats Ma! View Post
Was wondering if someone could post a picture for me to look at and maybe see if we have them here in Australia,am very interested.
Thanks.
I got this one from Cheap as Chips for under $10


and this from Big W for $40


Both my boys are 6.5kg and don't really fit in them anymore, my little girl is around 4kg and fits nicely inside.

You can find some on Ebay if you search for cat carrier. You might find one for dogs that could fit 2 cats in. Mine have hard sided PP20's.
post #23 of 26
Thanks Missymotus will have a look at Big W and ebay.
Thought i recognised your avatar from elsewhere.
Where is Cheap as Chips?
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cats Ma! View Post
Where is Cheap as Chips?
looked on the website, they are only in SA & Vic - sorry. Have you got the reject shop up there? they might have something

This one should fit at least 2 cats
post #25 of 26
Thanks for the info i will have a look around.
post #26 of 26
Thanks for this thread & the info in it -- it has me thinking & planning more concretely.
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