Cattery Emergencies

In case of Fire:

First of all, have and maintain a really good functioning smoke alarm system. Many are tied in with a monitored system and are electric, many are run by batteries.........these should be tested and changed at least yearly. Also, have furnances, AC, and other major electrical systems checked out regularly.

Secondly, plan your contingent escape routes - you need at least two (if exit 1 is blocked, go to exit 2, etc.). It would be super if the cattery had its own entrance/exit but many fires do start in the cattery.

If you have the opportunity to plan the cattery before it is built, try to work in such precautions as having "water (spray) resistant" electrical outlets -- or place electrical outlets high on the wall, e.g. above spraying level.

Plan for the devices you'll use to transport the cats - evac sacks, carriers, pillow cases, and have these readily available to use.

Realize that in most cases you'll have a maximum of 90 seconds to "grab and git".

Don't keep your carriers all in the same room, or in the garage or in the basement! Keep pillowcases near the doors so you can access them easily, cat's don't mind being in pillowcases. Make sure all your cages that are able to fit through a doorway have wheels. Make sure to get the cats that roam free out first, before they have a chance to hide.

If smoke is coming under a door or you smell smoke and the door feels warm, don't open it. Take a chair and bash out the window to climb out. Throw the chair out the window. Have a place to meet outside. If you are escaping out a door, take a chair or know you have one outside. In a one story house you can bash windows from the outside to rescue people and possibly loose cats.

Fire Depts. are glad to give you safety information for your type of house. Finally, practice your plan.........regularly. If you live in a cattery-friendly area, talk with your local firemen and let them know about your set-up....also your neighbors. If you have an security system, let them know you have multiple pets.

Signs in Cattery

Who Is In Charge?

Clearly post in your cat area you need large signs indicating what and how you want things handled. A list of Emergency Numbers must be available. A list of the cats and cat identifiers (see below for discussion of tattoo, microchip, photos or whatever).

If some disaster happens to you, accident, illness, whatever, PLAN WHAT & WHO NEEDS TO BE NOTIFIED AND WHO SHOULD BE IN CHARGE OF THE CATS AND CATTERY. You need to plan in advance for funds to be available to handle any costs until long-term arrangements can go into effect. This involves notification of your cat sitter, your veterinarian, your family or next-of-kin. You need "power-of-attorney" authorization to be place for handling an legal or registrational issues should you be incapacitated long-term.

The Garden State Cat Club Manual on Cattery Management has a good section on preparation for emergencies (Contact XXX. )

Cat Identification:

After being involved in trying to IDENTIFY cats belonging to a couple in a tragic auto accident, I decided to set up an identification system. I thought tattoing would be a great idea and have the following comments on this approach:

The tattoo must be in an area not readily apparent in case of a show cat. The inside of the thigh is recommended rather than inside the ear or inside the lip as in other species. This area is not readily visable, so you would need to inform everyone to look in that area. The area has to be shaved to provide bare skin to do the tattoo, and to read it easily. Also, let's face it, our vets are not tattoo artists. The identifier (last part of the registration number) must be legibly applied My vet tried, but honestly, his handwriting with a pen on paper is pretty bad! Also, the cat will not willingly submit to this procedure and a strong sedative/anesthetic is needed. The tattoo tool is not terribly expensive (about $50) but good hygiene/sterile technique should be used. !!!!!

Microchipping:

The next identification procedure I tried was/is microchipping. I continue to do this for the cats I keep, especially the "look-alikes". The microchip is inserted via a 16 gauge needle under the skin between the shoulder blades. No anesthetic is needed but you have to get a really firm grip on the cat when it is done. I'm told that occasionally the chip winds up out of position, but it is very easy to scan the entire area and find the chip. You need to confirm the chip number when you insert it to be sure you record the correct number. The procedure is relatively inexpensive; about $15 per chip plus your vet's cost (less if you do it yourself). Also, most of the companies who maintain a data-base with the owner information have a fee of about $10-15. One new company has no registration fee [<http://www.pet-id.net/>].

You will also need to get a scanner to read the number. Most (but not all) scanners produced in the US will read the number of chips produced by other US manufacturers. This is a potential problem. Infection at the site would have to be considered to be a potential risk for the procedure.

The AKC worked with Pfizer to set up and maintain a data base with microchip information as part of the registration information and as an aid in identification of lost animals [<http://www.akc.org/love/car>]. The procedure was apparently also offered to cfa but was not accepted by them.

In Australia, there is an effort to microchip all animals. Any animal that repeatedly strays can result in the imposition of a fine on the owner!

In Europe and soon UK, the microchip is used to identify an animal's immune status, e.g. for importation, etc. This will minimize the quarantine requirements for a documented rabies immune animal when it goes into effect in 2001?

Other Methods:

Cage signs and photos of cats maintained centrally or on the cat's cage are probably the least expensive way to identify the cats. Cats do change as they age (don't we all?) and so this procedure would need to be updated regularly. Right!

Another problem is that the sign doesn't move with the cat. If there is a disaster that damages the physical environment, the signs could be damaged or useless if the cat is removed without taking the sign with it. This probably won't happen in an emergency situation. In my house, I often move cats around--to give a mother with kittens a larger cage, to repair/refinish a cage, whatever. The signs often stay with the old cage for some time.