Make sure you and your pet are prepared for any emergency by following these tips:

Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit. 

Keep at least three days’ worth of food in an airtight, waterproof container

Store at least three days’ worth of water specifically for your pets, in addition to the water you need for yourself and your family

Medicine and medical records
Keep an extra supply of all the medicines that your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container

First Aid Kit

  • What to include in your pet first aid kit:
  • Cotton swabs, or cotton balls: used to clean wounds and areas around your cat’s eyes and ears. Do not stick a cotton swab in your pet’s eyes or ears. 
  • Cotton bandage roll: used to bandage a wound
  • Gauze: used to wrap a wound and keep underlying cotton in place. 
  • Veterinary or surgical tape
  • Blunt-tip Scissors
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Isopropyl alcohol: used to disinfect wounds
  • Saline solution: used to clean a wound as well as to wash out an irritated eye. 
  • Thermal blanket: used to keep your pet warm and regulate temperature.
  • Cold pack: used to reduce swelling. Make sure to keep your cat from chewing on cold packs, as they do contain toxins inside. 
  • Digital thermometer and lube: make sure to keep a constant eye on your pet’s temperature to prevent any sudden spikes or drops due to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 
  • Antihistamine: Be sure to check with your vet first before giving to your pet. Antihistamines contain diphenhydramine, which can cause an allergic reaction in some pets. 

Be sure to keep up with these materials by checking their expiration dates every six months. If a material is expired, toss it and replenish your supply. Items should be stored in a waterproof container.

Collar with ID tag, harness, or leash
Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about a microchip for permanent identification, as well as enrolling your pet in a recovery database.

Copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents
Place in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container. 

Crate or other pet carrier
Your ability to transport your pets in an emergency situation will be aided by having a safe, sturdy, comfortable crate or carrier ready to go. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down in.

Include litter and a litter box, as well as newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency situation, you can also use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.

A picture of you and your pet together
If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.

Familiar items
Put favorite toys, treats, or bedding in the kit. Familiar items can help reduce your pet’s stress.

Plan What You Will Do in an Emergency

Be prepared to assess the situation. Use whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet’s safety in the case of an emergency. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision you have to make is whether you will stay put or get away.

You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not be able to quickly provide information about the situation and what you should do. However, you can always watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for instructions. If you’re specifically told to evacuate, stay in, or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Create a plan to get away. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you as long as that is a practical option. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance, depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends that would be willing to take in both you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital, that is near an evacuation facility or your family’s meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets.

Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet’s emergency supply kit. In addition, designate specific locations – one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away – where you will meet in case of an emergency.

Talk to your veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet’s emergency first aid kit. Get the names of veterinarians or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about a microchip for permanent identification, as well as enrolling your pet in a recovery database. If your pet has a microchip, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to helping you reunite with your pet.

Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies, animal shelters, and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet’s emergency supply kit. Obtain “Pets Inside” stickers and place them on your doors or windows; these stickers include information on the number and types of pets in your home in order to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words “Evacuated with Pets” across the stickers, should you flee with your pets.

Stay Informed About the Types of Emergencies In Your Area

It’s important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region, as well as emergency plans that have been established by your state and local government. For more information about how to prepare, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY.

Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene.

If you are interested in learning more about emergency preparedness, Anti-Cruelty offers a Pet First Aid & CPR class available to the community. Enrollment is $50. More information can be found on the Events page of our website. 

If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email

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