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Hurricane Katrina Pet Remembrance Day – 8/29

August 28, 2007

In an effort to remember all the pets that were left behind after Hurricane Katrina made landfall two years ago, I would like to share several disaster readiness tips for pet parents that I found beneficial to follow. I hope these assist you when setting a plan for coping with the effects of disasters of any kind to remember to provide for your beloved pets’ health and safety needs, in addition to any you have in place for your human family members.

Emergency and Disaster Animal Preparedness

As a conscientious animal owner you probably consider your pets as members of the family. In the event that a natural disaster hits your neck of the woods, are you prepared to take your pets with you and provide for all their needs during the evacuation time? If not, here are some guidelines:

Food and Water: Stock up on dry or canned food, being sure to include a mechanical can opener.  When putting down a water supply, remember to have plenty available or your pet as well as a drinking bowl.  A good rule is to pack a 5-7 day supply.

Medications: Be certain to have a sufficient supply on hand. Keep a photocopy of essential or life-supporting pet prescriptions in your emergency kit.

Identification: Microchipping your dog or cat will increase your chances of reuniting in case of separation during an emergency. By embedding a microchip with your contact information under your pet’s skin, a veterinarian or animal facility, with a simple scan, will be able to identify an animal’s owners.  In some evacuation cases, a pet may have to go to a separate shelter or veterinary kennel since human shelters frequently prohibit animals for health and space reasons. If you reside in an area where evacuations are likely, be informed about pet shelter options before disaster strikes. In addition to microchipping, if you and your animals must be separated, be certain you also have your pets securely tagged and keep photocopies of the tags (and rabies tags as well) in your emergency kit. Also, have recent photos of your pets to make identifications easy and swift.

Transporting: If you must evacuate, make every effort to bring your pet.  To ensure safe evacuation for a pet who may be stressed or agitated by the situation, use tagged leashes, collars and/or harnesses and keep the animal close by family members for both comfort and security. Smaller pets, especially felines, are best transported in well-ventilated wire crates or carriers.

Sanitation, First Aid: Pads, paper towels, rags, a litter supply, and pet-safe disinfectant will come in handy.  Add some over-sized bandages and gauze strips to your family first aid kit if you have a larger animal. 

Comfort Zone: A favorite blanket or chew toy can be just the thing to provide a sense of security for an animal under stress. In such times, take a moment to reassure your best friend that you are there, protecting him or her.

Credit: North Shore Animal League

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Cat Bite Girl

January 11, 2006

Never mess with cat bites.

I spent last night in the hospital getting IV antibiotics for an infected cat bite. I was discharged at 4:00am and sent home with a prescription for heavy duty horse-pill antibiotics which I will be taking for the next 10 days. I’ve been bitten twice, so far. Both by kitties who were stressed and upset, but who had to be restrained for one reason or another.

Thumb Cat BiteThe first one was on December 28th and she bite me on my left thumb. I had to reach into a cat trap to retrieve her because she wasn’t going into a carrier on her own. She was easy to retrieve from the trap, but as soon as I tried to put her into a carrier to transfer her to a crate she sprawled her legs out, as cats do so well. So I reached with my left hand to remove her legs from the sides and she bit me. Although it was painful for a few days, there was no complications. It’s already healed, in fact. I went to the emergency room directly after it happened, which you should always do. They had me soak it in sterile iodine and prescribed some heavy duty antibiotics. The photo is one I took in the hospital after they bandaged it up, it looks more swollen than it was because of the gauze they wrapped around it.

Cat Bite ForearmMy second bite happened a few days ago on January 8th and a different cat chomped my left forearm. Mike and I were moving her from her crate into a carrier because she was being transferred to her new mom out in Utah. We transfer kitties in a large carrier with food and water and a small litter box. We had the food and water in there with her, but needed to put the litter box in. As soon as we opened the door to the carrier, she bolted. There were more people than normal in the cat area and they all started chasing her, trying to catch her. Not the best judgment call. Cats should never be chased, it just freaks them out more. So, I told them to stand still and to move slowly towards her so she could be backed into a corner. They got her into a corner and I went in to scruff her. I had a good scruff on her and immediately went to pull her up – it’s always best to work with gravity to help weigh an adult cat down so they can’t twist up and scratch or bite you. Anyway, when I backed up while scruffing the cat, one of the volunteers was hovering over my shoulder and I knocked into her and lost my grip. At that point, the cat had enough leverage to chomp several times on my forearm.

I put her down and asked Mike to try and corral her into a carrier again and let him know that I was going to the emergency room, again. I found it amusing that all the nurses remembered me and I got the same doctor. Heehee. The doctor looked at it and had a nurse apply some iodine and wrap it up. He prescribed antibiotics, but they were a weaker kind. This one hurt way more than the bite I received on my thumb. It still hurts, actually. Unfortunately, it also became infected, which is why I spent the evening getting liquid antibiotics dripped into my veins.

Cat Bite IVBefore I went to sleep on the 9th, I noticed the skin around the bite was still really swollen and starting to develop a rash. I thought it was just a little irritated, so I cleaned it up really well and bandaged it up again. Yesterday, after showering, I looked at it really well and noticed it was worse than the night before. It was really sensitive, more swollen and the rash had deepened in color and spread up my arm. Super. I haven’t experienced anything like this before, so I asked for some other opinions. There is a paramedic, an EMT and an EMT in training who are working here. They all stressed that I should return to the emergency room to get it checked out, so I did.

It was one of the most severe bacterial infections this doctor had seen from a cat bite. He told me that if I had waited another day, I would have had to spend at least 4 days on IV antibiotics. Yikes.

Hopefully, I won’t get bitten again, but I’m not holding my breath. It is just a risk one takes when working with animals. By the way, both the cats are doing just fine. 😉

Just for fun, I’m adding a darling photo I had a friend take of a kitten who loves riding around in the pocket of my scrub tops.

Tabby Kitten

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