How to help prevent your cat getting lost when a wildfire approaches?

NEWS AND COMMENT: There is a story coming out of Polson, Montana, USA, about a lucky cat who escaped a wildfire. I am happy that Astro made it back to his family. He was burnt and bruised with damaged lungs and swollen paws. Some whiskers were missing. He was singed but he made it. The interesting aspect of the story for me is how he escaped and why he escaped before the family evacuated and drove away from the wildfire. That’s the most important part of the story for me, not the reuniting of cat with family. This is because when I read stories about these wildfires I read about lost cats. In an ideal world the cat should evacuate with the family so how do you achieve that?

Alia Tavenner and Astro reunited
Alia Tavenner and Astro reunited. Photo: Megan Mannering/MTN News
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The story of Astro helps us understand what to do. It is told by Alia Tavenner. She said that as the wildfire approached there was some ash in the air. The night was unusually warm. She became worried and decided that she would have to evacuate and should prepare. She said:

“Right before he was about to get into the pickup truck he dashed out. We were all like “The cat ran off…Astro, Astro, where’s Astro?”

The wording implies that Astro was not in a carrier and that he was expected to jump into the vehicle.

Preparation is all important

Astro disappeared between the “packing and panicking” according to the author of the article on 8KPAX. It seems to me that the way to prevent cats running off is to put them in a cat carrier BEFORE you start packing and panicking – well in advance of leaving. Everything is normal in your life and you put your cat in the cat carrier as per the method I described on another page which you can read by clicking here. I’m not saying you should follow my method but I know my method works.

The point here is that the domestic cat picks up small changes in their environment. In this instance there were big changes. Clearly something untoward was happening. There was a threat in the air from the cat’s perspective. He had to get out and run away which is exactly what he did. To avoid that you put him in the carrier when his life is completely normal and there he stays until you leave. It might be an hour in the carrier but so be it. This is far better than losing your cat at a time when there is danger all around.

Lung damage?

Alia says that Astro might have, or actually has, lung damage. If that’s true then it may affect him all his life. I’m not saying that it is an easy matter to prevent your cat running away but it can and must be done, in my view. I have never experienced being in a wildfire so it is difficult for me to comment with any authority. A lot of people might think that I should stay out of the matter, I’m sure.

However, common sense dictates that good and early preparation might avoid the loss of a beloved domestic a companion and/or injury as described.


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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