Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear Fellow Felines:
So my furry friends, it’s that time of year again — the time when our staffs hyper ventilate and reach for their glasses of wine at the Weather Channel’s merest utterance of any or all of the following words/phrases: tropical storm, hurricane watch, category 3,4 or 5 monster storm, cone of danger, predicted path of travel, and target landfall. And thus is launched what can only be described as “hurricane mania,” that heart rate inducing frenzy that compels our staffs (remember, cats have staff, dogs have owners) to race through the house, gathering up batteries, wind-up weather radios, kitty carriers, litter boxes, extra food, extra litter and car chargers for their cell phones. Mandated evacuation is the highest level of response, a worst case scenario if you will, like when Hurricane Wilma plowed through our island on Oct. 24, 2005. But as far as I know, only a few kitties were displaced by the chaos of Wilma; they either found their way back home, or were rescued by kind-hearted people.
In fact, one of my staff found a beautiful Egyptian Mau wandering the streets. It is cases like this that best illustrate the importance of being microchipped and outfitted with a lime green or florescent pink collar that is accessorized with a tag bearing your name and your person’s cell phone number. For the tech saavy staffs out there, it is possible to attach a very small GPS unit to our collars. However, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel this is an invasion of my privacy.
I assume your staffs have conscientiously outlined an evacuation plan. But it’s hard for us felines — the most territorial of creatures — to leave our turf unprotected. So, you rightly ask, what’s a guy or gal to do, especially when mom and dad get out the carrier with naive expectations of securing us in solitary confinement all the while claiming “its for your own safety?”
Before you get mad,I feel it is my responsibility to give your staffs a tip or two on getting you into your new “mobile home” without injuring you. The easiest method is to stand the carrier on end with the door open. Then gently scruff by the neck your nervous, hissing and spitting kitty while using your free hand to support its hind end. Then — with the finesse of a ballet dancer — lower said feline, tail first, into its new abode. Ask your staff to put a couple of comfy, Egyptian cotton towels in the bottom of the carrier.
With all of the foregoing preparations squared away, the big question now is where should your happy family go once the island’s residents are asked to evacuate. There are many pet-friendly hotels in the area — my personal favorite being The Ritz Carleton in Naples since I am, after all, Marco Island’s most esteemed tortie. And I especially like their room service menu! For families with nowhere else to go, the Collier County Bureau of Emergency services offers a pet-friendly shelter at North Collier Regional Park on Livingston Road. The pet capacity there is 75 cats and dogs, but you must pre-register. For more information go to: www.colliergov.net?index.aspx?page=1877l. This site also includes a comprehensive list of pet-friendly hotels in the Naples/Marco Island/Everglades areas.
Now lets get down to the tasty stuff. With exactly what supplies should your staff pack your suitcase? For starters, a two-week supply of cat food, preferably the gourmet flavored ones in the flip-top cans. Yes, you heard me right — TWO WEEKS worth of canned (and dry if they must) food, along with a couple gallon jugs of water and lots of treats. You can never have too many treats, right? And no, I am not making this dream-come-true advice up. It’s right there in black and white in my For the Love of Cats “Hurricane Planning Guide For Your Pets.” Of course, as shelter supervisor, I’m the one who put this guide together. Explains the emphasison food, right?
And please remind your staff to gather your health records (vaccinations, allergies, medications), as well as the name of your microchip company, their telephone number and your chip number. Suggest your staff make up a flyer ahead of time — with your photo and their contact information — to distribute around the hood in case you get separated (cats don’t get lost; they “accidentally” slither out). I’d suggest your humans take 10 copies along so operation “rescue-my-feline” can be launched immediately! Other items that should be stowed away should a hurricane hover near our island paradise, include extra litter, a two-week supply of medications, paper towels, dish soap and toys.
Now onto the shelter news front. I am still tending to lots of kittens and advising the momma cats on how to take care of these feisty little balls of fun, fur and energy. The most crucial skill I teach these youngsters is how to sneak food to yours truly. And as one would expect, overseeing this kitten mayhem is wearing me out. I’m not as young as I was a few years ago, so the woes of aging have drained my energy levels. In fact, it got so bad last week that shelter founders Jim and Jan Rich granted me an emergency visa so I could retreat to their “safe house.” Now that I think about it, I guess you could say I was in the feline witness protection program.
Finally, and you know how much I love giving orders, the 2015 Glamour Puss Calendar contest ends on June 14, so get your staffs moving and insist they submit photos of you being your most adorable selves. Also, please don’t forget to check out the kitten cam on my website: www.fortheloveofcatsfl.com.
Love, nips, purrs and safe travels!
Namoi is a 5 1/2-year-old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com