Cat Bug Out Bag

How do you bug out with pets? Are you even prepared to do so? Do you have a plan? Well, let’s create a cat bug out bag! Late last week my cat had to go to the vet. Simple nail trim, nothing terribly exciting. But, it got me thinking about this. Because it occurred to me that I am not ready to be able to bug out with my furry little munchkin if something happened. That is a problem for me. Time to fix it!

The first question I’ve been asked is, what does it mean to bug out? Well, it is basically an evacuation with absolutely no time to prepare. Think house fire, natural disaster, even something big like a terrorist attack where you want to leave the area you live. It’s getting out of dodge, to say it nicely. I will be talking about bug out bags in a later post, and what to pack in them. Basically you want a bag that if you had to run out the door with less than 2 minutes to spare, you have the necessary items to at least survive with more than the clothes you’re wearing.

Shortly before our appointment, my husband had to go hunt down the key to our shed, go out to the shed, get the carrier, and then come back in the house. The thing I noticed about this was how time consuming that is. It isn’t like it took him forever, really. I mean, it isn’t difficult to run out to the shed for something that is right in front and grab it to bring back in the house. But, we were also a bit rushed at this point, so it really did feel like it took forever.

We had a bit of time, but we were 10 minutes later leaving than what we wanted, and 5 away from being there right at our scheduled time, if not late. If you’re anything like me, I plan to leave 15 minutes earlier than what I have to because things happen. Especially with my cat. So we had almost used up our allotted spare time. I was feeling a bit rushed, and of course he wouldn’t cooperate. He’s a jerk like that. I had to take my shoes off just to go hunt him down (we don’t allow shoes on our living room rug) and then put them back on while my husband chased him around the dining room when he escaped the carrier. Insert half laughter and half swearing and annoyance here. We have a mesh carrier that zips open and closed on both sides.

The issues I immediately noticed were how long it took him to go get the carrier, and then the fact my cat was able to escape while we were putting him in the carrier because of the zippers being old and tough to close. Also, zippers do fail. They get old, they don’t stay zipped, or the teeth just come undone even when zipped up. That’s a big problem in terms of my cat being able to escape.

Then the question becomes, what do I want to do to fix this? Because the first thing that popped into my mind was, if there was a fire in the house, by the time we had the carrier to put him in, we’d all be dead and the house gone. That is the reality of it. Not really a fun thing to think about, but still reality. I like planning for reality and being ready for it. Which I talked about with my husband on the way home from our vet trip. Because he noticed the carrier issues as well.

The first thing I set my mind to fixing was the carrier. It is old (almost 11 years old) and we had bought it when we bought Tigger and brought him home in it. None of us are getting any younger, and the carrier is in the same boat. It’s been well used, to say the least. It was really cute in terms of design, and kind of a mesh material. Also had a pocket on the back, so we could put stuff in if we wanted to. This time I wanted one that was hard plastic, had the single door, with the metal fence-looking door that was easy to close and latch. We picked one up over the weekend.

The thing that is better with these is, if we’re leaving in a hurry/panic, obviously the cat and carrier are going in the car first. But then we can throw things in after that, and not worry about it hurting him or squishing the carrier and accidentally hurting/squishing him. It is flat on top, which means we can stack things on top too. Extra storage space or that ability to stack things on top is a big thing. Otherwise we would have to put him in on one side of the car, and carefully stack things around him from there. There may not be time for that. Let’s be honest here. Time is likely not our friend in an emergency. So to find a good thing that works with that kind of mindset is even better, in my opinion.

Next came stocking it with necessary supplies. We prep for the cat when we’re at home, making sure we have adequate food, water, and litter. So we should be doing the same for him if we’re having to bug out. I put a blanket into the carrier for him, as he loves them. It is the cheap fleece ones you can buy anywhere for like $2.50. Then if he has an accident on it or scratches it, whatever. Not out any money. But, that gives him not only some comfort while being stuck in the carrier, but a little traction too since the floor in it is slippery. I may end up putting some of the same material that we put under rugs to keep them from slipping in here, just to make him a bit more comfortable. But, this is still a work in progress too.

Now it is time to add everything else. Right now it is all inside the carrier. However, I think I want to get some kind of a bag to put everything in. Like a bug out bag for the cat. I will put bottled water in it. It’s really easy to throw 2-3 bottles in and have them there for him. He obviously needs food. I buy huge bags of his food at Costco, which isn’t feasible to travel with in any way, just due to the size. A simple gallon Ziplock bag with his food in it is perfect.

Right now it is in the quart size bag, and by my estimation, it is 5-ish days worth of food. I can also add canned wet food in. I haven’t decided if the canned wet food is a way I really want to go yet or not. But certainly a viable option in terms of traveling. When we went to the store over the weekend, I was able to find some wet food in small pouches that are about the size of a pack of cigarettes, for reference. That works! Simple and small is what I was looking for.

The one thing I do recommend when stocking food and water in a bug out bag or carrier for a pet is to rotate it out. Exactly the same way we do with our own food and water supplies. I’d say it is even more important with animals because their bodies can’t handle rotten food. Vet bills are expensive. Plus, in an emergency, who really needs the added stress of having another issue come up? I certainly don’t, and that is always why I stress the need to rotate food and stay organized.

After adding the food and water into the carrier, I needed something to serve him his food and water in. He needed bowls. I found some collapsible bowls, that are attached and fold together to take up even less space when not being used. But they are kind of deep too. This is great for water, because he doesn’t drink well out of a shallow bowl. I have a collar and leash in there as well. My cat would rather die than have to use them, and I really have never had the need for it. But, if we’re having to bug out and take him outside of his comfort zone, these may be absolutely necessary.

Medications would also be something to take into consideration. If your pet requires any kind of medication, especially long term, you may want to have a chat with your vet about that, and see if they will prescribe an extra week or even a month for you to have on hand. Also keep it in an easily accessible place if you don’t have extras. That is not something you want to forget.

To recap, I found a great carrier, a blanket inside, food, water, bowls, and a collar/leash for the cat. Next comes, where to keep it? Well, it is now in my office instead of outside in the shed. That way, in the event of an emergency, the time it takes to grab it is greatly reduced and we get to safety that much faster. That is what I call a win-win! I also put a toy and treats in there. Which is not remotely necessary, but my cat is spoiled. I also thought this might alleviate some of the tension and stress of having to bug out, once we got to our new destination.

That is something to think about if you have kids and are planning the ability to bug out as well. Bring something comforting, a treat they like, or a stuffed animal. Is it necessary to aid in survival? Nope. However, it can boost the comfort level and morale, resulting in a much better experience, kid being less cranky, cooperating, things like that. The goal with prepping and being prepared is to make a bad situation not only safer and enhance the chances of survival, but make it a better transition than what it would be without something comforting.

My thought is, I can’t explain to my cat why I’ve just uprooted him from his comfort zone, thrown him into a carrier and ran. Kids are the same way. Can’t exactly explain what is going on if they’re young. But I can make it just a bit more comfortable. Bugging out will be stressful to any pet, and little things may ease that stress a bit.

Another thing to think about when it isn’t an emergency, is to get your pet acclimated to the carrier or kennel that they may be traveling in. My cat being the jerk he is, jumped up on my table yesterday. The new carrier is sitting up there and he was sniffing it. Normally he knows not to be on the table, but I figured I’d take advantage of the situation. I opened the door to the kennel and put him inside. Then just left the door open for a few minutes.

He came part way out, and I basically just kind of blocked his way out and was petting and talking to him. He wasn’t too eager to come out, and in fact pretty happy for the attention. My cat didn’t settle in or anything, but at least he wasn’t trying to kill me getting out either. That is a good start. We put him in it a little while ago as well with a blanket of his, and he stayed pretty well again. It certainly isn’t his favorite place to be, but at the very least I made it so we’re not fighting him going in if there is an emergency. I think this will be something we do fairly often for him to keep him comfortable with it.

Bugging out with pets may not be fun, but in an emergency it may be necessary. Some people would just leave their animals, and that is their choice. However, I would prefer mine to go with me and make preparations to do so. Which is why I’ve made the necessary plans on how to do it. I’m also training my mind to be ready for that. My husband and I talk about this stuff and what we are doing, where we’re keeping everything. That way we are on the same page, and if we’re home together, we know what to do and move together, not fighting each other in chaos.

Moving together as a unit and not in chaos goes back to having a plan. That is a huge step in being more prepared. Something happens (insert any scenario), what do we do? Who does what? Everybody has a job. In this case it would be, he grabs the cat, I grab the carrier and supplies, he puts him in, and off we go. Obviously retrieving our own bags would be important as well, but I’m just talking in terms of getting the cat ready to go.

We are keeping the carrier in a specific place, having everything right there to grab. Nothing moves, it isn’t part of his normal stuff. Which is another big thing I stress in my household. Everything is separate. I have my normal stuff I use daily, then I have the stuff packed in our bug out bags. The bug out bags don’t open to be used and scatter our stuff around. Why? Because things don’t always make it back in. That’s why. It is something I know about myself, and I take into consideration. In the event of an emergency, I don’t have time to go searching for anything. I have time to grab my bag and go.

I’d rather have my stuff together and not waste that time I don’t have to look for anything. I can use my time a lot more wisely if I’m prepared. Bugging out with pet can be stressful, but with the proper planning, it can be a lot easier and less stressful. I always hope that I never have to use these tools and preparations, but I’m always glad to have them just in case. I’d rather have the tools and not need them, instead of needing them and not having them. Hopefully this has helped you and given you some guidelines as to what direction you want to go with preparing to bug out with your pets. Stay safe and always be ready!

52 thoughts on “Cat Bug Out Bag”

  1. This is such an informational post! I’m always worried about emergencies when it comes to my pets – I have 2 cats and a big Saint Bernard. The dog is easy to grab and go, because he’s a good listener. The cats…not so much…

    1. The Prepping Wife

      My husband and I were talking about that exact thing the other day. Dogs are easy because they listen. Cat either stares at you with a dirty look or runs and hides. Lol.

  2. You are very oirganised. I have never thought about this, but when I was reading I started thinking about documents and other important things one might need when fleeing a house in case of a fire, for example. It’s good to have such things ready and at an easily reachable place. Thank you for such an informative blog post.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      One of the first things I did when I decided to become a prepper was go through all of our documents and make sure we had them. My husband thought I was a bit crazy. Like, why do we need that stuff? Then after he had his wallet stolen and had to produce other forms of ID, he got it. We keep all paperwork in manila envelopes in a fireproof safe, which is something I recommend for anyone. Everything is labeled and closed up, but if I need to get in, it’s easy to find. Organization is a huge part of prepping. I am so glad you enjoyed my article and it made you think about other aspects of being prepared. I appreciate you taking the time to read it!

  3. Such a wonderful post with so many terrific tips & information. So many people still do not have plans in place for different reasons & you did a great job of showing the importance! Thank you for sharing – & my hubby is loving your blog so much!

  4. I love the idea of a go bag for my cats, but ive never heard of a zipper carrier, seems like it wouldn’t be enough for a living cat unless they were kittens! (my cats are 11 pounds, 13 and 17ish pounds, though- a tux, a barn tabbi and a maine coon mix) they’d eat that zippered carrier, or sleep on it!

    Maybe I will gather a go bag tonight. House fires are my greatest fear.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I jokingly told my husband that I was going to make our cat famous when we were trying to set up that picture. Lol. I swear he knows when I want a picture of him and he fights me. But when I do get good ones, they are definitely good! I am so glad you enjoyed reading this post and it helped you out. I always hope that more people will start thinking about being better prepared and want to take those steps to doing it after reading my blog.

  5. I’m not a pet owner, but as a mom this is eye-opening. It’s so important to be prepared for the what-ifs. You never know when disaster can strike.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I am working on a post about bug out bags for people as well. I am currently putting mine and my husband’s together now.

  6. Wow! This is really good information. I’ve never really thought about any of this before, but it’s a great idea to be prepared in case of an emergency! I’m going to have to do this myself sometime! Thanks for the information! Great Post!

  7. I will admit I’ve never given thought to my 4 dogs in the event of an emergency, so shame on me. This has certainly put some good ideas in my head on how I should prepare. Thank you

  8. I don’t have a pet. But I am sure many people who do have pets have never thought of emergency evacuation ! You are not only super organized but also possess lots of insights and foresight! I think it’s a a very useful post with lots of great tips!

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I am working on my post for my bug out bag now, Carol! My husband and I are currently organizing it to make sure we have everything. We just finished making a list of everything we need to pick up. My recommendation is practice using your bag once you have it all put together. Also to be careful of weight. That can be a huge issue if having to walk with it for any length of time. I prefer to think we’ll all just jump in the car with them, but that may not always be an option and something I have to be very careful about.

  9. Great post on a topic that not many of us have even thought about before. I know after reading this my brain has started turning in regard to what I would do in an emergency withy little pup Chevy.

    Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed this read!

  10. I remember that one time when we thought our building was filling up with natural gas, so we grabbed our cat Joan Jett, put her in her carrier, grabbed our bug out bag and the wedding pictures and got outta there fast. Nothing came of it, and it was fine, but I wanted to make sure we were prepared for anything. I hope I don’t have to do anything like that again, but if I do, I’ll be sure to keep your tips in mind.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I love your cats name! That is just awesome. Congrats to you on being prepared with her carrier and a bug out bag for yourself. That is awesome, and you are a step ahead of most people.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I am allergic to most cats, oddly enough. I clean after mine constantly to prevent my allergies from acting up. Thank goodness for wood floors and a great vacuum.

    1. In terms of an emergency, that’d be a nightmare to handle, but if I had the space, energy and money, I’d love to have12 pets! They’d be Dobermans (I do have two), standard and miniature poodles, black cats, canaries, fish, and possibly a snake that stays small. Rabbits, too.

  11. I have never heard of a “bug out bag”, but funny enough, we technically have one at home AND at work. We have a bag of supplies by the door should we ever need to rush out, but I think we need to include more things in there for our cat.

  12. I used to love cats when I was young.I still find them so cute & intelligent.Your post shows you are a very caring person.Wish all pet owners equally give thoughts to the minutest details.

  13. You’ve really put a lot of thought into packing for your pet. While I hope you never have an emergency that requires you to use your bug out bag, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

  14. This is a great article because so many people forget to think about their pets with regards to preparedness. If you have an anxious cat, it also might be a good idea to talk to your vet about possible medications to help ease your cat’s anxiety. There are a couple options that are inexpensive, safe and effective at helping to relax cats during stressful situations.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      What a great idea, Lauren! Mine isn’t usually anxious. He hates the car and cries, but that is about it. So I hadn’t really thought about that. I do know a couple of people that would absolutely benefit from that though because their cats are super anxious in general.

    2. This article made me think. Although I don’t have a pet…I have a daughter and I’m not really prepared. When I was 5, me and my dad were in a bad fire and didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. I definitely have to revamp and get prepared for emergencies!

      1. The Prepping Wife

        I would definitely recommend a bug out bag that you keep near the front door, so if you have to run out in the event of a fire, you have the things needed. I had wildfires a mere 15 miles away back in September, and it was a great reminder just how important a bug out bag for the entire family is!

  15. Well done! I remember preparing for Y2K . Nearly 20 years ago now! :O I’ve thought about our pets and we went so far as to put window decals on our children’s bedrooms and special pet ones on our doors so firemen would know how many pets were in the house if a fire happened. But I’ve never really thought about needing a Bug Out Bag. Very informative and well thought out. I can use this as a step-by-step for preparing one for myself. Thank you for putting this together and sharing it.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I don’t even want to tell you how old I was when Y2K happened. Lol. But suffice it to say, my parent(s) thought preparing for it was absolutely ridiculous. So nothing was done. Me now, I’d be ready. Such a different response. The stickers are such a great idea. I have one, but hadn’t put it. I really need to. Thanks for reminding me that is so important, Melody!

    2. I remember Y2K too! I bought lots of water and canned dog food for my three Dobermans. I also made sure I had plenty of kibble too. I wasn’t worried about me and my sister as we had at least a three month food supply.
      But all of the wildfires in California has made me more twitchy than normal. Last year my sister and I were asked to stay with our parents during the worst of the pandemic, and in San Jose California, there were times it seemed very close. They have a home in the hills that that they’ve owned since 1974, and when its dry is when we worry the most. That year my parents kept everything they packed (including those dried food that lasts for decades) inside their vehicle. Documents, clothing, dog food, water, etc. In fact, I think most everything is still packed, just near the door.
      But sis and I have almost everything packed, too. Leashes, more collars, vaccination and medical records for our Dobermans included. Medicine is already stored in available boxes, just in case.

  16. It’s incredible to me that people aren’t prepared to take their pets with them in an emergency! Natural disasters happen we we have to be prepared to take the whole family to safety!

  17. Great info…putting together a cat bug out x4 and a dog bug out.
    One item forgotten….for your cat is a litter box, scooper.
    Thx

    1. The Prepping Wife

      Great question! I had to go hunting one of these before I could respond, because it was clearly the one thing missing from my post and even on my list. Thank you so much! I found this portable litter box on Amazon. Note, this is an affiliate link through Amazon. I’ve ordered it myself as well to add to Tigger’s bug out bag. My big recommendation would be to look for either a small bag of litter, or a lightweight alternative to traditional litter, simply because litter gets heavy very quickly. I normally buy 42 pound bags, but found some 10 pound bags of the same brand that we keep just for bugging out if needed.

  18. This is such an important post! I think a lot of people go to the extent of setting up their own bug out bag but they forget some of the smaller details that are necessary for their pets. Items as simple as a dish for food and water or a toy to play with to help keep them comfortable in the process are super important. We keep everything we would need in a bag next to the carriers so that we would be ready just in case. You just never know what could happen.

  19. Your cat looks so sweet in his carrier. I really like these tips, especially the one about bringing something comforting for kids and pets. Even as an adult, I would probably want to do that, as well.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I think comfort items are one of the biggest things people forget to prep for. They can go a very long way when things seem the worst, and make it a little more tolerable. Nobody wants to deal with cranky family, kids, or pets, when things are stressful. Small comfort items at least help with the cranky aspect.

    1. Lyosha, I would add water for a minimum of three days and food. I think a lot of places you would be evacuated to wouldn’t have pet food, and if the water was in small supply, people would probably give you an extremely difficult time when it came to “asking” them to share with what could be considered a limited supply. Think of the toilet paper situation last year!
      Would you please give your dogs some love and attention for me? My Dobermans Lana and Charlie say hi and send kisses and cuddles and lots of tail wagging!

  20. One thing I didn’t see mentioned that i found handy is a portable litter box, you can buy disposable plastic ones with litter already in them or reusable canvas ones like this one on Amazon and fill it with litter. there is nothing worse than being on the road and realizing your cat needs to go to the bathroom to late.

  21. If my Dad was still a practicing veterinarian, I’d post this! Let alone have a copy ready to hand out!
    If push comes to shove, you can always use a pillow case to put your cat in. I’ve found they enjoy being able to be on their human’s lap, feel them.

    1. I hadn’t thought of a pillow case before, Dawn! Great idea! I know people use towels when there isn’t another option, which certainly works. I would say a pillow case would be very similar.

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