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This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

I live in one of the most seismically active areas of the United States. There’s an active volcano 65 miles from my home. I’ve lived through an epic ice storm that knocked out power to my family homestead for two and a half weeks. My oldest niece and her family lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Thomas, Bella and Siouxsie in their carriers in the back of my car

The gang is used to getting in their carriers and going for long rides in the car after our cross-country move.

With all that, disaster preparedness is common sense for me.

My disaster preparedness plans always include my cats. Here are some of the practically effortless things I do to prepare for our needs in case disaster strikes.

1. I always keep my car’s gas tank at least half full. If disaster strikes, power may go out or there may be panic at the gas pumps, so I want to be sure I have enough gas to get far away from the disaster zone.

2. I keep my cats’ carriers easily accessible and I’ve got my cats trained to let me get them into their carriers quickly and efficiently.

3. My cats are microchipped and have collars with tags that include my mobile phone number.

4. I know about pet-friendly hotels within reasonable driving distance of my home.

Thomas walks through my bags on a hotel room baed

Be prepared — find out about cat-friendly hotels within a reasonable drive of your home. And keep a cat first aid kit handy like I do.

5. I have several days’ supply of non-perishable food for them. If I have warning of a disaster — for example, if I know a hurricane or a blizzard is headed my way — I fill pots, pans and bottles with water in the event that power goes out.

But sometimes there’s no time to prepare. Tornadoes, earthquakes and landslides tend to happen with much less warning. Other emergencies like a fire in your building or your neighborhood might force you to evacuate. And sometimes even the best-prepared of us get separated from our furry family under those circumstances.

Texas SPCA member unloads food from a truckThat’s where animal shelters and rescues come in.

Animal rescue is stressful under the best of circumstances, but when there are hundreds or even thousands of displaced pets to deal with, the burden can be overwhelming.

Beyond wondering how they’re going to find space for all those displaced pets, one big question is, “What are we going to feed them?”

Fortunately, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has stepped up to that challenge by establishing the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network. This is an extension of its Food, Shelter & Love® program, and in its first year of operations the network delivered free pet food to 50 shelters and vet clinics across the U.S. in response to 11 major disasters including one close to home for me — the mudslide in Oso, Washington.

Hills Food, Shelter & Love campaign logo, and Hill's Science Diet Optimal Care Adult Cat FoodHill’s Disaster Relief Network is poised and ready to help shelters and rescuers at a moment’s notice so that they can ensure that all of the animals, though stressed and upset, have proper nutrition to keep them healthy until they can be reunited with their owners.

FEMA National Pet Disaster Preparedness Day is May 9. Do yourself and your cats a favor and get prepared. It’s better to have a plan and not need it than the other way around! Here are some tips from PetMD on how to be pet-prepared for an emergency.

What other advice would you add? Sound off in the comments!