Don't Forget Emergency 
Food For Your Pets

Hi! My name is Gracie.

I live in a really cool house with a yard full of trees and bushes and mice and birds. I have my own entrance/exit so I can go out any time I want. I love to go outside in summer and just lay around in the shade in the rose garden.

From there, I can watch the yummy birds fighting over the seeds at their feeder. I rarely catch one of those flitting things, but I give it a try pretty often.

I own two nice people who cater to my every whim.

There is always available food and water and I know they try to choose the best food for me. (I'm a picky eater but they don't seem to mind.)

But sometimes I worry (yes, cats worry too). I see all the cans and bottles of food in the basement and other foods that my owners bring into the house. (They have a LOT of food.)

But I don't see very much food for me. Oh sure, there are a few cans of my favorite meats in the pantry — and they feed me regularly. And there are a couple of small bags of dry cat food in the basement. But I can eat through that in no time.

So I worry. What about next year? Or in 10 years? Will there be food for me then? (I hope I don't have to eat my owners' food — I really don't like human food. I'm NOT a dog!)

Then one day, my owners came home with a lot of cans with a picture of a cat and dog on the outside. I know that food is for me because all my food has pictures of . . . well, cats, usually. These cans also had the words "freeze-dried" on the outside (of course cats can read!). Those are the same words that are on the human food in the basement. So (just thinking here . . . . I'm a very cerebral cat, you know), if my owners' cans of food in the basement is for them to eat years from now, then that means that my NEW food is for me to eat years from now! (See how smart I am?)

Well, now I know how much they LOVE me! They are storing all this food for them and lots for me too.

I am a very lucky cat!

So if you are preparing for any crisis, you know that food is a critical item to store for your family. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices for types of food, as well as all the other aspects of survival.

It’s a tough job to stay organized. In the midst of all this planning, choosing, acquiring, sometimes humans forget about their pets.

To most people, pets are are members of the family. I know I am! 

Those other pets (you know - DOGS) they will eat anything. They make a lot of noise, and their job is to protect their family. (Although I'm a really good guard-cat. If I run under the bed, that means there is danger! I have trained my owners to know this.) Regardless whether you have pets for protection or just to love and pet, be sure and include emergency food and items for them in your planning. 

My owners used to worry about how to store pet food for long periods of time. (I hear them talking about it! I listen to everything they say — even if I look like I'm sleeping.)

Most store-bought pet foods only have a shelf life of up to one year. You can extend this time somewhat, by storing the food in a cool, dry place. But this is still only a short-term solution. The problem is that most pet foods contain fats and oils which can go rancid over time. You wouldn't want to feed your pets rancid food, would you? It might make them sick!

  • One option people choose is to buy several months of food and rotate it. Canned pet food can last longer than dry food, though it’s a bit pricier. Dry food is more economical and with rotating, it’s easy to keep at least several months on hand. But here's the thing: How long has that food been sitting in the store? Or what conditions has it been stored in before you bought it. Without knowing this information, how many months have already been taken off that storage life? 
  • Another option is make your own pet food. I can't imagine how my owners would make food I like. As I said earlier, dogs will eat anything — cats are picky. (I would consider taking all their canned tuna off their hands though. If offered, I would not turn that down.)

If all you have is a dog, you can give them the scraps of leftovers. They'll like it! (Dogs like everything!) It might not be the most healthy for them, but, hey, it's crisis time and scraps will keep them alive. (DO NOT do this to me or my feline friends! We won't like it!) 

One of the best ways to add your pet food for long term storage is to buy dry food in large containers and package like other bulk foods. Use a 5 gallon bucket with a Mylar liner; fill with the dry food, add oxygen absorbers and seal it. Depending on the fat content of the specific food (less is better), you should be able to store for a good 10-15 years, which may be enough because, as you know, pets don't live as long as humans. (Sad but true.)

You might find places on the web that have food specifically for pets. My favorite preparedness store used to carry it, but they no longer have it.

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