Food Storage - Include Your Four-Legged Friends!
by W. Jacque MBA
(Western Washington State)
So, you've got your food storage calculated to the last bean. You have space set aside for your pantry, and you are building up the basics. Great! But, did you include EVERYONE in your household? How about the gentleman who is rubbing his muzzle on your leg? Or the lady who is purring at your ankle? You did remember them, didn't you?
I thought I had everything planned, that is, until I read William Forstchen's nightmare novel of an EMP attack on the U.S. In his novel, the residents dogs starve to death next to their unprepared masters. I THOUGHT I had everything planned - until I realized that my little friends needed a years' supply as well.
Just as you buy for your family, you should buy for your pets. In other words, buy food that they normally eat. If your dogs eat canned food, don't expect them to suddenly switch to dry. Calculate how much they eat during a normal week, and multiply by 52 weeks. For example, I have two small(ish) dogs. They each get 1/4 a 22-ounce can per day (or half a can per day), 3.5 cans per week (I round up to four). For the year, my dogs will eat about 208 cans - that's what I need for a year's supply. Easy. The local grocery store makes it even easier. At $1.25 per can for their favorite brand, I can rotate my dogs' supply once a week.
My cats, on the other hand. It's that their not finicky, it's just they require MORE. And, observation. Okay, my cats can go through five large buckets of litter in a little over a year. They can also chomp their way through a large sack of dry food every five months. As a weekend treat, they also get, each, 1/2 can of food per day. So, for my two cats I need the following: five buckets of litter, three large sacks of dry food, 52 cans of cat food.
Where to store? Store canned pet food in your pantry, but keep it in an area where it can't be mixed up with cans for human consumption. For dry food, I keep WHOLE, UNOPENED sacks in one of those huge plastic footlockers sold at the big-box stores. Cat litter can stay in the garage until needed. (Please note: if you wash out a cat litter bucket with bleach, you can store those little cans in there once the bucket is dried out. You can also store a small sack of dried food in one as well. The bucket serves a two-fold purpose: to keep food in a handy place, and in case you have to "grab and go.")
If your pet takes some sort of medication, keep it where you normally do. Like medication for your family, buy more of it. Hint for dog owners: when my dogs first had diarrhea and/or vomiting, my vet told me to feed them a mixture of white rice and scrambled egg. So, I keep a #10 can of rice and one of powdered egg for their use. If you want, you can mark it for their use only.
Now, should a natural, man-made, or economic disaster occur, at least your little friends can also survive.