How to Survive the End of the World

The end of the world might be right around the corner.

I figure with everybody in a hysterical frenzy these days about the end of the world, dudes eating other dudes’ faces in Florida, governments spending money like it was monopoly money, and my two-year obsession with becoming a real life Jason Bourne (seriously), I figured this would be a good time to share everything I’ve stumbled across to prep for a disaster/emergency of epic proportions.

Does this make me a weirdo?  Hell yeah!  But when the zombie apocalypse happens, who’s got two thumbs and will be totally prepared?

This guy.  

Here’s how you can survive the end of the world too! 

End of the world?

aliens globe

When I say “the end of the world,” it doesn’t need to be something like a scene out of I Am Legend.

As we’ve recently seen from natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy, Mother Nature can be a real jerk, destroying the infrastructure and endangering lives across massive sections of the country. On top of that, we’ve seen these disasters create real shortages and scares, affecting everything from gas to groceries.

Of course, there could actually be an end of the world scenario in which we’re overrun by zombies, super-intelligent monkeys, or Twilight Fans.  You never know.

Mayan Apocalypse or real life storm, these are the situations where you can’t be caught saying, “Oh shoot, I probably should have prepared for that huh? Haha oh well YOLO!”

To best prepare for these extraordinary events, it’s best to start preparing today!

Survival of the Fittest

lego man hammer

First and foremost, get healthy.

Yeah, this is absolutely the most important way to prepare for the end of the world.

When the **** hits the fan, your car breaks down or you run out of gas, you might be relying on your own two feet or a bike to get out of dodge.  If there’s an earthquake or fire, you might need to sprint to safety, move debris, swim through a flood, and more. Depending on the length of the disaster, you might be without access to reliable health care for a considerable amount of time, and your skills and physical abilities might be the only tools you have to barter for precious supplies with other survivors!

Essentially, if technology goes kaput, we’ll be reverting back to survival of the fittest. 

Start building your apocalypse body NOW.

Stop eating junk food.  Start exercising regularly.  If you’re holding off on getting elective surgery for something, get it done now.  Add a pull up bar to your house and build a regiment completing the Konami workout, hotel room workout, or beginner body weight routine.  The stronger you are and the faster you are, the better chance you’ll have at surviving whatever end-of-days scenario gets thrown at you.  Here’s a great article on the skills that every person should have to save their own life.

Take care of yourself, because the world needs you.  

My hope is that when the zombies do come (or the regular boring apocalypse finally happens), Nerd Fitness has built a sizeable army of incredibly smart, freakishly strong, incredibly good looking rebels ready to fight them off.  We’re nearly 40,000 strong and growing rapidly.

Have a Bug Out Bag prepared

lego backpack

Disasters attack without warning, prejudice, or mercy.

Whether it’s an earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, or Bowser, things can get ugly VERY quickly.

In these instances, every second counts, and you getting the hell out of harm’s way as quickly as possible should be your primary goal. It’s in these instances that you only have a matter of minutes to get to safety, and every second counts.

This is why it is recommend you build yourself a Bug Out Bag: A 72-hour “ready for anything” bag that you can grab at a moment’s notice that will have everything you need to survive a last minute evacuation from your home.  First and foremost, when putting your bag together, you need to remember the Rule of Threes:

  • You can survive for three hours in bad weather without shelter.
  • You can survive for three days without water.
  • You can survive for three weeks without food.

Your bug out bag should make sure these three issues are addressed.  You have a few options when it comes to getting started:

1) Buy a pre-made Bug Out Bag – This is a big no-no according to all of the true survivalists, but if you’re convinced the world will end this Friday, check out something like this Guardian Bag and have it delivered in the next two days (thank you Amazon Prime!).

2) Construct your own - Now, if you’re more of an optimists and think the world won’t end for a few months (that was a joke, ha ha, get it?), you can take a more hands-on approach to building your own But Out Bag.  I won’t claim to be an expert on this stuff, so I’ll instead whet your appetite and share some tips I learned from, “Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag,” and “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.” I love my kindle, but I figured these would be good resources to have if technology isn’t an option; I purchased the actual dead-tree versions.  If you’re going to build a bag, “Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag” is a must-have resource.

Your pack should contain twelve types of supplies: water and hydration, food and food preparation, clothing, shelter and bedding, fire, first aid, hygiene, tools, lighting, communications, and protection and self-defense.  You can find more specific and detailed information at these resources:

If you think you might end up in a situation where your ONLY option is to stay IN your current apartment should a catastrophe arise, then you can afford to stockpile more supplies ahead of time: gallons of water, weeks/months supplies of calorie dense foods, proper sleeping arrangements should the power go out, lighting, and so on.  Just be careful, you’re about to become the most popular kid on the block because you’re the only one prepared.

Have a path to safety

lego map

Now, once the **** hits the fan, you need to make sure you can quickly grab your Bug Out Bag and get to safely as quickly as possible.  Where that is will depend largely on your current living situation:

  • Live in a city?  Identify a safe location to which you can drive or hike – maybe it’s a camp ground or your grandparent’s farm house.  Also identify multiple routes to that path, should traffic block your primary exits.  If you live in a high rise building, make sure you know where the stairs and exits are. Here’s an article dedicated to Urban Survival.
  • Live in the burbs? You’ll have to ascertain the type of threat and decide if you’re better off staying put in your home, or if you need to vacate quickly and move onto another location.
  • Live in the country?  Barring a geographical specific disaster, your best bet would probably be to stay at home, batten down the hatches, and hole up if you’re adequately prepared.  Check out this book for the optimal way to barricade yourself into your dwelling.

This will also be a matter of preference.  You’d be wise to start exploring your surroundings, points of escape from your town, where the bottlenecks are likely to cause problems, and what your absolute best chance of survival will be: staying at home vs. getting away.  It’ll depend on the severity of the catastrophe and your own particular situation.

Necessary Skills

Lego Explorer

In my research and training to become Jason Bourne, I’ve stumbled across a number of skills that would also prove incredibly important should we reach the end of the world.

These are those skills:

Self Defense - I’d like to think that we’d all act like civilized human beings should there be a major catastrophe. However, considering how we Americans act during a black Friday sale, I don’t have too much faith in society when we’re scrambling for food, water, or supplies.   If you are already well-prepared and stocked with supplies, then you’re a prime target.  For this reason, I would recommend you look into taking self-defense classes in your town.

Consider taking Krav Maga (Israeli special forces martial arts) or Systema (Russian martial art).  How “prepared” you want to be is up to you.

First-Aid/CPR/EMT - If you manage to survive the initial catastrophe or apocalypse, you might be one of the few people available, ready, and willing to take care of others.  One of the Rules of the Rebellion is to “never leave your wingman,” which still applies after the world ends.  So get prepared:

  • CPR, First Aid, and AED.  CPR saves lives…and even if you don’t think the world is ending, this is an incredibly valuable skill to have!  You can find out more information about First Aid, CPR, and AED classes through the Red Cross.  Do it.
  • Volunteer EMT, Community Emergency Response Team, etc. - Consider volunteering for your town’s Community Emergency Response Team.  A simple google search with “CERT + [your city/town name]” or a search here should provide you with more information.  Getting certified could not only help save lives, but also provide you with special permissions or access to certain parts of town during an emergency.

Hunting, farming, fishing, and foraging - Depending on how long your catastrophe lasts, you might be on your own for food once your Bug Out Bag rations run out!  There are thousands of books written on each of these subjects, but to start, I found the “survival” sections of Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Chef to be incredibly well done and a great primer to get me interested in survivalist ‘food.’ This includes topics on forging for plants, how to catch and cook a squirrel, deer, pigeons, fish, and more.

If you will be taking shelter on a farm for a long time, actually planting your own crops and raising your own livestock could be the best path to sustainable survival. Even if you don’t live on a massive farm, the ability to grow your own food source is incredibly advantageous.

Bartering - Once the end of the world happens, the money in your bank account could become as worthless as the paper it’s printed on.  Instead, you might be stuck bartering for goods and services like the good ole days.  Simply developing the skill of negotiation can be a lifesaver in the end of days – you can get rid of any excess supplies in exchange for supplies of which you’re in desperate need.  This is also a prime opportunity for you to showcase any other skills or talents you might have – an expert hunter, a forager who knows the woods, a woodworker, or a doctor/nurse will be VERY valuable when catastrophe strikes.

Lock-picking - If you’re trying to prepare for a zombie apocalypse (or have become paranoid watching The Walking Dead), then being able to get into abandoned houses, offices, cars, or buildings could be the difference between life and death.  Believe it or not, you can actually take lock-picking classes.   Do a google search for your town and “lock-smith class” and see if anything pops up.  If not, you might be stuck scouring lock-picking message boards to see if there’s any club or person in your area that you can learn from.  If you’re trying to become an international man of mystery, then this skill is essential.

If you can think of other important skills, make sure you share them in the comments with your fellow rebels!

More information and resources

lego book

These are some of my favorite sites, books, and resources that I’ve discovered for getting started down on the journey towards apocalypse survivalism.  Even if there is never a catastrophe, think of all of this information, training, and a cool (albeit strange) hobby that might also help you save somebody’s life someday.


Emergency, by Neil Strauss – the book that started it all for me.  Written as a more comical take on the subject of survivalism, (compared to the other dry, fact-based sites and books below), Emergency covers a LOT of ground relating to survivalism and international diversification.

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, by James Wesley, Rawles -  definitely the comprehensive resource in this article relating to survivalism.  Wesley paints a really grim future, but provides you with very specific information needed to adequately prepare for practically any catastrophe. I recommend getting the real book (not the digital version), in case you DO lose power/technology and this becomes your new bible.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, by Creek Stewart and Jacqueline Musser – this is an entire book dedicated to building your own bug out bag.  If you don’t plan on buying a pre-made one, then this resource is well worth the money.


Sovereign Man – This website, run by a gentleman who uses the alias “Simon Black,” is less of a survival blog and more of an international diversification site.  If you’re concerned about your country’s monetary policies or the direction it’s headed, this site explains how to plant diversified “flags” all over the world. Second passports? International bank accounts?  Gold storage?  It’s all here. – Run by James Wesley, author of the book mentioned above.  Wesley is a man who is fully convinced there is a massive shift coming and has taken every precaution to protect himself and his family.  If the world ends, he’s the guy I’d want on my team. However, the site is pretty low-tech, and not easy to navigate, which is why I also recommend…

SurvivalCache - I just recently found this site, thanks to my research for this article.  I find the site to be full of quality knowledge, presented in a solid fashion, and even bares some resemblance to how I approach my articles.  I mean, the author draws inspiration from movies at times. Sound familiar? :)

Get started

lego hazmat

It’s never too soon to start getting prepared.

You never know when the next earthquake, flood, or hurricane might hit. You don’t want to be scrambling at the eleventh hour to protect yourself, your friends, and family!  Even if you’d rather just stick your head in the sand and assume that ALL IS WELL! - a little bit of preparation can go a long way.  Remember, it’s okay to be weird - you’re going to be the weird guy/gal right up until the moment your survival skills and supplies are needed, and then you’re the hero.

 I can understand that the end of the world may overwhelm you (it is…the end of the world, after all), so break things down into bite sized pieces and take it one piece of prep at a time!

  1. Stock up on food and water for your apartment.
  2. Plan out a route to safety should an emergency hit your city or town should a disaster strike.
  3. Start to build your own bug out bag, one item at a time.
  4. Pick one of the skills above and take a class in it.
  5. Pick another skill, and repeat.
  6. Set up lawn chair, grab popcorn, wait for end of world.
  7. Totally kidding about #6.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on my tinfoil hat and prepare for the end.  Just kidding, I’m going to check out Nashville’s volunteer CERT program!

And if the world does in fact end on Friday…we had a good run, right?

See you at the end,



photo sources: lego mountain man, aliens globe, lego hammer, lego backpack, lego map, lego book, lego explorer, lego hazmat

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  • Jonesy

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been slowly collecting items for my dog and I for the upcoming winter. I live in a place that falls apart when it snows so it’s nice to be prepared when we lose power for a week. 

  • Jason White

    I hate to call myself a prepper, but somehow it seemed as the next step after adopting a more paleo lifestyle. Not to mention all the added skills learned just like in a game. Great article. 

  • CC young

    haha this was funny i always wanted to be great at survival techniques, right now i am overwhelmed with stuff to read but i will try to get the book Emergency it sounds interesting.

  • Ben F.

    I took the OnPoint Tactical class that Neil featured in his book Emergency. You learn how to pick locks, handcuffs, disguise yourself, etc. Definitely a fun class!

  • James Parker

    “And if the world does in fact end on Friday…we had a good run, right?
    See you at the end,


    that is an incredibly ominous signoff…..

  • darkwingdave

    Two other excellent resources are the Survival Podcast and SurvivalPunk

  • Bri Hansen

    SHARES WITH ALL THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • stardust462

    My new favorite show is Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic, so this article was fun to read. Even though my fiance and I roll our eyes a bit at the extremes some people take, after starting to watch the show we realized that we don’t have any sort of plan in place in case a disaster strikes. Everyone should have something in place so they can make it at least a few days without water or electricity.

  • Oogie M

    For the long term survival be sure you can make clothing. FWIW I can spin and weave ;-)

  • Minerva

    Don’t forget a compass. In case you have to travel somewhere off paved roads!

  • Emlily91

    I like being able to say I have a plan and supplies for whatever comes my way. My boyfriend and I understand that anything could happen (and not just this Friday). We want to survive whatever is thrown at us and being prepared is how we will do it. 

  • Ushi

    I’m just going to get a Tardis.

  • Jason Fitzgerald

    Steve: I took a wilderness survival course in Virginia that I highly recommend – “Humble Thunder” at Mountain Shepherd. You learn how to build your own shelters, start fire (in pouring rain), trapping, signaling, etc. It’s a great 4 days.

  • Mike

    Here’s a site I found with articles that explain the basics in a few primitive skills that would be helpful when technology as we know it doesn’t work:

  • Zed&theArtofLife

    Preaching to a (sorta) choir here, Steve. I run a Zombie Apocalypse/Minimalism blog–sorry for the shameless plug, but That said, can I cite some of this post for some of my own future stuff?

  • Aaron Mitchell

    Maybe it’s because I’m not American, as the whole survivalist thing seems to be a very big part of the american psyche, possibly due to your constant barage of ‘we are all doomed’ news feeds, but if you actually have a Bug Out Bag under your bed or in your wardrobe and you’re not an actual spy, mafia informant in hiding or ponzi scheme running wall street banker, then I can’t help but view you as a crazy person.

    Every generation of humanity since the first recorded civilisations have believed the world would end in their life times. It’s just another manifestation of our deep psychological need to feel special or unique. Some people get their noses pierced, some people hoard canned food and learn how to make rope from dried dear intestines (soak them in alcohol first).

  • Amelia Carranza

    I was hoping Shane would save me from the zombies but he’s dead so now  I would have to save myself. I don’t have any plans of what I would do if a disaster occurred. That’s scary. The Walking Dead really got me thinking about what would happen if my family and I were faced with some disaster (be it zombie apocalypse or something else). I have no survival skills. I realized that if I were in the show I would only exist in the flashback scenes. *-*

  • nebtlly

    Systema ftw! I’d recommend that over other martial arts because of the intense emphasis on staying calm and in full possession of your wits in stressful situations – with a bunch of people (three, in this case) lying on top of you as dead weight, for example, which we were just working on yesterday. Training your body not to panic when you’re restricted in movement and can’t breathe normally is tough as hell, but even in the two months that I’ve been doing this stuff I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the way i react to other stressful situations, like people cutting me off in traffic. Utterly invaluable. Everyone should try it.

  • nebtlly

    Shane. Mmmm, Shane. And Daryl. Nom-worthy menfolk seems to be one of the definite upsides to the end of the world as we know it.

  • Amelia Carranza

    And Glen’s secret six pack…and when Rick shoots a gun = maximum sexiness!

  • elspeth

    A lot of what you recommend looks remarkably like the kind of stuff I took with me on a bush walk. Water purification tablets, water, concentrated foods, insulation that works when wet, first aid, emergency radio beacon, torch, compass, whistle, etc. That’s because the Australian bush is a wild place, and has an annoying tendency to kill people. You are completely cut off from civilisation (yep, no mobile phone signal) and things like snakes, spiders, and broken bones happen. And getting lost. And then – well, people tend to die if they aren’t prepared.

    One thing you didn’t mention (although perhaps it’s mentioned in your resources) is training yourself to carry this stuff. Walking with a load is very different from unloaded walking or weightlifting – muscle and endurance development help, this is true, but there’s quite a difference between doing 20 reps and a 6 hour hike. So, practice.

    Another important skill is preserving food. Again, this might be mentioned in the survival guides, but learning how to make meat keep at room temperature for months or weeks is a really useful skill when you don’t have electricity on tap.

    Of course, should The World End, I’m fucked, because there’s no way I can get supplies of the medication I need. Or a significant stockpile. Still, stockpiling medications is probably not a bad idea – just make sure it’s all in date. Also throw in a bottle or two of multivitamins – because you just don’t know if you’ll have a balanced diet available to you. Topical anesthetic is probably another great idea.

    Last but not least – clothing. You aren’t going to have purified water to do laundry in (and if you do, you should probably be conserving it for drinking). You aren’t going to be able to buy a new pair of socks or jocks. So a collapsible pail is a great idea, as is biodegradable nappy sanitiser. Learn how to mend rips and holes. Learn how to sew by hand, at least a little bit, and include a sewing kit in your survival bag (also comes in handy for stitching wounds). And keep your sturdy shoes by the door.

  • Awesome

    Not an American either, but I can totally see the point in Bug Out Bags. Okay, the world probably isn’t going to end any time soon. But if you live in an earthquake, tornado or forest fire zone, you’d not want to have to waste time packing if an emergency occurred.

  • nebtlly


  • Anthony Aadam


  • Erick

    I live in a tornado-prone area.  Last year I spent time cutting down trees that had fallen on houses after a storm.  When these people had to leave in a hurry, with no guarantees as to when they would be able to return, I hope that they had a Bug Out Bag under their beds.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a native Californian.   In my 49 years I’ve lived through several earthquakes, several very dangerous wildfires, couple of race riots.  I KNOW what infrastructure disruption looks like.   Highways really do collapse, mobs really do loot stores, attack random people, and choke off commerce.  And yes, the cops turn and run when the riot gets bad enough.  And with a 70 mph wind plus a dropped cigarette, can force everyone to flee the ensuing fires, whether they are “prepared” to flee or not. 

    It’s not just California. One of the great untold stories of the Hurricane Katrina situation in Louisiana, is that quite a number of survivalists (or “preppers” if you prefer), weathered the disaster just fine.  Rescue crews were astounded when they showed up at these people’s houses, and were told, “Oh, no, we’re just fine, thanks anyway!”  
    So…. Have a supply of water, food – and weapons if circumstances dictate.  Maintain your health.  And most of all, have a well thought out PLAN.  Not to do so, is just plain foolish.  Especially if you have small children to provide for, and not just yourself.   (We once had to “bug out” ahead of advancing brush fire, with a 4 day old baby, and my wife still recovering from delivery…. Fortunately our neighborhood didn’t burn but it was too smoky to inhabit for about a week.)
    Maybe you think you live in a safe country.  I hope you do.  But even the safest countries, like Switzerland, have national contingency plans just in case something goes really wrong.  I suggest you head the words of survival instructor, Larry Dean Olsen:

    “History is full of war-ruined civilizations that have fallen from indoor luxury to outdoor desperation in only a few hours.”
    Has your country ever had a war? 

  • Anonymous

    sorry a couple of paragraph breaks didn’t appear in my last post… not sure why.  i  didn’t mean for it to be so run-together.

  • Aadam065

    Lolx. well i don’t know about survival of world, but the pictorial description is really awesome, I am loving this content. 

  • Survivor Mike

    Remember folks – there are no more Mayans – how good are they at predicting.  That said, we still need to prepare for other disasters (economic, natural, etc).  Love speculating on what we can expect though.

  • guest

    loved this!

  • PaulES

    Lol, love the post! It made me laugh, cry, and everything else in between!

    Especially the legos, those were creeping me up. Checked out other parts of your blog and loved them too. I have a blog about survival too, but I just have infographics about them here I like how you take time and really get the reader’s attention and humor them (litterally).

    Although I really don’t think the Mayans predicted the end of the world, it’s always good to be prepared. So many people aren’t when disasters strike.


  • Shyanneknight


  • muhamad fawad

    Nice article.I enjoyed it a lot.Thank you.    
    Education Information

  • Matthew G. Bailey

    It was quite funny to see some people actually believe the world is gonna end. It was funnier that people somehow thought the Mayans said this via their calendar. In fact, the Mayans actually were giving a time when the constellations would change. And they are right. This is the first year a new constellation will be visible. That’s actually what they “said” so I’m not sure who made up the lie about the world ending. But people will believe anything with enough hype haha.

  • Phyllis Edson

    My kids and I have discussions on how to survive the end of the world all the time.  (I don’t know why.)  My argument is always the same.  If the world ends, why would I want to survive it?  Great website!  

  • Allan Milne Lees

    I enjoyed this site – just the right amount of self-deprecation but lots of pertinent info. Given how totally clueless most people seem to be (every time there’s a natural major event like an earthquake, fire, or storm, most people are helpless within minutes) I think Nerd Preparedness is a very good thing indeed. I live in peaceful NorCal but there are fire and earthquake risks so my family all has bug-out bags, a huge sturdy 4×4, a month’s supply of essentials and, most importantly, we’re out hiking most weekends with full packs, we enjoy krav maga, and we’ve all put in barrel time on moving targets. Hopefully we’ll never be in a situation where these things make a real difference but it’s been fun (and a good family bonding experience) acquiring the various skills.

  • Emily Suzanne

    If the world really ended and you survived, would you really want to see what’s left? Having to fend for yourself all alone? I think I would rather die with everyone else..

  • daniel

    but why the world didin’t end pls reply

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  • NewSurvivor9135

    I have some tips for the Zombie Outbreak
    1.Hide in your own home,You already know that there are no zombies there.
    2.try to get 1 of everything in the store in your bag.

  • Jay Jay

    I totally agree with this, and i also have alot of gear setup my hole house has steel re-in forced walls its own air system back up power and about 3 years worth of food, actually can’t wait to say i told you so.

  • DawnAlison

    You know what would be the best place if you were even in a apocalyse, THE STORE. I mean, think about it, you can grab backpacks, weapons, amunition, you would be able to block the doors, making sure nobody was a zombie or something- you’d be pretty safe, and if there were any zombies in the building, you could just blow off their heads.

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  • Marcus

    The end of the world will most likely involve martial law of some kind as we become herded like cattle, after all it is probably the rich elite that will plan the end.
    Weapons will be essential, here in the UK bows and crossbows require no license and have the power to penetrate as much as some bullets. A bow is quicker to re load than a crossbow and has a longer range, it does require more skill to use.
    Armour may be handy such as helmets and body armour to protect vital organs, level IV grade jackets with 6mm AR500 steel inserts can absorb 7.62mm rounds although the kinetic energy will take you off your feet. A level III helmet will protect against most pistol rounds and may stop a glancing shot from an assault rifle.
    Good choice of vehicle would be ex security ideally with bulletproof glass, run flat wheel inserts and 6mm AR500 steel inner skin. Keep a spare battery, generator, tools, tinned food, first aid kit and whatever else you can think of on board. Don’t forget gas masks!

    A motorcycle might be handy for short runs from your base camp for scout runs where you might need a quick getaway. Keep that in the van with your gear and a few spares as well as a camp bed and clothes. I’d recommend a Honda, preferably with a carb as they tend to run better than injected if air or fuel quality gets a bit iffy. XR650 is excellent off road type, CBR600 F2 or F3 is well proven for something fast, you will most likely die before the bike even with no servicing.

    Ultimately to really survive you will have to be either incredibly liked and useful with a good crew or ruthless, anything less and you might as well hand yourself in as soon as anyone tries to round you up. Trying to escape any regime or surviving when you weren’t supposed to will not go unpunished. Nothing just happens….

  • darkwingdave

    You’re quite ahead of the curve with your planning. There are a lot of people that not only are going to be struggling with taking care of themselves, without the prep you’ve obviously worked on, will have to consider the options of either putting Fluffy down humanely to spare him or contemplating if Mittens tastes good with siracha. If a pet is an important part of your life, especially if it serves a service or guard duty, you have to plan for their needs as well.