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Cats in Emergency Situations

by Jill McQuown, Cordova, Tennessee, USA


I've often wondered what Persia would do in an emergency situation. I live in the mid-South in the United States. Tornados are common. It was not tornado season. Lets see, I got Persia in 2001. I woke up to a howling storm about 3:40 a.m. in November of that year.

Persia hides under the king-sized bed any time there is thunder. And on this night the thunder was booming, big time. The wind was howling and the rain was lashing against the doors. And she was already hiding.

But then the rain stopped, and even though I could hear the wind howling I noticed the wind-chimes right next to the house weren't making any noise. That isn't a good sign.

They had recently installed new warning sirens on my block. I got up and as I was walking towards the bedroom door I heard this booming voice say: "ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Shelby County is under a TORNADO warning! Take cover immediately! Take cover immediately!" For a brief moment I wondered what I was hearing. Then I remembered they'd installed new emergency sirens, but I didn't know they talked! That startled me!

I went and turned on the television to check the news. Just as they were announcing a funnel cloud spotted about 2 miles from my home, the power went out. Oh great.

I did what I was supposed to do. I grabbed a flashlight and a pillow and a blanket. I huddled down in the bathtub which is in the center of the house. A room in the center of a house, particularly one with pipes running through it, has walls which offers some protection in a part of the country where basements and storm cellars are unheard of.

And I remember thinking, oh crap, how am I going to get Persia out from under the bed? I didn't have to worry. The smart little critter ran out from under the bed into the bathroom with me. I got up out of the tub and shut the bathroom door. She hunkered down between the tub and the toilet, meowing at me. I said okay, Persia, okay. Good girl! I reached over and patted her. She never did jump into the bathtub with me; I sort of hoped she would. I was as scared as she was. I listened to the wind howl outside. But I noticed I never heard my wind chimes. I still think that is odd.

I kept waiting for the roof to be blown off. Thankfully, it didn't happen. Persia stayed crouched where she was, uttering the occasional meow and me saying "okay, okay" as much to soothe her as to soothe myself.

The wee hours of that morning, all around Tennessee in surrounding towns and states people were killed by tornadoes and homes were destroyed.

After about an hour an all clear sounded. I got up, opened the bathroom door, looked out. The power was still off. I muttered to myself, "Well they could at least turn the power back on." A minute later it blinked back on.

The power crews had shut down the electricity and gas lines to prevent fires in the event of a catastrophe. Good thinking!

I called, "It's okay, come out, Persia!" and she came out of the bathroom to join me.

I was exhausted and we were in one piece. Persia joined me on the bed and we fell sleep together.


Editor's note:

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