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    Special Report/Pets & Their People

    What To Do, And Not Do, If Your Cat Is Freaked Out By The Quake

    by C. Miriam Yarden, B.Sc., MS
    Contributing Editor,

    Ms. Yarden is a practicing animal behavior specialist (Aurora Animal Behaviour) with 35 years of experience in the field and is a published author on the subject. Her "Pets & Their People/Perspective" appears exclusively on

    (July 29, 2008) -- Now that I am over my own fright, here are some reassurances regarding our friends of the feline persuasion.

    A few words first. While some dogs are able to communicate that an earthquake is imminent (I had one dog who was able to do this), cats can also sense it but do not communicate it to us. It is almost as if they were saying "OK, people, here it comes but you are on your own, we are going to try and get away from it."

    That is why my two cats ended up, curled around each other on top of the frig, arching their back and shaking. Others are smarter and got under the bed which resembles, for them, a safe haven, away from other animals, people AND earthquakes.

    This is normal for cats (which, by the way, makes it doubly difficult to get them in case of a fire).

    I used to have two others who would jet under the bedspread and lie there like two little frightened lumps (and I was sorely tempted to join them).

    As for the aftermath, of course they are shaken! They will wander around a bit, not quite trusting the ground yet and they have to get over their fright.

    If you try to hug and caress them, love them out of their fear, it will be counterproductive. If they're not very young kittens, they'll take their own time to relax...and they will!

    Keep to their regular routine of feeding, play, talking to them, and just let them do it by themselves. If you have more than one cat, they'll probably take their cues from each other. Barring any aftershocks [and I know there may be some], they will be fine by tomorrow morning.

    BUT - do not feed them where they hide, or they may not be inclined to come out. Let them see with your own calmness, that there is nothing wrong and life went back to normal.

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