As many of you know we are work and live in San Francisco. As a native your cat faerie has been through countless earthquakes, most minor, but some quite major like the 1989 Loma Prieta quake which happened during a World’s Series game played at SF’s Candlestick Park.
Saturday night at 3:20 am there was a 6.0 (some reports say 6.1 but who’s counting!) earthquake centered in Napa which is one of the vital valleys of our wine country. Some 60 miles or an hour away by car it woke us up and we felt every dramatic wave and shake. Fortunately for us not even one can of cat food toppled over!
Do animals know before that an earthquake is coming?
After the devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan a Japanese university began to study animals and earthquakes. Can they predict them? How far in advance do they feel that something is coming? Your cat faerie was part of that study and answered the many pages long questionnaire.
For us personally before this most recent quake, the cats were fine, no out of the ordinary behavior. But we suspect that cats being cats would only alert us or act strangely if a quake would be serious and affect our home or immediate area – which this one did not. Napa on the other hand got hit very hard.
But our bunnies were a different story. For the 3 days leading up to this earthquake several of them were fighting. Rabbits being animals that burrow underground might be more sensitive to the earth’s movement than cats or dogs.
The Save A Bunny rabbit rescue in Mill Valley (in Marin County and about 20 minutes closer to Napa than we are) reported that night their bunnies were thumping in unison – they knew something was coming and were thumping to alert everyone around them.
We’ve been told that African Gray parrots will hang upside down their cages prior to an earthquake.
Jim Berkland, a now retired geologist, has been predicting earthquakes for years. He uses lunar phases, and tides, and most interesting, he observes animals.
What he has observed is a spike in missing cats and dogs on posters and in newspapers a few weeks before a big quake, for example the horrible Northridge quake of 1994. Cats and dogs will sense something is coming so if they have access to outside, they often run off.
We found a really good story about Jim and his predictions written in January of 2014. It’s a great read, we know you’ll enjoy it. Interestingly Jim still lives in Northern California, in Glen Ellen which is the Sonoma side of the wine country. It looks like he isn’t leaving anytime soon! We aren’t either!
Being safe during an earthquake:
- As soon as you feel an earthquake stand in the frame of the nearest doorway. Door frames are structurally very strong and if something falls it probably won’t hit your head. Don’t stand near a refrigerator or anything else that can topple over.
- As soon as you can turn off your gas! Don’t know how? Learn this week. Also this week, strap your water heater so that it can’t tip over.
- Aftershocks can occur minutes, hours, days, or weeks later. Some aftershocks can be as strong as the actual quake, but usually they are less so.
- It’s not always safe to be outside – chimneys can fall, buildings can collapse, glass windows can pop out of their frames sending dangerous shards flying. If the building you are in seems unstable go outside but stand in the center of the street.
- This week look over your emergency food and water stash. Discard anything with old expiration dates and replenish. Have flash lights and batteries. Maxi pads make great bandages because they are so absorbent, just wrap medical tape around them. Keep a large jar of cayenne pepper – it stops bleeding in seconds when poured on a gash. (really!)
- Keep your emergency items in plastic garbage cans with the lid on securely. If something falls on it, the contents will probably not get broken. They also won’t get damaged by water.
- You can buy emergency kits for your car from The American Red Cross. You never know when you might need it for yourself or your passengers, or another injured person you may encounter.
- Don’t ditch your land line! In the event of an earthquake and so many other disasters where the power can go out that cell phone is not going to work. You want an old school phone that goes into a wall jack. Have a land line for emergencies and you’ll be the first to be able to call out for help, or to let friends and relatives know that you are safe.
Here’s a presentation titled “Earthquake Prediction and Animals” that describes the behavior of all sort of animals and even insects before a major earthquake. It’s really fascinating!
People love to ask us Californians, “What does it feel like?” The first thing is what you hear, which can sound like a loud crack or like a Mack truck hit your house. A split second later it’s like a giant grabbed your house and is shaking it. It might also feel like a long steady roll. You’ll probably hear the rattle of drinking glasses and plates clanging. Pictures on the wall start to sway or even bounce, a chair might dance across the floor. You might hear or see things fall over.
Have any of your cats or other animals warned you of earthquakes or any severe natural disaster, like a life threatening storm? We’d love to know for a follow up to this article.