Cats Wander Plains After Tornado

Madame Curious, feral of flatland. She’s a gorgeously marbled classic tabby:

Madame Curious has bright inquisitive eyes

Madame Curious has bright, inquisitive eyes

Madame Curious was very observant

Madame Curious was very observant

Madame Curious could do the stink-eye

Madame Curious could do the stink-eye

The tall trees all went down in the tornado, on April 27th, 2011 at 5:13 pm. My late Mom’s cat Tiger was terrified; my husband saw him run out of the smashed back rooms, into the debris mass of branches, trunks, and house bits. Details of the tornado story are here:

In the aftermath we, as well as others, looked for cats living in the hit zone. We safe- trapped shy cats, hoping to catch Tiger, a former feral. We homed kitties who had no people, but we never found Tiger. The streets were full of talkative humans and their loud equipment for a long time; most cats only came out in the evening, or at night. I’d watch them come into view under a street-light, dark cat shapes moving quickly, on cat missions.

We still hope to find Tiger. We took care of and cherished Mom’s other two old cats, Anna and Good Old Boy, after she passed. I’d like to care for Tiger for her, too. Here is an old photo of Tiger in her house:

Tiger in Mom's house

Tiger in Mom’s house

I’m usually the only photographer on this website; but in this post, some of my husband’s pictures will be included.

When the downed trees and wrecked structures were cleared away, we were left with plains. Now when the wind gets up it wuthers – blows hard with a low roar – all around the house; there’s not much left to deflect wind. This isn’t the heath, but it feels lonely and vast, so I’m borrowing ‘wuther’.

Cats appeared in daytime once the noise level went down. The feral I named Madame Curious first appeared in autumn of 2012. She ate the food we put out, but wanted nothing to do with us. She was ear-tipped, so someone in the neighborhood had TNRed her.

She slowly became more accustomed to us. She would follow my husband around as he went about rebuilding, meowing advice to him. She came gradually closer and began to chillax up on the scaffolding. Turns out, she knew all about masonry!

Madame Curious keeps a look-out

Madame Curious keeps a look-out

High on her perch, Madame Curious began to watch him through the window.

We could now watch panoramic sunsets:

November of 2014

Sunset November of 2014

Sunset September 2014

Sunset September 2014

So did Madame the feral cat.

She's a watchful kitty, that Madame Curious

Skywatching Madame Curious

In 2014 another feral appeared, a big floofer we have never been able to trap, who must have had an eye injury in the past. Tanya Mikulas, our friend living in the front part of the house, named the black kitty One-Eyed Jack.

He and Madame Curious appeared to know each other. They walked around together and she always led him to the food. He was much more skittish around us than she was.

Jack and Madame Curious

Jack and Madame Curious

He would amble far away to be a panther in the grasslands once he knew I was watching him.

Jack wants no company

Jack wants no company

We used food to entice Madame into the house.

Madame Curious chows down

Madame Curious chows down

Jack saw Madame Curious climbing the scaffolding, so he climbed it too. They’d camp there together, or Jack would watch his pal while she sat inside. But he wouldn’t go into the house himself. Jack went away in the autumn; we know ferals will always wander off, but we were still sad.

Jack on the heights

Jack on the heights

Jack wonders, is she crazy? She walked right in

Jack wonders, is she crazy? She walked right in there

Meanwhile, another kitty came, a handsome feline adolescent who was friendly to humans. In fact, he was all over us any time we encountered him!

Porch Kitty, speaking out!

Porch Kitty, speaking out!

Porch Cat would sit for portraits

Porch Cat would sit for portraits

Madame did not approve of him; picky picky picky girl! Because of her differing reactions to two tomcats, I thought maybe she and Jack went back a long way, or might have been littermates.

Comfortable Porch Cat

Comfortable Porch Cat

Madame Curious, a tad grumpy

Y’all … really!

When he started taking over her spot on the scaffolding, we had to feed the new guy at the front of the house. Somehow we all took to calling him Porch Cat.

Young lounging Porch Cat

Young, friendly Porch Cat

IMG_4587 Porch Cat had style!


Porch Cat wants to enter the residence

He talked, he lounged about the porch, he came strutting right up to us. He wanted to come inside!

Long-story-short, Tanya worked closely with Madame Curious, and became able to pet her; they bonded strongly and Madame became a contented housecat. She also took in Porch Cat, (who needed no coaxing) and other homeless cats who roamed the wreckage and fields. She and her cats moved away after her graduation.

Jack turns around, rather quickly

Jack turns around, rather quickly

Jack returned late in 2015; he’s again extremely shy, without Madame Curious to mentor him. Here’s a shot of his tail as he turns to walk away from me. Maybe one day he’ll warm up to us; some ferals sweeten; others remain wild, and wander.

I long for the inhabited forest this neighborhood used to be. I hate and fear the slightest whooshing and wuthering of wind. I wish Tiger would come back. It’s the 5th anniversary of the tornado on April 27th. I’m not over it, never will be. Adding to the gloom, April 20th is the 6th anniversary of the Gulf oil deluge.

Bud the Patient Editing Cat

Bud the Patient Editing Cat

Bud the Editing Cat likes the general feline focus, but he’s showing me how this post could be improved by replacing pictures of those other cats with pictures of Bud.

Some excellent photos of the post-tornado zone by our friend Tanya at this link:

2012 Full Moon Emerging Artist Tornado Photo Gallery

About Leah

I'm Leah T. Alford, a writer fascinated by the natural world and animals, especially cats.
This entry was posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats, Feral Cats, Tornadoes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to Cats Wander Plains After Tornado

  1. Pingback: Analysis of Cat, Bird, and Tree Life in a US Neighborhood | Catwoods Porch Party

  2. Claudia says:

    I love the cats and what you do for them. I have a cat that looks like porch cat…sweet sassy thing. I keep my cats in the house…I see enough dead ones on the road. Great blog.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Claudia, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I completely agree with keeping cats inside! Our friend in the house did take Porch Cat and Madame Curious inside, but MC was feral so that was a long slow process. Only Jack remains outside now, and he is so unfriendly, he may be one of those ferals that just needs to be kept fed and left on his home grounds. We’ll see. We do have less traffic now because so many houses destroyed in the tornado were never rebuilt.

  3. betunada says:

    ev’ry-1 else sedditt: gr8 cat pixures, w/accompanying narrative. I occasionally focus on our cats as well. a continual thread (many threads) in our lives !

  4. Travel Nurse April says:

    Great pictures! Beautiful cats. My favorite photo is the first one of Madame Curious.

  5. karenlee says:

    Love your cat photos and the location by the creek. Gonna be poking around a bit more. 🙂

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you, Karenlee, I’m glad you liked the photos! I enjoyed visiting your blog, and will go back to look around more.

  6. joey says:

    Such pretty kitties! ^_^ I love the way animals find us, they’re all great stories.

  7. elmdriveimages says:

    Thanks for the like on my Added Watermark in Picasa.

  8. chattykerry says:

    Madame Curious has the same titian highlights as our beloved Mrs. Stripe. Tiger was such a handsome fellow.

  9. Beautiful post 😀

  10. elizz says:

    i love cats and i have 6 outside cats that i feed and take care of.. they used to hiss at me but now they are all tamed and sweet and know their names when called.. by the way, is madame curious really a female? i noticed the left ear notch.. When i went to the shelter to adopt a male cat, they said i should look for cats with notch on left ear because spayed females have notches on right ear.. My outside neutered cats have tipped ear (little v-shaped cut) for easy identification. tipped ear is more visible than a notched ear at a distance thus avoiding a retraping in case of TNR…. thank you for caring about the sweet kitties in your yard, nice post. 🙂

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for telling me about your cats, and for taking such good care of them. They do hiss at first and then become friendly once they get used to you, and it’s so worth it! That is a left ear tip on Madame. I’d never heard that ferals were tipped differently by gender. I looked it up and according to what I read, some TNR groups and counties do that, but not all. Those that tip without regard to gender tip the left ear. While I don’t know which protocol was used, my opinion that Madame is female is based on general size and head shape. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    • elizz says:

      i’m sorry, i got it all mixed up.. notch is the little v-shaped cut on ear.. while tipped ear is when a very small portion of the top of the ear is removed in a straight line..

  11. charlotteash says:

    OH, I see I used “Cat 4” instead of “EF 4” in describing the tornado. That’s what 38 years worth of hurricane season does to ya, I guess!

  12. charlotteash says:

    What a beautiful post. You are a goddess to care for the cats so tenderly. My hubs and I have many ourselves, having taken in ferals and strays over our 36 years in this house, and fixed many more. It’s been a challenge what with living in the city and sometimes having neighbors be unpleasant to us.
    I understand your feelings post-tornado as we lived through Katrina and my family went through a Cat 4 tornado in MS in 2014. Unless you’ve experienced a disaster like these and lived in the aftermath you can never really understand. It works on your emotional health and it feels like nothing will ever be right again. But life goes on and you learn to adapt.
    Back to cats, when we got home after Katrina we were greeted by four tiny kittens and a mamma cat living in the debris in our backyard. I still have three of those “Katrina Kitties”, as we call them.
    I see you visiting my blog all the time and I thank you. I have you in my feed reader but it seems I miss your posts somehow anyway. I do love reading you, though.

    • Catwoods says:

      Charlotte, thank you so much for your kind words, and for your insights! Everything you said about storm effects on the psyche is so true! I know Katrina must have been so horrible to go through! Its tropical storm level remnants actually passed over us and dropped 500 trees in town, but it was nothing like what the coastal areas went through. And then an F4 too, yikers! It’s wonderful to hear from a person of compassion who takes care of kitties, the ferals, the strays, and the displaced! I always enjoy reading your web site. As for not finding me on the news feed, I don’t post very often. I’m looking back over everything now since I’m about to publish a book of cats and memories, and I’m seeing a heck of a lot of storms and tragedy (Gulf oil torrent) in this region.

  13. Beautiful photos–so sorry for your suffering. I can’t imagine what you all went through. Tiger is handsome. I hope some day he returns. Great turnout with Madame Curious I love all those names. I thought I was following you, but I’m not getting notifications. I’ll re-follow!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and your good wishes about Tiger. I don’t know how to turn on the email notifications for followers, I’ll have to look around more to see if I can find that! I’ve noticed some I follow have notifications, and some don’t.

  14. Can’t imagine a tornado ripping through our neighborhood. Hope Tiger shows up. Peace.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for your hopes for Tiger’s return! Indeed, before this happened, although I live in tornado country, I really couldn’t imagine this actually happening! Peace going out to you also.

  15. I love this post. Splendid cats. Not a word out of place. Really evocative.

  16. I am so sorry about your Mom’s cats and her home. I hope that you all will be spared the new round of tornadoes. With concern, peace and harmony, Barbara

  17. greenpete58 says:

    I love the names. “Madame Curious,” “One-Eyed Jack” etc. Cool story, and hope the felines all have healthy lives!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thanks, greenpete58! I named Madame Curious, and our friend Tanya named One-Eyed Jack. Thanks for your well wishes for the kitties. Everyone is doing well and seems healthy. The kitties we’ve cared for have usually lived long lives, fortunately.

  18. Mollie Hunt says:

    Wonderful story. Such moving pictures (both the photos and the words)

  19. Pingback: Cats Wander Plains After Tornado | Mollie Hunt: Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries and more

  20. Candace says:

    I always worry about some disaster causing me to lose some of my cats. How sad. i hope Tiger returns. Sorry you had to go through such a thing.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for your kind thoughts, and for sending hopes for Tiger to return, Candace! I tend to always keep a glimmer of hope, too.

  21. RMW says:

    The winds whip and howl around our building always scaring me. I lie in bed worrying about the birds nests in the trees! I could not imagine dealing with a tornado… fingers crossed I never have to! Beautiful photos of the felines. And here’s hoping Tiger will come back one day…. or maybe you will discover he found another home where he is well fed and happy!

  22. elmdriveimages says:

    Very good of you…what a shame.

  23. Charles Huss says:

    They are lucky to have you. Porch Cat is very photogenic.

  24. arlingwoman says:

    Tiger is such a handsome cat, I bet he adopted a new family and is happily ensconced. They will do that, cats.

  25. Fascinating story and great pictures…love that handsome Porch Cat!

  26. mike says:

    this looks like the stray I took care of for years until she disappeared one day

  27. samanthamurdochblog says:

    What wonderful work you are doing, and what a lovely, caring post. Pictures were great too, emotional documentation of what must have been a frightening time.

  28. Very interesting story with great fotos.

  29. niasunset says:

    How nice of you, beautiful post and lovely cats, and photographs. What you live all there wasn’t easy, and I am glad you are now together and hope not happen again. Thank you, Love, nia

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Nia, I’m happy you enjoyed the picture and photos, and of course, the cats! It has indeed been a tough road. You are very nice to hope that this doesn’t happen again! So many are hoping along with you! Love to you in return, Leah

  30. cdog5 says:

    Leah, what wonderful photos (a photo story) and words about your cats. It”s obvious how much they’re loved by you and your husband. You know, and forgive me if I’ve just forgotten about the topic of your book — maybe the cats ARE the topic … but if not, I think you have a wonderful story here to tell about them. After a big storm like the one you all went through I always wonder about the poor animals, what’s happened to them and how they cope. I’d love to read and see photos about your cats, as you have here on your blog, in a book. Wishing you a happy Thursday! 🙂

    • Catwoods says:

      Deb, thank you so much, I’m happy you liked the post! The cats pretty much are the book topic, but there’s also a lot about the natural surroundings, language, my experiences in the southeast … well, there’s a lot crammed in there, lol. The cats in this post are written about along with many others, as it spans 40+ years. And, we’re getting closer … Have a wonderful time today, and always, and do lots of writing! Leah

  31. thank you doing what you can to help these animals…

  32. A tornado destroyed a lot in the town that i used to work in (before i retired). They sure can do real damage. So good that you care for animals and people!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Tom, we’re hoping we did help a bit; so many others helped too, and people came from all over the US and gave freely of their time and efforts. Oh yeah, the damage those storms can do is truly staggering!

  33. I love this story. The pictures of the cats are awesome. I’m from the south been in a tornado. I’m rooting for Tiger to return home and Jack to venture inside. Love your blog!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for your kind words, cattmysticwomon! You’ve been in a tornado too, that’s a pretty horrific experience and I hope you have recovered in every way! Thank you for your hopes about Tiger and Jack!

  34. Joyful2bee says:

    Loved your documentary. The pictures were great. It is wonderful that you are helping them. Thank you for sharing.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Joyful2bee. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      • Joyful2bee says:

        I love cats too. But just have two. You are so wonderful to help so many kitties!

        • Catwoods says:

          I only have one cat in house at the moment, Bud. After the tornado lots of people, not just us, were helping to reunite lost cats with their people and place homeless cats in homes; and for ferals, many people try to TNR them and keep them fed. Many wonderful people also came to help with tornado clean-up and caring for displaced persons, from all over the US.

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