A quick note: I have been planning this series of posts for a couple of months now to coincide with the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It just so happens that Louisiana is currently experiencing massive flooding. Graciously researched and provided by Kat McCann, I have included links to a few animal organizations at the bottom of this post in case you want to help. ~Rachel
When Kat McCann and I first discussed the possibility of a post, it was initially to talk about her love for black cats. As she began to tell her story, it was obvious to me that she is clearly a cat lover, but that she had a unique experience, and fortunately she was willing to share it with me. And that extraordinary tale was when she evacuated during Hurricane Katrina with her two cats, with a third joining her shortly thereafter.
Kat told such an intriguing story that I have turned it into a series of three posts, presenting them during this month of August, which is the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. And also one that changed certain policies about evacuating with pets, including establishing a federal bill, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, which ensures that “state and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency.” Source
In the first part of Kat’s story, we learn about her love for cats and the two that were with her right before and during the storm. I hope this post helps remind people about the importance of being prepared for a disaster when you have pets. Kat’s story, to me, also shows the love that one woman has for her feline friends.
Before telling the story of Katrina, let’s begin with Kat’s life prior to the storm to give you a little background on her love for cats and how two of her cats, Blackie and GrisGris, came to live with her.
Kat and Her Cats
(In her own words)
Growing up, we were at the edge of the city, and my family seemed to always have dogs and chickens, but no cats. I was about eight years old, when I found a stray white cat under a bush in our front yard. My dad said no, but eventually grew to accept Kit Edward Snowball. Mom explained to him that the cat chose me – and that was that.
While I do love all animals, over my lifetime I have had guardianship of 17 cats, of which 11 are/were black. Bathsheba was my first black cat, a stray kitten that kept jumping in my first husband’s car. We had her for 15 years. I knew the stories about them – how some viewed them as bad luck. But once I had Bathsheba, I saw firsthand how people were actually prejudiced against them. I found Bathsheba to be exceptionally loving and smart! I taught her several tricks. It was a shame that I couldn’t show all of my friends, as there were some who didn’t come to see me because I had a black cat in my home! Needless to say, they didn’t remain my friends for long.
After Bathsheba went over the rainbow bridge, my then husband and I each adopted a black cat – Antigone and Cleopatra. Antigone (Ginny) was a kitten abandoned with her litter mates in a lady’s backyard and was feral. Once I got her to come to me, she trusted no one else. Cleopatra (Cleo) was from the SPCA. She was a polydactyl and was my husband’s cat alone. We were a happy family.
Then a year later, Blackie wandered into our backyard. She didn’t want anything from us but food and to lay on our back porch. One day, though, I saw that Blackie was limping. I somehow captured her and got her to the vet, where we found out a dog had gotten hold of her. $200 later she was good to go – inside. Blackie was happy to be inside where the dogs were not.
When my first husband and I divorced, I got custody of Ginny and Blackie, and we lived our lives happily as a female family. After a time, I was at a bookstore where they were having a pet adoption, and I absolutely fell in love with a very vocal, active black kitten! I called him GrisGris. He became my best mate, and the ‘girls’ fell for him as well.
Everything went great for a time, but then Ginny got cancer and she joined Bathsheba over the rainbow bridge. Ginny was 14. I was sad, but I knew that she had a long and happy life. At that time, I still had Blackie and GrisGris.
More to Come!
Blackie and GrisGris joined Kat in her journey as she escaped Hurricane Katrina, and Kat will share more about that in the next part of our series.
But first, I asked Kat to share a little more with us about her cats. Since Hurricane Katrina, Kat has added five more cats to her household – Kizzie, Jockamo, Feenanay, Mojeaux and GiGi. And you guessed it, all are black cats! While some found her, Kat has also adopted from rescues.
Kat and her second husband, Dennis, don’t have children of the two-legged variety, but of course their cats are their children! And no doubt that the experience Kat went through with Katrina, she is more aware than ever of needing to think ahead and plan long-term. Kat and Dennis have made provisions for their cats in their will. They visited their attorney, a fellow cat lover, and dictated that whatever cats they have will be provided for and they have also found guardians who have agreed to their care.
When I asked Kat for a fun fact, she said: “I sing, and when I do, I sing soprano! This happens to be an occasion when Jockamo and Feenanay decide that I am in pain, and they both gather around and try to comfort me! Therefore, I don’t practice much at home!”
Please join us next week for Part 2 as Kat tells the evacuation journey with her two cats during Hurricane Katrina. And in the final post, find out what happened and which cat joined Kat’s feline family in the midst of the disaster.
Animal Rescue Organizations in Louisiana
Zeus’ Rescues, a no-kill shelter in New Orleans, is taking overflow from some of the flooded parishes. They are currently in need of all kinds of supplies. zeusrescues.org
Animal Rescue New Orleans is also a no-kill shelter taking overflow from flooded parishes. animalrescueneworleans.org
The Louisiana State Animal Response Team was just coming together when Hurricane Katrina hit. The organization coordinates animal rescue efforts throughout the state between animal shelters to get animals rescued and placed where they will get the proper care so that any one organization is not overloaded. lsart.org
The Louisiana SPCA is also assisting with animal rescue efforts in the flood areas and they are seeking supplies. la-spca.org
This is just a small list to start with. If you know of other animal organizations helping, you can leave them in the comments.