Picked Up Off the Ground by a Tornado and Slammed into a Board, Spinner Sustains a Broken Leg but Survives Muddy and Unbowed to Live Another Day
"She couldn't move and she couldn't meow. Her littermates were in the trees. They didn't make it."
-- Dan Smith of Albert Lea Veterinary Clinic
Tornadoes are difficult enough for humans to survive but for kittens they most often are a death sentence. Because of their diminutive size, they are easily picked up off the ground by the wind, bandied about, and then slammed into nearby buildings.
That is precisely what happened to a pretty tortoiseshell kitten known as Spinner on June 17th when a deadly twister roared through rural Armstrong outside of Albert Lea in southeast Minnesota. Covered in mud and near death, she was found plastered to a board on Curtis Petersen's farm.
"She couldn't move and she couldn't meow," Dan Smith of the Albert Lea Veterinary Clinic told the Albert Lea Tribune on July 2nd. (See "Meet the Kitty That Survived a Tornado.") "Her littermates were in the trees. They didn't make it."
She was alive, however, and that was the important thing. After being cleaned up and fed, it was discovered that she had sustained a broken leg which Smith was able to mend with a pin. (See photo of her above.)
"Three-legged cats have some appeal, but kittens have such small bones I was able to fix it quicker than I could have amputated," he told the Albert Lea Tribune. "I opted to fix the leg and have done with it."
That not only was the intelligent thing to have done but the humane one as well. It would have been heartless to have turned this vivacious kitten into an invalid for life when all she needed was to have her injured leg repaired.
Spinner was expected to spend several weeks recuperating at Smith's surgery before being put up for adoption in either late July or early August. "She's got a great presence for a farm cat," Smith added. "She's not a complainer at all."
Spinner and her siblings were far from being the only cats victimized by the tornado. For example, a pair of kittens was picked up and deposited in the parking lot of the old Walmart store in Albert Lea. Their rescuers compassionately elected to adopt them after they were given a clean bill of health by Smith.
In addition to numerous cats, several dogs also were injured by the twister. Although no estimates have been made public, the tornado likely took its toll on farm and wild animals as well.
Saving Spinner's life is, however, what will stick in Smith's memory of the June 17th tornado. "She was a little something good to come out of all this," he told the Albert Lea Tribune in the article cited supra.
Whereas most individuals can readily comprehend that tornadoes and cats are a deadly mix, many of these same persons steadfastly cling to the erroneous belief that cats are capable of surviving cold and snow, brush and forest fires, and hurricanes. (See Cat Defender posts of January 21, 2010, July 3, 2008, and December 19, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Trapped Outdoors in a Snowstorm, Annie Is Brought Back from the Dead by the Compassion of a Good Samaritan and an Animal Control Officer," "Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire," and "At Least 100,000 Cats and Dogs Were Killed by Katrina Along the Gulf Coast.")
Nothing could be further from the truth. Even under normal circumstances cats need at a minimum food, water, and shelter. If it is at all feasible, veterinary care and protection from their sworn enemies, both human and wild, should be provided.
The thousands of volunteers who so generously donate their money, time, and labor to homeless cats are doing an herculean job but much more desperately needs to be done. That is especially true during the wintertime and natural disasters.
Finally, the person lucky enough to adopt Spinner will be getting a pretty special cat who already has survived enough misfortune to last her a lifetime. Hopefully, this individual will have enough compassion to keep her safe from tornadoes as well as be able to provide her with a warm place inside during Minnesota's simply hellish winters.
Photo: Geri McShane of the Albert Lea Tribune.