Hurricane Irma’s Cat Heroes work before the storm hits Florida

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Ernest Hemingway House and Museum

Hurricane Irma’s Cat Heroes will be many, as many humans are going above and beyond to stand by and save cats, even before the massive Hurricane hit Florida. The devastation from this now Category 4 hurricane  was expected to be massive.

Hurricane Irma Cat Heros
Feral cats are at risk during Hurricane Irma


Here, we want to look at 3 stories that show how far we’ve come since Hurricane Katrina some 12 years ago, leaving thousands of pets in peril and estranged from their humans.

Lessons learned from that catastrophic event have lead shelters throughout Florida moving the shelter pets to other shelters throughout the country in advance of the storm. The idea is to move the animals, making room for the pets that need to be rescued. Those rescued pets will be closer to home, making it easier for them to be reunited with their owners.

With Katrina, it was opposite. The rescued pets were sent to shelters far away, making it difficult for their humans to find them.

According to news reports, cats, dogs and other companion animals were being flown to California, Illinois, and a host of other states, clearing the Florida shelters for what’s to come. They are being proactive rather than reactive. These pets join the many cats and dogs still being flown out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, ravaging the Houston area with record breaking flooding.

The ASPCA, American Humane Society and many others have stepped up to the plate for these pre-evacuation plans from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, making it a bit better for the animals.

Another huge change from the days of Katrina is public officials have stated, ‘Don’t leave your pets behind when you evacuate’.

Paws also find emergency plans advising taking your pet with you to the ‘safe area’ in your house. Don’t leave them freely roaming inside the house, and keep them confined to a carrier or a leash. They also advise careening off places in the safe area where a cat or other pet could hide or escape. The plans warn, they like you will be scared and will bolt if they can.

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    Additionally, Paws find people have been advised to check first to be sure a hotel or shelter will take pets, and make alternative plans if they don’t.

    Hurricane Irma’s Cat Heroes will be many – meet Mary Garcia

    Not all will be well for the cats in Florida, but thanks to the efforts of animal lover Mary Garcia, 40 feral cats from Miami Beach will live to see another day. According to reports, she cleared out two rooms in her house in inland Miami-Dad County, stocked up on cat food and kennels to give refuge to the cats. She reportedly joked her house was becoming an animal hostel.

    A police officer, she has been involved in TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) of the feral cats in that area for years. While she couldn’t rescue them all, she did gets as many as she could. Focusing on the cats that she had been feeding, she could scoop up some. Others she had to trap.

    Miami Beach has had cat colonies, dating back t its early years. Mayor J.N. Lummus imported felines in 1912, hoping they would take care of the thousands of rats. The cats multiplied, and probably many of the current cat residents are descendants of those original felines. At Paws, we would expect to see Garcia out after the storm seeing if there are more ferals that she can help.

    Hurricane Irma’s Cat Heroes will be many – The Hemingway Home & Museum

    Hurricane Irma's heros will be many
    Hemingway House and Museum

    While this might well be a totally different  blog post, due to the storm having hit Key West, Paws wants to address our concern about the 52 poly-dactyl cats and nine humans hunkered down at the Ernest Hemingway home and Museum.

    Despite pleas from Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter, actress Muriel Hemingway, to ‘get in the car and take off’, and rescue the cats if you can,, David Gonzles, executive director of the Hemingway House and Museum and Jaque Sands, general manager, have opted to ride out the storm, expected to hammer Key West. They are hoping the 1852 home with 18-inch limestone walls, located 16-feet above sea level, will endure the projected 12-foot storm surge. This despite Florida Governor Rick Scott’s warning to Key West residents, ‘You can’t survive this.’

    In media reports, Sands stated transporting the cats in stop-and-go traffic in 90-degree heat was not an option. However, those that stay on say the house has never lost a cat to a hurricane, and we certainly hope it stays that way.

    Famous author Ernest Hemingway was a dog person till someone gave him a cat named Snow White or Snowball. That was the beginning of his love for cats, and many of us can certainly relate to that. Paws has written about the Museum. For more, check out: Will Hemingway’s House go to the Supreme Court?

    FYI:  That issue was resolved, and the kitties remain.

    As the rescue begins and recovery starts, there will be more heroic stories involving cats from Hurricane Irma. Paws knows several cat writers, bloggers, and friends who live in the Hurricane’s path, and we look to the powers above to help them, the cats, and all animals affected by this massive weather event.

    While this post is not a selfie, Paws thought it should be shared on Sunday’s Selfie’s Hosted by The Cat on My Head.

    Sunday Selfie Blog Hop
    This Sunday Selfies Blog Hop is being hosted by Cat on My Head

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    Do you have some Hurricane stories to share? What do you think you would do if you were in the path of a major hurricane or tornado? Do you have an evacuation plan for an emergency? Do you know anyone that has been involved in the relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma? If so, please share, as our readers would like to hear about these unsung heroes.

    Check out our Friends in this Sunday’s Selfie’s BlogHop.

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    BJ Bangs is an award-winning journalist, photographer, and communication professional who is an aspiring author. She loves everything about cats, including visiting cool cat places and events and writing about them.


    1. I’m curious to see how Officer Garcia’s cats fared and how the ferals along Miami are doing. I did see the Hemingway cats and caretakers came through the storm well, and the museum didn’t sustain damage.

    2. Funny you mention the Hemingway House I just read they made it through OK * Phew *

      We still have a lot to learn don’t we about rescues and compassion.

      Happy late Sunday Selfie.

      Marjorie and the Dash Kitten Crew

    3. Word has finally come in from Key West that staff and kitties weathered the storm at Hemingway House, and the home itself didn’t receive any major structural damage. That was a relief to hear!

    4. This is all so tragic. I’m just worried sick for everyone in Florida, but I must admit especially for the 4-legged victims 🙁

    5. I did not know some of this and cried half way through the post. Praying for the best for our furry friends.and freaks.
      Yael from

      • It really makes us think what would we do? And even though I’m not in a hurricane prone area, we all need to be prepared.So glad to see the per-evacuation efforts before the storm. We’ve come a long ways!8 Got to admit I had a lot of teary eyes over the past week.

    6. I hope they will all be okay. I don’t think I could ever live in a place prone to get hurricanes of that magnitude passing through. It takes a strength I don’t think I have to rebuild after hurricanes like Harvey and Irma.

    7. What a lovely, and thought provoking and apt post to make. I read Officer Garcia’s story yesterday and was very impressed with her actions, displaying a quality that better demonstrates how I would want humanity to be thought of. No doubt there are and will be many more such wonderful true accounts of selfless acts, and I think we should applaud and praise and encourage them all this Sunday and in weeks to come.


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