As Blanks settle into consistent routine, so does family catWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Toledo Free Press will follow the Blank family of Millbury for the next year as they rebuild their lives after a June 5 tornado destroyed their Main Street home.
When the Blanks moved into their rebuilt home last month, everyone was ecstatic, except Rippy, who had a few choice meows.
“He likes it now, but the night he came, he cried a long time because he didn’t know what was going on,” Julie Blank said.
The 4-year-old cat named after basketball player Rip Hamilton lost his home like the rest of the family when a tornado tore through Millbury. After being lost and found, Rippy moved with the rest of the family to their friends’ house in Perrysburg Township. Six weeks later, he moved with the family into a condo in Oregon.
When Rippy moved yet again in December, he became frazzled. John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS), said the cat’s reaction was normal. TAHS is part of the DART team — Disaster Animal Response Team, which went out the day after the tornado to look for missing animals.
Pets are not people, but they have some of the same characteristics as people and they like consistency,” Dinon said.
But just like people, animals vary in how they handle change, he said. Animal behavior is situation dependent. When people adopt from the shelter, animals are thought to be a certain way, but the assumption is once they get into a house situation, which is more normal than a shelter, things will get better, Dinon said.
Rippy only spent a little time at the shelter after the post-tornado chaos separated him from his family.
Julie doesn’t exactly know how it happened, but the night of the tornado, Rippy was in the basement with the family. When the water lines broke, she thinks he jumped into a cubby hole. Julie and the rest of the family lost track of him as they climbed through the rubble that used to be their house. Julie remembers thinking, “I just thought I had to worry about human life.”
But the next day, when a person at the scene said a cat had been found in a basement and taken to the Wood County Humane Society, Julie said, “Oh my God, it is mine.”
Dinon said the best way to help a pet adjust to a change is to keep some things as consistent as possible. In the Blanks’ case, it was good they kept the cat with them, even though they were moving a lot. Another tip is to set up a spot with a favorite bed and toy.