My latest book Quake Cats was released almost a week ago and since it hit the shelves of bookstores all around New Zealand, I have heard many more stories of Quake Cats from owners who have seen the book.

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I thought I’d share this story and images of Bella, sent by her owner Vanda Chandran. It tells of Bella’s ordeal being trapped under the house covered in wastewater.

Bella came to live with our family from Cats Protection League a couple of years before the earthquakes started. She was about 4 years old then. On 22 February 2011, I had just got home and Bella came inside with me and was hanging around in the kitchen. She was feeling more confident these days, after being a bit traumatised from the September quake.

She was just starting to come back into the house. After September she would run inside, eat then run outside again, she actually lost weight! When the shaking began on that afternoon in February she froze, all the glasses, food and other items were flying out of the pantry and smashing around her. As the shaking subsided she ran out the cat door as fast as she could go.

After getting my youngest son from school and waiting outside with the neighbours for my teenage son to get home from high school, I checked on the rabbit and guinea pig who were both fine. Because of the flooding of wastewater and burst pipes, I thought I should put them on the deck in case it got worse, so a neighbour helped with that. I called Bella but didn’t hear or see her; I assumed she would be hiding somewhere, as cats do. We stayed with friends that night; our house was an absolute mess inside and out.

Bella has settled back into life after the Christchurch Quakes.

Bella has settled back into life after the Christchurch Quakes.

The next day we went to check and feed the animals and reassess the damage with my teenager, his friend and my younger son, my husband was overseas at the time. When we walked inside I could hear Bella meowing, calling her name trying to work out where she was, we realised her meows were coming from under the bathroom. She was trapped under the house, which had come off its foundations and was flat on the ground, surrounded in wastewater! We had to figure out how to get her out. We went to the side of the house where the bathroom was and spotted an air vent above the water, so the older boys got tools from the shed and smashed the air vent until the hole was large enough for her to get out. We put a plank of wood into the hole so she could climb out over the water, which she got straight onto and walked out.

The poor girl had been sitting half in the wastewater for almost 24 hours. I grabbed a towel and gave her a wash using water we stored in the shed. I looked in the hole with the torch and saw she had been sitting on a beam, which prevented her from being completely submerged. We are so lucky to still have her and that she survived her horrible ordeal. She is such a beautiful gentle cat who has relaxed again and is happy in our new home.

A hole in a vent and a plank of wood saved Bella.

A hole in a vent and a plank of wood saved Bella.

Thank you Vanda for sharing Bella’s story. If you have a Quake Cat story, I’d love to hear from you, contact me on the Quake Cats Facebook page.

Signed copies of Quake Cats are available from the FURtography shop now. It is also available in bookstores nationwide.