One minute, Carol the cat was playing with her exciting new floppy fish toy. The next, she sensed something serious was coming.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat in this instance, but it certainly startled it.
Vision shared to social media by a Melbourne woman shows the moment a pure white moggy named Carol sensed a significant earthquake just before its tremors were felt.
A magnitude six quake was recorded about 9.15am at Mansfield in Victoria, at a depth of 10 kilometres, and was felt right across the state.
People took to social media to say they felt shakes in Launceston, Adelaide, the New South Wales south coast and even as far away as Sydney.
Geoscience Australia reported a second quake measuring four magnitude, also near Mansfield, some 18 minutes later.
Brodie Lancaster was watching her kitty play with a brand-new toy on the floor of her Melbourne home this morning, videoing her intrigued reaction to the floppy fish.
“You can see her notice something’s happening here before I do,” Ms Lancaster wrote alongside the clip.
Carol pauses her playful swatting of the fish and looks up, momentarily stunned, seemingly sensing what was about to come.
As the shaking begin, she walks towards another room and pauses in the doorway. Funnily enough, it’s safest to shelter in a doorway during strong earthquakes.
“I am a dumb woman who thought for a sec *this toy was making the floor shake*,” Ms Lancaster wrote.
The floppy fish was not injured.
The US Geological Survey, which provides educational materials about natural hazards, says the earliest historical evidence of an animal ‘predicting’ an earthquake comes from 373BC in Greece.
“Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake,” it says.
“Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behaviour anywhere from weeks to seconds before an earthquake.”
Larger domesticated animals like dogs and cats can seemingly sense an upcoming earthquake because their keen senses allow them to feel smaller and subtle waves that emanate from the source before larger ripples.
“Very few humans notice the smaller P wave that travels the fastest from the earthquake source and arrives before the larger S wave,” USGS said.
A seismologist told ABC radio in Melbourne that this was the biggest earthquake Victoria has experienced since European settlement and there will be aftershocks, potentially one magnitude lower.
Garry Gibson said the last time Victoria felt anything like this was in 2009 when there was a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. Australia-wide, we had a bigger one, a magnitude 6.1 or 6.2 near Broome in WA in 2019.