Cats.—The following extraordinary anecdote of the sensibility of cats to approaching danger from earthquakes, is well authenticated. In the year 1783, two cats, belonging to a merchant of Messina, in Sicily, announced to them the approach of an earthquake. Before the first shock was felt, these two animals seemed anxiously to work their way through the door of the room in which they were. Their master observing their fruitless efforts, opened the door for them. At a second and third door, which they likewise found shut, they repeated their efforts, and on being set completely at liberty, they ran straight through the street, and out of the gate of the town. The merchant, whose curiosity was excited by this strange conduct of the cats, followed them into the fields, where he again saw them scratching and burrowing in the earth. Soon after there was a violent shock of an earthquake, and many of the houses in the city fell down, of which number the merchant's was one, so that he was indebted for his life to the singular forebodings of his cats.
-- from The young gentleman's book: containing a series of choice readings in popular science and natural history, together with retrospective essays, conversations, literary reminiscences, etc. (Third edition: London, Baldwin and Cradock, 1834) p. 101.