Unable to sleep due to the recent accidental death of her pet Tabby, eight-year-old Ann hears the cries of a feral cat outside in her backyard; she sneaks out into the night, in advance of an oncoming storm, where she injures her leg and cannot get to safety. Ann rebels against her loss, becoming petulant and defiant, disguising her inner pain and her longing to embrace her cat once more. The cries of the feral cat express Ann's angst and provide her with a way to come to the rescue, and to assuage her misplaced guilt for Tabby's death. Facing a life-threatening situation, Ann learns about the injustice of death - and the restorative power of love.
Ann is focused on the feral cat. She does not tell her parents about it, since they would probably forbid her from going outside and, if they rescued the cat themselves, Ann would forfeit the opportunity to save the cat herself.
There is an urgency in this rescue, as Ann has to act before she is discovered outside, and because a big storm is coming. There is a stark contrast between the subjective positive - young Ann's tender and heroic notions - and the objective negative - the imminent arrival of the mindless and destructive storm. Then, there is the reality that Ann is more motivated by the need to clear her conscience (she did not kill Tabby, but she left a window open, which led to his death), than her concern about this unknown feral.
Immobilized by a broken leg from falling in the mud in the yard as the tornado approaches, and being unable to alert her parents due to the howling noise of the wind and rain, Ann faces the possibility of death and learns how much life and love (of her parents) really mean to her.
The twist ending has Ann's mother standing at the back door, searching in vain for her missing daughter, when the feral cat screams wildly and, instead of running away, leads the mother to Ann, who has passed out from the pain of her injury. Everyone gets to safety, including the feral, who is lured inside the house by a can of tuna offered by Ann's father. When Ann awakens, she expresses her joy and gratitude and learns to forgive herself.