So far, I've heard that horses at a show up in Kamuela started bucking several seconds before and that fish at a pond in one of the resorts started jumping as much as minutes before the quake. There's even a report about cockroaches going crazy the night before.
At the scale of a few seconds, I can certainly believe that different species might sense and react at different rates to the first waves and/or there may be some kind of "precursor" wave. In this case, there was absolutely a "build up" to the major shaking and I find it interesting that Tina had gotten out of bed literally in 1 or 2 seconds before the onset.
On the other hand, this island is littered with seismometers due to the volcanoes and if there were long-wavelength precursor waves, they would be visible in the data. Further, while I've heard some theories about gas releases presaging quakes, this quake was not a tectonic slip and originated both 24 miles down and at sea, so if animals here sensed it in the same way they sense a quake in California, you've got a problem with mechanism.
Personally, I think that people's need to project certainty onto an uncertain world is one of the strongest mechanisms of the human psyche.