Ukrainian soldiers love cats. Good, as stray cats and dogs outnumber humans in many places

Kitten and Ukrainian soldier
Kitten and Ukrainian soldier. Image: Twitter.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

NEWS AND OPINION: Currently, in many places in Ukraine stray cats and dogs, left behind by their owners who’ve fled or died, outnumber the remaining human residents. Where there is less human life, the more animals there are, according to The Washington Post.

This is the animal cost of the war. We should not forget the animals. Think how tragic it is for them to be starving and I’m sure many starving to death in the Ukraine war. In an earlier post I reported that an estimated around a third of a million animals had been killed in the Ukraine war and that was about three months ago.

Woman with her cat being helped by Ukrainian soldier
Woman with her cat being helped by Ukrainian soldiers. Image: Donbas Frontliner: Andrly Duchak.

Where the Russians had left their trail of destruction behind them with looted shops and destroyed homes surrounded by dead Ukrainian bodies, there might be a cat or dog scavenging to survive.

The Washington Post journalist, Yehor Firsov, served in the Kyiv Territorial Defence Forces. He has seen things first hand.

In a yard he found 4 corpses, a pit bull terrier and a German Shepherd probably barely alive. They were guarding their owners’ decomposing bodies and refused to leave.

He paints a very tragic picture, but it isn’t the only picture that he paints about the left behind animals. He visited a bombed-out high-rise apartment building with shattered windows surrounding it. There was broken glass everywhere. He heard the sound of steps on glass and turned to see a grey tabby cat. His paws were bleeding, and he was purring. Pleased to see him.

The tabby cat was well groomed and therefore someone’s pet left behind. Or killed inside the building. He posts a picture of the cat on social media and the owners came forward to claim him. He had made friends with this cat, and he was sad and happy at the same time that he had been reunited with his owners.

There are many pictures of Ukrainian soldiers with cats. There’s a tweet: “Vadym and his kitten Olenka in their trench in Donetsk. We spent a few hours there and saw how tough and dangerous it is”.

It’s a great picture of what I believe is a torbie cat (quite a rare cat coat) with the soldier. They are both living under obviously very dangerous circumstances. It’s great to see that they have each other.

Both of them have submitted to these dangerous circumstances without a decision of their own. The cat wants to be with the soldier for their survival and the soldier has to defend his country against Putin’s invasion. You feel for both of them. They could both die together at any time.

And there’s another great picture from the Twitter feed of Defence of Ukraine of a tabby kitten on the shoulder of the Ukrainian soldier heading the page. It’s accompanied by the words “After all, they not only lift their spirits, but are also able to see perfectly in the dark. The occupiers have nowhere to hide”.

PETA reports on one operation to rescue cats in Ukraine and said that they negotiated with the Polish authorities to allow her to bring 12 cats over the border into Poland. Daniel Cox of PETA said that that was not unusual.

There are some great people rescuing animals but I’m sure that there are too many. They can’t rescue them all. They have been thrust into this war. They are innocent victims.

It is suggested that the PR department of the Ukrainian army is using pictures of their soldiers with cats and dogs to promote an agenda: that they are more humanitarian and kinder than the Russian invaders. I’m sure it works but the world, by now, understands that Russian soldiers are brutal murderers, often drunk according to reports, and hellbent on destruction, rape and pillage. The complete degeneration of human behaviour.

One celebrity cat, Stephan has become a bit of a star with more than 1 million followers on Instagram. He was appointed ambassador of a project to save Ukraine’s cultural heritage. And you may remember the little bomb-detecting dog, Patron, who was awarded a medal for his services from Pres Volodymyr Zelensky. He is on a stamp! He’s that famous. See below.

Ukrainian mine-sniffing dog receives award from President Volodymyr Zelensky

Another tragedy is that not every Ukrainian spays and neuters their domestic cat and dog companions which means they are breeding without their owners. They are becoming feral and swelling the numbers of unowned cats and dogs.

In one village, Yehor Firsov came across a woman surrounded by 12 cats. He asks whether they all belong to her, and she replied that just one is hers. “These are all the cats of my neighbours. They left, and we fed their pets.”

Many Ukrainians who left the country took their pets with them, but many have not. Do we criticise them? They’ve abandoned their companion animals. I don’t think we can but if one person finds the strength to take their pets with them, it is possible. I certainly couldn’t leave my pet behind.

Below are some more articles on animals in the Ukraine war.

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