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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“The cat hides under bed before every shelling”

How four-pawed friends help Ukrainian soldiers at the frontlines
22 December, 2014 - 18:01
STRAY CAT VASYL IS NOW LIVING WITH SOLDIERS OF THE 92ND DETACHED MECHANIZED BRIGADE. OUTSIDE THE FRAME ARE FEMALE CAT MURKA, TOMCAT MURZYK, AND LITTLE DOG SHASHLYK. ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE AT LEAST SEVERAL KILOMETERS FROM ROADBLOCKS TO POPULATED AREAS, MANY CATS AND DOGS ARE STILL FINDING A WAY TO OUR MILITARY, FOR THEY WILL ALWAYS FEED, KEEP WARM, AND TAKE CARE OF THEM / Photo by Ivan LIUBYSH-KIRDEI

Cats and dogs live together with Ukrainian soldiers in the line of fire, we hear from servicemen themselves and volunteers who visit them. Our guys keep pets even in the hell which the Donetsk Airport is now.

A Kharkiv group led by Natalka Zubar travelled around Donetsk region and saw a large number of cats at the Ukrainian positions. They believe that cats actually help Ukrainians to fight. “‘The pussycat is fighting’ is not a metaphor. They serve as psychotherapists (or ‘walking happiness,’ quoting one battalion commander) and catch mice and rats, which infest the steppe fortifications. Pussycats and tomcats hear explosions before the people do. They look out for strangers and warn of the danger. Cats are excellent ‘personnel officers’ and their behavior reflects soldiers’ condition,” head of the Maidan Monitoring news agency Natalka Zubar wrote following her trip. She added that the army cats looked plump and well cared for, and there were even those who go on patrol in APCs with soldiers.

“We have a lot of cats here! And a little dog, too,” Kharkiv volunteer soldier Ivan Kravchenko said; he is now fighting in Shchastia. “They came to us of their own accord. Two of the cats were feral, others still kittens. They are keeping together here and do not run away from the noise of explosions. One cat hides under bed before every shelling, and he never failed to predict it! We noticed it, called him the Barometer, and now always know when danger approaches. When someone is sick, a cat always comes and lies down next to the soldier, healing him.”

Volunteers also say that cats and dogs are mostly absent at the separatist positions, and tell stories of the terrorists using animals to clear minefields. Tetiana Kokhanovska, a biologist and expert in the social behavior of animals, believes that the cat is an indicator of human dignity, and attitudes towards pets display a people’s degree of civilization: “Cats are social animals who live with people. They join our side, as they feel that our people are humane. Meanwhile, the way of life on the other side of the front is such that animals do not see this environment as suitable for them. Cats sense nobleness and kindness of Ukrainian soldiers at the biological level, and pets’ presence among our men is showing the great civilizational difference between Ukrainians on the one hand and Russian soldiers and pro-Russian militants on the other, who are brutal with both people and animals.”

By Aliona SOKOLYNSKA, Kharkiv

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