ATO soldiers love their battalion cats, share food with them, give them shelter and even dedicate poems to their feline friends, whose soft purring echoes among the ruined buildings of the Donbas.
Cats can be seen in every trench, at every checkpoint and on the front lines. There are homeless cats, cats abandoned by civilians fleeing the war, cats that were born during ATO, and cats running from sadistic mercenaries.
Ukrainian soldiers treat their feline friends with great love and respect as cats provide both affection, comfort and warmth. They are considered reliable companions and some even chase and catch scavenging mice (if they’re not too lazy, of course).
One soldier even composed a poem dedicated to Mr. Cat.
Others express their affection for their cats through photos.
Dogs are rarely seen on the front lines as they tend to bark and make more noise. They must be specially trained and are used mainly for particular assignments. Army cats don’t make much noise and stick close to their masters….
The soldiers love to watch trench kittens walking among the guards, barricades and armoured fighting vehicles.
Volunteers who travel through the occupied territories report that they occasionally see wild dogs near terrorist checkpoints, but hardly ever any cats. And there’s a reason for this… a horrible one, in fact. The terrorists capture stray cats and use them to disable tripwires.
The terrorists spray the tails of the cats with turpentine or gasoline and point the unfortunate animals towards mined fields. To make sure these operations work, the terrorists tie a burning stick to the tails of the cats and force them to run into the fields. There are no more cats left in these occupied territories…
Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers find it more difficult to understand violence towards animals than violence towards humans because people, unlike animals, can resist and defend themselves.
When asked whether killing a cat is less cruel than killing a human being, one soldier answered that a human being has a choice and can fight back, whereas an animal in flames is helpless.
Using animals for demining is not new for the Soviet-Russian army. Anti-tank dogs carried explosives to tanks, armoured vehicles and other military targets. (They were intensively trained by the Soviet and Russian military forces between 1930 and 1996 and used in 1941–1942 against German tanks in World War II. Although the original dog training routine was to leave the bomb and retreat so that the bomb would be detonated by the timer, this routine failed and was replaced by an impact detonation procedure which killed the dog in the process-Ed).
Soldiers also told us the story of one army cat that climbed into an APC and now regularly patrols the frontlines.
P.S. Cats can also keep you warm and comfy on a cold winter night… just hug kitty to your bosom and you’ll both feel snug and warm.