28 cats travel to war. A story of love and solidarity that transcends borders

The story features 28 cats and six women from four countries.

Maria and Halina – Ukrainian women who receive homeless people in the capital of their countries, pick up abandoned cats and rescue people whom no one else wants. Before the war, they decided to flee with all those under their protection. A trip from Kiev to Lviv costs $ 1,000, says Halyna. It was difficult to find one who would decide to take two women and 28 cats from the war zone. “The bombing continued, we were very scared,” says Halyna. “The whole trip, which usually took 6-7 hours, took 20 hours. We had to stop at each checkpoint,” he added.

From Lviv, Maria and Halina went to Poland. Here they join history Tanja and MargotIt caused an internet storm to help Ukrainian cats. Yes, they did Qacabrought the animals to Krakow. The sixth protagonist of the story Magdaa place where cats find safe shelter.

“I was in Biedronka when my friend called me and didn’t know who to tell, and he said he loved cats. And a vehicle with 28 cats only goes from Ukraine to Poland, and they need help, “said Gaja Grzegorzewska, a Krakow writer and author of crime novels who learned about the cat rescue operation. “I’ve never rescued animals before.” At one point, he added, there were more people rescuing cats than cats.

The work of 28

“Just as Russia started its occupation and genocide at the very beginning of the war, a huge and massive aid network was created. I myself belong to several animal welfare groups, and I don’t know where I read about the twenty-eight people who went from Kiev to Poland, ”said Tanja Siren, who lives between Finland and Berlin. ”. “I wrote to Margot, who published this article, and posted the information on Instagram. There, Eliza contacted me and offered to help in Krakow. We created a chat, Eliza added Gaia to it. Thus, “the work of the international 28 has begun,” says Margot, a British man who also participates in online aid.

Poland was supposed to be just a stop for Ukrainian cats. Maria and Halina were so tired that they needed a place to rest for two or three days before continuing their journey abroad.

“I started looking for a place where these cats could stay overnight. “I called Magda, who runs a hotel for dogs in Siepraw, near Krakow,” Gaja said. decided not to accept, because the dogs will be happy to give such a snack. He promised to find an alternative. After 10 minutes, a text message: “Well, give them here, we will somehow adapt.”

Cats go to Poland

Cats go to Siepraw

Magdalena Leśniak runs a livestock farm and a hotel in Siepraw, and is also an inspector with the Krakow Society for Animal Care (KTOZ). A few days ago, he and his partner posted on Facebook that they could accept refugees with pets. “I know that many people who fled with animals had trouble finding a place to live,” he told OKO.press. “We have the conditions. True, I have a large herd of dogs, but fortunately the cats survived, ”he smiled.

It was only necessary to buy litter for cats, and the role of Gaia in the history of Kyiv cats had to end. Magda was waiting for them in Siepra. On Saturday, March 5, they had to cross the Korchova border and reach Malopolskaya. Sleep and drive.

“There is a phone call at night, Magda calls to go to the border to get it. And there is a problem, because this car has not only Maria, but also her mother – we did not know that before. He has to find some kind of transport, because Magda’s car is for two people. We are looking for it again, we are connecting it, because we don’t have a car. ”

One night at the border

At the border between Korczow and Kralowiec, Maria and Halyna waited all night. “Our cats have vaccines, chips and passports, but the veterinarian didn’t even want to look at the documents when they got the veterinary permit,” Halyna said. “He said he would send us back to Ukraine and we would never allow us to enter. We spent about 7 hours there. The veterinarian advised the border guards what to do, but no one answered. They couldn’t take us back because we already had stamps in our passports. We got tired and after a long journey, the cats became stressed and refused to eat, “said the cat caretaker.

“I found out at 6 in the morning that they had not yet entered Poland because the services did not want to let the cats in,” recalls Magdalena Leśniak. One person – according to the rules – can carry up to five animals. There were several times more of them in transport. Everyone is vaccinated, with a passport – but that doesn’t change anything.

Gaja: “Again, stress, the signal at the border disappears. A stack of documents for each cat, Maria made a mistake, had to rewrite them. They argued with their mothers that they should carry these cats. There was a huge line behind them, everyone was nervous, the cats were on the road on the fifth day, they stressed. It was a day when the lions going to the zoo in Poznan did not want to cross the border.

Safe cats in Siepraw

The whole district is talking about cats

He began to note all possible connections. It almost came to Centaurus, a fund that has been going to Ukraine to save animals since the war began. There he heard that it was necessary to fight like Maria and her mother, because it would not only give Korchova time to go, but also show the border veterinarian that the rules need to be changed.

On the threshold of chaos – Magdalena remembers. Cars were lined up in the hallway, and the weather was getting more and more irritating. There were thoughts: maybe go back somehow and try to cross Medyka? But how can you hand over cats to people so that there are five “pieces” per person? “Then when someone asked us how we could cross the border with more animals, we said, ‘Take as many people as possible so that each of them gets five dogs and cats,'” Halyna said.

“After this fight, which lasted for many hours, the veterinarian became so angry that he threw away the papers and told them to go with these cats,” said Gaja Grzegorzewska. “In the meantime, we were able to ask our friends to come from Krakow and take one of the cat caretakers to the car. They hid on the highway and waited for news. I was told that they had learned about the cat scandal from the police, and probably all Yaroslawski already knew about the poviat fight!

Two suitcases, 28 cats

They found their way to Sieprava near Krakow only on Sunday afternoon. “We all died with the cats. Although there were 28 of them, they crawled into the room so hard that they could not be seen. “Some of them went to bed with the girls,” said Magdalena Leśniak. .

Gaja Grzegorzewska made a drop for more transport with friends. Temporary homes for cats abroad were built in advance. They raised twice as much money as they needed, so the surplus went to the Krakow Society for the Protection of Animals. “I went to help collect these cats, but also to reward myself for this stress and to caress them,” the writer smiles.

“It simply came to my notice then because it was all over. But then I was afraid that these cats would be put to bed at the border or let out. “

Gaja Grzegorzewska collects cats on a bus to temporary homes

Happy ending

“It was one of the first evacuation operations I took part in,” says Tanja. “Many animal convoys are kept at the border, moving from one side to the other. At the same time, we work on many issues, albeit remotely. However, the 28-cat fight was definitely the longest, “he said.

After this action, many people came to Kaya for help. “But I don’t know anything about it, I’m not a member of any foundation. My wife and I decided to build temporary houses in Krakow. We were able to arrange such houses for a large number of cats and a bulldog.

We cooperate informally with various organizations. We hear from them that nothing has changed at the border. After that, the rules are not clear and people rely on the humor of veterinarians and customs officers, “he said.

Now calm and safe, Halyna asks you to write thank you to everyone involved in rescuing the cats. He praises the Poles for helping at the border.

“We have covered more than 1,200 kilometers. But here some of the cats in our shelter stayed in good houses, seven of our cats are in a temporary home, we continue to visit them. Their food is free, but we still bring them their favorite delicacies. ” Halyna and Maria are looking for an apartment where they can live with their seven cats. They are also worried about the 12 dogs they saw in Kiev. “The squirrels lived outside, guarding the businesses in the neighborhood,” he said. Now our neighbors, our volunteers, give them food, send money for food, call, ask. We are worried. Today is calm in Kiev, but who knows what will happen tomorrow?

Katarzyna Kojzar
Katarzyna Kojzar

A graduate of Jagiellonian University and the Polish School of Reporting. At OKO.press, he focuses on environmental issues, animal rights, climate change and energy.

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