A stray cat sneaked into a locked sea food delicatessen Friday at the international airport in Vladivostok, far eastern Russia, and feasted all night on seafood delicacies worth over $1,000 from the shop’s deli counter.
According to Russia Today, a shop assistant told the Russian news agency Ria Novosti that the stray cat, a ginger tomcat, gorged on squid and dried flatfish worth over $1,000. It also attempted to rip open the packaging of some dried octopus.
The unfortunate shop owner has had to write off the entire seafood content of the counter the feline burglar raided. According to the local news site PrimaMedia, the shop owner has also thoroughly disinfected the shop in compliance with health and safety regulations.
“The cat made its way inside the counter, and ate and nibbled the goods, scratched and wrecked the packaging around the squid and dried fish.”
It is uncertain how the cat was able to enter the locked store, a veritable cat’s heaven. But airport staff who spotted the moggie feasting and alerted the shop owner were able to film it helping itself unhurriedly to gourmet food.
The stray cat shot to international stardom after the video showing him feasting sumptuously went viral online, sparking a frenzy of Russian media attention and public interest.
So intense was the media attention and public interest generated by the stray cat’s $1,000 fish feast escapade that the story temporarily overshadowed gloomier Russian media headline news, such as tumbling oil prices, the falling Russian ruble and the war in Ukraine.
But after a day or two of the story dominating the headlines in the Russian online media, questions began to be asked for the first time about the whereabouts of the famous cat burglar. It was pronounced missing after search involving police yielded no clues.
A source at the airport that spoke with the Russian news agency TASS, confirmed that the cat was missing.
“The cat has disappeared. He was here yesterday, and today he’s not here anymore. He’s been here [at the airport] for some time before the incident. But where he came from and where he’s now gone remains unknown.”
Shop assistants said the cat was a homeless stray that lived near the airport premises. They said the animal was often seen wandering in the terminal area. They also said that people sometimes fed it. But airport officials denied the allegation, saying that official security regulations forbid stray animals in the airport premises.
An airport official suggested that the cat could have been left at the airport by a passenger who did not want to pay extra for its transportation. The airport authorities blamed the shop managers for failing to secure their shop properly. But the seafood store owner blamed the airport for its loss of fish, saying that they failed to ensure that the airport premises were free of stray animals.
Cat lovers in Russia and outside the country have shown concern that the cat might have been killed as an act of revenge by the shop owners. The tomcat’s “fans” who believe it might still be alive have urged the authorities to find it and prevent its life being taken. Some cat lovers have even expressed concern that the animal could be sick after having imbibed a large quantity of dried and salty fish.
Russia Today reports that a group of cat lovers in Vladivostok have launched a search for the animal. The shop owner, Irina Kuzmina, told PrimaMedia that the “crime scene” has become a tourist attraction for locals and international travelers who stream in all day to make inquiries. She said she has also received international callers inquiring about the cat and the incident.
“The shop has been literally occupied by passengers and those who see off or meet them. People come here straight from the terminal, interrogating about the cat. Although, they don’t buy anything; they’re just curious.”
A Russian website that publishes political satire declared the stray cat a “Robin Hood” hero, and offered it membership of its “communist” party group as reward for the heroic act of vandalism against the “bourgeois” capitalist shop owner.
A famous Russian cat tamer, the Moscow Cat Theater’s Yury Kuklachyov, has offered it employment, promising he would compensate the shop owner for the damage in exchange for information leading to recovery of the missing cat.
Meanwhile, the airport authorities have hired a company to keep stray animals out of the premises.
[Image: via Russia Today]