Stepan, a Ukrainian cat with over 1 million followers, is now safe in France after the cat’s fans raised concerns over his safety when his Instagram page went weeks without any posts.
The cat’s handler, took to social media on Friday March 18, to reveal that they had been forced to flee war-torn Kharkiv amid the war. He also revealed that they went through a gruelling journey by train and on foot.
Stepan aged 13, became popular on Instagram thanks to his amusing photos and to his singature grumpy poses.
His owner, a lady called Anna regularly updates his Instagram account (@loveyoustepan) regularly, so when it went silent for almost two weeks, with no posts between March 3 and 16, fans started to worry they may have been hurt or killed by attacks on Kharkiv, where they live.
Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second largest city, is around 25 miles away from the Russian border, making it a major target. Though Russian troops have not yet managed to capture it, it has faced relentless bombing since the end of February.
A post featuring images of Stepan looking scared in his travel bag and on a train was accompanied by a long caption detailing the gruelling journey from Ukraine.
‘On February 24, early in the morning, we were sleeping at home. At 5 am, some explosion was heard, and I didn’t even understand what it was,’ she said.
After a while, after half an hour later, there were more explosions, the windows trembled. I jumped up and understood that something terrible was happening!
‘The attack and shelling of Kharkiv (especially on the North Saltovka where we live). We realized that the war had come to our house.
The post added that neighbouring homes were being struck by shells daily, and while their own building remained intact for a week, on the eight day, it was damaged after a shell hit their neighbours’ balcony.
In a lengthy Instagram caption, Anna revealed that ‘the war had come to [their] house’, and she had to flee along with Stepan
It said: ‘There was no fire. Thank God! In two or three dozen apartments, all the windows spilled out. Also, two shells fell in our yard in front of the house.
‘We spent two nights in the basement and without electricity for a week. We had to go to the nearby basement to charge the phone. Then we managed to leave the city. Kharkiv volunteers helped by taking us to the railway station.
‘We got on the train Kharkiv – Lviv (in 20 hours, we got to Lviv). Then we followed to the border with Poland. At the border, we stood in a line in a pedestrian crossing. There were a lot of people (4-5 thousand). After 9 hours, we crossed the border.
‘When we reached Poland, we were offered help from the World Influencers and Bloggers Association from Monaco.
The post, which received almost half a million likes, garnered numerous comments from concerned fans.