Ivan the Stowaway? Mystery of Russian cat Found in England

Credit: Cats Protection
Credit: Cats Protection

Meet “Ivan”… at least that’s what charity workers are calling this enigmatic feline visitor. The Russian cat, a 3 year old brown longhair with orange eyes, is spending his nine lives relaxing on the Isle of Wight. But he wasn’t always so comfortable.

The furry friend was originally found in the UK port city of Southampton. He’s believed to have been wandering the streets for 6 months! Taken in by a local Netley couple, Ivan probably appreciated their gesture of hospitality. Unfortunately the other cats of the household didn’t, so he had to move on.

Ivan’s next port of call was Cats Protection on the Isle of Wight. A standard microchip check revealed the animal’s Russian origins. The lack of an address means the quirky moggy is stuck in quarantine till his rightful owners can be found.

Ivan made a 2,000 mile trip to reach British shores, but how? As the Daily Mail puts it, the situation is “a mystery worthy of (late) espionage novelist John Le Carre”. Talk about the Stray Who Came In From The Cold.


3 branches of the charity are collaborating to crack the case. Though actually the truth may not be elusive. The working theory is Ivan was brought over by a relocating cat lover, possibly a family. Pets have a habit of going AWOL in a new environment. Failing that, he probably caught an unexpected ride on a boat.

Quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, Adoption Centre Manager Mel Read describes Ivan as a “very friendly” guest. Despite being kept in and receiving treatment such as a rabies shot, his spirits appear high.

He hasn’t said much in the way of fishy-breathed conversation though. The Mail speaks to 72 year old volunteer Tony Coster, who comments: “perhaps he meows with a Russian accent so English cats won’t understand him”.

Strange as that may seem, the idea of distinctive cat calls is rooted in science. In 2016 the media met Suzanne Schötz, a Swedish phoneticist from Lund University. She set out to explore whether felines took on accents.
Four years later the results are… on paws? The project, called “Melody in human-cat communication”, lasts half a decade and is due to complete next year according to a post on the Lund University website.

Schötz is using “phonetic analysis” to study catty remarks from both Lund and Stockholm. Human and cat speech will be examined and compared to produce a (hopefully) definitive answer on how the species interact and affect each other. The findings could have “profound implications” the University writes.

Could Ivan the Russian cat pick up some vocal tendencies from his temporary home on the Isle of Wight? Whether the new research proves useful or not, this is one unusual situation.

For Cats Protection and Mel Read, it’s highlighted the need for owners to get their claws into pet security. Ivan is chipped but the implant isn’t up to date. “Other than the five months or more that he was living rough in Southampton, we know nothing more about him” Read tells ITV News.

Cats are everywhere in popular culture, from ‘Captain Marvel’ scene stealer Goose to the exploits of real life kitty and street cat Bob (who sadly passed away in June). Even after litter box ready stinkers like ‘Cats’ the movie, the fascination with furballs will no doubt continue.

Another Article From Us: Chief Mouse Catcher at Southwark Cathedral, Doorkins Magnificat Laid to Rest

Plus, Ivan isn’t the only story in town. This week the Basingstoke Gazette reported on photographer Anna Mikulich, who decided give the planet a lift by posting images of her kitten Finn in a specially-constructed mini-bedroom. It may not have the edginess of Ivan’s exploits but this pussy’s poses have been grabbing some attention. Mee-ow indeed…!


jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival