Big break: Russians search for cat who sneaked $1,000 feast at seafood shop
The four-legged seafood lover – who ate and nibbled on squid, flatfish, and octopus from the shop counter under the cover of night – has quickly rose to stardom, as his crime has been making headlines for two straight days.
— Владивосток YouTube (@vladivostokyout) December 12, 2014
Record-low oil prices and the plunging Russian ruble were out-shadowed by the ginger thief, who dominated the news reports among Russia's online media services. But now the story has taken a dramatic turn – the cat is no where to be found.
A police check has been launched at the airport in Russia's Far East, with the feline announced missing, TASS news agency reported. The seafood store's owners blame the airport for the loss of goods worth 63,000 rubles (over $1,100), as they had to write off the entire fish counter that the cat had laid its paws on, due to health and safety regulations.
"The cat has disappeared. He was here yesterday, and today he's not here any more. 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," a source told TASS, suggesting the cat could have been left behind at the airport by a passenger who didn't want to pay the extra fee for pet transportation.
The airport's press service previously stated that the presence of any unsupervised animals in the terminal is strictly prohibited due to security regulations, and blames the shop for the stray cat's intrusion.
— ФедералПресс (@FederalPress) December 12, 2014
People across Russia – and even beyond – have become worried about the tomcat's fate. Some have added fuel to the fire, claiming the cat was killed by the shop owners, while others believe his death could be impending if he's not found by well-wishers first. Vladivostok locals have launched their own investigation on social media, in order to find and save the feline.
The airport has been bombarded with requests to find the animal, local PrimaMedia reported, while the seafood shop has become an attraction for both travelers and locals.
"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," shop owner Irina Kuzmina told PrimaMedia, adding that she has also been receiving international calls regarding the store's furry visitor.
Some have been worried about the cat's health – as he's eaten a lot of dried, salty fish – but experts say the animal should be fine, and could have helped himself to some water, Dvtur reported.
— Турпортал ДВ-Тур (@DvturRu) December 11, 2014
Both local and social media have been choosing names for the seafood lover, with some suggesting he be called Hooligarch or Inflatio. The cat was pronounced a hero and promised party membership on St.Petersburg's Onion-like “communist” website.
"This cat is Robin Hood or Che Guevara," the site quoted its fake party head as saying, adding that the feline simply brought revenge upon "bourgeois and foreigners" who could afford buying goods at the seafood store, unlike "workfolk."
The now famous ginger thief was also promised permanent employment by Russia's well-known cat tamer, Yury Kuklachyov. The founder of Moscow's Cat Theater was not joking when he said he was eager to pay for the damage the hungry feline cost the shop, and feature him in one of the theater's performances.
Cat lovers on Facebook have gone even further, suggesting that a monument be erected in honor of the feline at Vladivostok airport, which would become a symbol of "optimism and appetites" for Russians.