It’s a mystery worthy of espionage novelist John Le Carre – a Russian found wandering the streets of an English port with an implanted microchip who refuses to give up his secrets.
But this unexplained arrival detained in Southampton is a cat – thought to have been living wild in the city for more than six months, 2,000 miles from his homeland.
Rescuers say the long-haired feline – given the temporary name of Ivan – may have made the incredible journey on his own as a stowaway in a lorry or in a container on a ship.
Now the charity Cats Protection is making a public appeal in case he is missing from the home of a family who have recently moved to Britain and can be reunited in time for Christmas.
Rescuers say the long-haired feline – given the temporary name of Ivan (pictured) – may have made the journey from Russia to Southampton on his own as a stowaway in a lorry or in a container on a ship
A couple from the Netley area of Southampton found Ivan – thought to be three years old – in October near their home and sheltered him from the freezing weather.
But they had to call in Cats Protection when their own cats became ‘fearful’ of the foreign interloper.
The charity’s staff discovered Ivan had been implanted with a microchip that showed he had travelled from Russia, but the device did not give an exact address.
The cat was transferred to the charity’s adoption centre on the Isle of Wight, where he is being quarantined.
Ivan is thought to have been living wild in Southampton for more than six months, 2,000 miles from his homeland. His rescuers think he may have made the journey in a container on a ship (shipping containers in Southampton, pictured)
Volunteer Tony Coster, 72, said: ‘He really is a lovely cat. He has those beautiful orange eyes and fluffy brown fur, which maybe keeps him warm during the Siberian winters. We haven’t really heard him meow, but perhaps he meows with a Russian accent so English cats won’t understand him.’
Sarah Elliott, veterinary officer at Cats Protection, said animals from overseas have been known to arrive as stowaways but there is often a more mundane reason behind foreign strays.
‘The most likely reason that cats come into our care with foreign microchips is that people have emigrated with their cats to the UK, and once they get here the cat strays from home,’ she said.