Ukrainian Man & His Cat Survive Russian Blast, But Their Family Did Not

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on March 16, 2022

When Russia invaded Ukraine, 54-year-old Ihor Mazhayev and his family fled Kyiv to shelter in their hometown of Markhalivka. Still, a Russian strike on the city took everything from Ihor, except his beloved cat.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has been sharing the tales of its citizens, telling the world of the brutality and heartbreak that has ravaged the everyday people who just a few weeks ago were living normal lives. Ihor’s story is one of them.

Return to Rubble & One Bright Spot

The savage Russian shelling of Markhalivka, a city located outside Kyiv, killed all of Ihor’s family and destroyed their home. An Instagram post from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine explained Ihor “lost his wife, his daughter, his two sons-in-law, and his mother-in-law to the violence.”

CNN reported Ihor’s daughter was just 12-years-old and used a wheelchair because of disabilities.

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Returning to the rubble of his home, Ihor stood amongst the ashes of his life but managed to find one bright spot still alive…his beloved cat, Marsik. The Ministry shared photos of Ihor standing in the wreckage, as well as the heartwrenching shot of Ihor and Marsik covered in dust, clinging to each other.

Like many Ukrainians, Ihor and cat Marsik are still in danger as they try to move forward without their family.

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A post shared by Ukraine UA (

Sharing Images and Tales of War

On their social media accounts, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to share images of destruction. Alongside the grim truths, the Ministry also shares moments of hope, humanity, and the fierce spirit of Ukraine’s citizens.

Here, a soldier is “staying human” by wearing a smile and petting a cat…

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In a gallery of Ukrainians fleeing the country, cats are carried to safety as these families would never dream of leaving them behind.

Follow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on Twitter and Instagram to learn more. 

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