Leo the cat is asking Santa Paws for a special gift this year: He wants to go back home.
His caretaker, Elena Bridges, is a casualty of the ongoing economic woes here in the U.S. When she lost her house in the San Francisco Bay Area, she decided that the best option available to her was to move to her fianc’s home in Volgograd, Russia.
Bridges got tickets for all four of her cats to fly to Volgograd with her, but they needed veterinary clearance before they could board the flight. She was able to get her other cats crated and to the vet, but Leo hid so well that she couldn’t find him before the vet’s office closed.
“I thought of postponing our flight,” she wrote in an e-mail to me, “but the weather is getting colder and I knew the airline reserves the right to refuse animals when it’s extra cold. I had to go. If not, we would all be looking for a home. I’m so mad and hating myself, but I had to go.”
Fortunately for Leo, a kind neighbor is visiting Bridges’ former home and looking after him. But on Dec. 30, that place will become someone else’s and Leo will be homeless.
Bridges is planning to return to the U.S. in June for a short visit, and to bring Leo back home with her when she returns. Meanwhile, a small army of friends and Facebook fans is trying to get Leo a long-term foster home, a chaperone to fly with him to Volgograd, or, if nothing else, a loving home where he can live out the rest of his life.
Leo is a shy but friendly cat, according to Bridges. He’s healthy and neutered, and he’s been an indoor cat all his life. He’s good with other cats, and although he does tend to prefer the “top cat” role, he doesn’t fight in order to achieve that position.
In the best-case scenario, one way or another Bridges would be reunited with her beloved cat. But “if he falls in love with another, I don’t care, as long as he is loved and cared for,” she wrote. “I would just be happy to have him safe and loved.”
So what do you say? Can we help Leo get back to Russia and home with his mama and his kitty brothers? Check out Leo’s Facebook page or the Get Leo to Russia and reunite him with his family Facebook page for more information about what you can do to help.