Dear World: Meet Rudy

Just about everything is perfect about our lives in Kyiv

Cory’s job is fabulous. We’ve made some good friends. The cost of living is incredibly low, and the city’s culture is amazing. We’re living in seasons again for the first time in years. And even though learning Russian is tough, we’re getting by.

The one thing that has definitely been missing in our lives, however, is the fact our pets aren’t with us. As you may know, our cats, Abby and Toby, were ready for take-off from Minneapolis when we were, but they were turned away at the ticketing counter for some strange inconsistency in their paperwork.

We panicked, desperately brainstorming our options: Should I fix the paperwork and fly in a few days later? Should we try to go back in October to pick them up? How about over the holiday break?

Many of Cory’s colleagues have flown with their pets into Ukraine with hardly a border patrol blinking an eye, but this little-known nugget of needed information tucked into some little-known airline portal messed up our plans to live as a family in Kyiv big time. But before my visa paperwork was even cleared and October break arrived, our baby girl, Abby, passed away.

Our lives in Kyiv have been almost full, but there’s no question it has had a pet-sized hole. 

Just a couple days before leaving for Spain for the winter holidays, a new critter crept into our lives. Walking home from the subway stop late at night after the opera let out, we heard a pathetic cry near a dark apartment building. It was nearly 10:00 p.m., and the temperature had dropped far below freezing.

Cory, ever vigilant for an animal in need, investigated. A kitten sat on a manhole cover, attempting to warm up even as it shivered violently.

What kind of human leaves a critter in such a vulnerable situation? Not Cory and me, of course. We wrapped the little guy up in a scarf and brought him home, where he spent his first night indoors cuddled up and purring on a fuzzy blanket.

We attempted to find him a home with someone – anyone – at Cory’s school, but to no avail. Like us, everyone was heading out of town and no one wanted to take on the responsibility of a cat at such an inconvenient time. Luckily we have fab friends (thanks A and R!) who let him spend the three-week holiday with their cats while everyone was out of town.

Once we returned in January, we adopted him into our family for good. I was surprised to realize how much a pet makes our home actually feel like home. It’s been a great change to our lives here.

So, dear world, meet Rudy.

rescue cat

He had his first vet appointment yesterday. He’s about three or four months old and super healthy, happy and warm. Our little rescue cat loves to hug and watch the birds outside the window, and he is wonderful (if distracting) company while I work.

Rudy looks a lot like Toby, and he has the same mischievous manner as his big brother. I’m hopeful that Toby will still be healthy enough to come home with us this summer and he can watch birds out the window with Rudy. (The bird-watching really is pretty good from seven stories up!)

rescue cat

Abby can never be replaced, and it’s still hard for us that Toby is so far away (despite being in excellent hands). But even though he’s still quite small, Rudy has done a stellar job at filling that pet-sized hole we’ve had in our lives.

4 Responses to “Dear World: Meet Rudy”

  1. Candice Walsh

    Oh, LOVE!!! Rescue stories always make me tearful. He looks like a sweetie.

    And I’m sorry about Abby. Will you still be bringing Toby to the Ukraine?

    • JoAnna

      Right now, we are fully intending to bring Toby to Ukraine when we return to the U.S. this summer. However, he is old (12 years), has had asthma for a number of years and is potentially starting to develop a thyroid condition. This last thing is new since we left him in the U.S. in August, so we’re going to have a long talk with his vet this summer to find out if he can safely travel with us, or if it is best for him to live the rest of his life with my parents. I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to join us, but I’m also rational and understand that he may not be able to.

  2. Jill

    He’s adorable (of course!). You & Cory have a real talent for finding critters in need…they have all been incredibly lucky! ❤🐱❤

    • JoAnna

      We’re so fortunate he’s in our lives. There are so many animals in this world in need of love and care, I can’t imagine not having one in my life.


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