Remembering the participation of cats in the Great Patriotic War, first of all they talk about the tragedy of besieged Leningrad. It was here that cats proved to be invaluable helpers of people in the fight against a terrible scourge. But about everything - in more detail.
When a terrible famine began in the northern capital, blocked by Hitler's troops, the line of domestic animals followed the last remnants of food. They began to catch the dogs, then began to cats. In these terrible conditions, the inhabitants of Leningrad did not disdain even rats, mice, and sparrows. Known and cases of eating human meat.
It is clear that almost all Leningrad cats were eaten. The vast majority of dogs and cats in the city were eaten in the winter 1941-1942. Rarely any person in conditions of total hunger could find the strength to restrain himself and not eat his or, especially, someone else’s pet. But those cats who have not been eaten, died of hunger and disease. Stray, homeless cats disappeared from Leningrad streets. They were also hunted by the inhabitants of the city. Memories blockade tell us that all the urban cats and cats waited for a very unenviable fate. People who did not eat their pets were looked at with admiration - not everyone could resist the temptation to try meat in a situation where it was almost impossible to get even bread.
It is known that cats were eaten whole. Even the bones of animals went into the business - of them they cooked a special sticky mass, “carpenter's glue,” which was also used in writing, considering it to be a delicacy. Naturally, even if the owners were in no hurry to part with their pet, neighbors could easily steal it - and you can hardly reproach them for it.
According to common stories, the only "indigenous" Leningrad cat, who was lucky enough to survive the blockade, was the cat Maxim, who lived in the family of Volodins with the parrot Jacques. One day, Maxim the cat penetrated the cage to the parrot, but did not eat the bird, but lay down to sleep nearby, trying to warm up. I still couldn’t survive the harsh conditions of the blockade - he died, and Maxim the cat not only survived until the end of the blockade and before Victory, but lived for a very long time and died 12 years after the end of the war, in 1957 year. He was twenty years old - a very respectable age for a cat. Entire delegations of schoolchildren drove to see Maxim - everyone was interested to see a unique Leningrad cat who survived the terrible days of the blockade.
However, the disappearance of cats from Leningrad streets immediately gave rise to a terrible new problem - rats began to breed in the city. Having lost their natural enemies - street cats and dogs, the rats felt extremely at ease. Moreover, there was enough food for them - they were completely satisfied with the corpses of people who died or died of starvation and disease, and the rats did not disdain their own kindred - from other flocks, weakened, wounded or fallen. Rodents turned into another enemies of the besieged Leningrad, to cope with which was also very difficult, especially in the conditions of the blockade. Rats are very organized animals, with a developed hierarchy and thoughtful actions. Therefore, having bred in Leningrad, they turned into a real scourge of the city that had just survived the blockade.
Gradually, the streets of Leningrad turned into highways for the movement of gray tailed animals. The appearance of huge hordes of rats has created a serious threat to the already extremely tense epidemiological situation in the city. It is known that these rodents are carriers of the most dangerous diseases, especially in such conditions when people are exhausted by hunger, are ill, there are many corpses in the city. In addition, the hordes of rats began to penetrate the mill, where they ground the flour for the townspeople, into the storehouses of scarce food. These circumstances made the Leningrad leadership seriously think about what to do with the new scourge. All methods of dealing with the rats, which tried to try the city authorities did not help. And then, as the legend says that many generations of Leningraders retell, ... cats came to the rescue.
It is cats that are the most effective rat catcher in the history of nature and human societies. No wonder cats were idolized in ancient Egypt, where, as you know, the problem of protecting huge barns - granaries from rodents was very serious. If in the natural environment numerous wild animals stand up to rats - from snakes, large lizards, birds of prey to weasels, cats, canines, then in urban environments in rats there are two main enemies - cats and dogs, and cats are “interested” in rats incomparably more than dogs .
When the blockade of Leningrad was over, the city authorities faced the question of how to defeat the rats that bred in the city. His cats in the northern capital by this time was no longer there. Therefore, from Yaroslavl, where there was a particularly large population of smoky cats — excellent rat catchers, the Leningrad authorities decided to write out four cars of cats and cats. Of course, most likely the “four carriages of cats” is the most common urban legend, but the fact that cats were brought to the post-blockade Leningrad from Yaroslavl is absolutely true. The cats arrived from Yaroslavl, first of all, were distributed to the food warehouses of the city, and they began to distribute those who remained right on the platform to everyone - again, according to the urban legend. Some enterprising people immediately “sifted a chip,” as they would say today, and began selling cats and cats to other Leningraders — at very serious prices. Many bought, because after the war, when the situation with nutrition was relatively normal, the main goal was to get rid of rodents. Prices for cats rose to 500 rubles - this was very tangible money at that time. Nevertheless, there were many who wanted to buy a cat or a cat home. People gave the last, if only to get in their fluffy animal that can become a reliable protector from rodents. Many cats and cats brought to Leningrad died during the fight against rats, since the food warehouses of the city were really swarming with rodents and the cats could cope with them with difficulty.
Of course, the cats brought from Yaroslavl were not enough for the needs of huge Leningrad, which was completely deprived of its baleen and tailed rat catchers during the blockade. Therefore, the city authorities had to look for further ways to return to the city of cats. We paid attention to the cities of Siberia, which themselves were ready to help the northern capital in the fight against the consequences of the brutal blockade. Residents of Siberian cities collected cats to help Leningraders, many even sent their pets. For example, in one Tyumen, according to some data, up to 238 cats and cats were collected. Approximately the same numbers of animals were provided by other cities of Western and Eastern Siberia. So in Leningrad arrived another batch of excellent Pied Piper.
Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk cats started a service to protect the collections of the Hermitage and other Leningrad museums from rodents. In total, at least five thousand cats were delivered to Leningrad after the blockade was lifted. They immediately began to catch rats and soon the problem that the city authorities could not cope with, disappeared by itself. Until now, a large number of cats live in the Hermitage - the descendants of those post-war Siberian rat-catchers.
By the way, cats in the Hermitage appeared long before the war and even before the revolution. Even in the XIX century, cats were settled in the palace in order to fight rats and mice. By 1917, the Hermitage was home to 600 cats and cats. In many ways, it was thanks to their presence that they managed to preserve unique collections from mice and rats. Of course, in the most hungry days of the blockade of the Hermitage cats and cats they ate, but as soon as the blockade was broken, fluffy rat catchers again resumed their service in the Hermitage.
The fight against rats in Leningrad is not the only example of the participation of cats in the Great Patriotic War. Of course, representatives of the cat family were far from dogs, but there are still cases when cats brought great benefits during the war. Cats and cats often rescued their owners during aerial bombardments and shelling - and this was recorded in almost all the warring countries in the world. Due to their natural sensitivity, cats began to rush and meow long before the enemy airplanes flying up were reported by air defense sirens. Therefore, the owners very quickly learned that if the cat suddenly begins to show anxiety, it is better to immediately flee to the bomb shelter.
In one of the anti-aircraft artillery batteries of the Red Army a cat named Ryzhik appeared. He was picked up by the foreman of the battery in a devastated Belarusian village. The cat quickly became the darling of the battery - it reminded the fighters of a peaceful life, home comfort. But soon the cat began to be appreciated for other qualities. It turned out that it was right to be credited to the personnel of the battery as an excellent specialist in air defense. Even before the enemy raid aviation the cat began to growl and squint to the side where the enemy’s planes should have come from. The soldiers quickly noticed this and began to look closely at the behavior of the cat, which more than once predicted the appearance of enemy aircraft in the sky.
At the end of April 1945, the cat Ryzhik actually saved the life of a Soviet pilot. The battery is located on a halt, when everyone's favorite suddenly became accustomed to growl and look at the sky, and to the east, towards Moscow. The soldiers quickly brought the weapons on alert. And then came the Soviet aircraft, and after him - the German FW-190. The battery quickly struck from the guns - and the Nazi machine went into the ground, and the Soviet aircraft safely landed in the direction of the nearest air base. So the cat's instinct saved the pilot's life. By the way, the next day he appeared in the location of a battery with gifts - he brought alcohol, a cigarette case, expecting to reward the soldier or sergeant who saved his life. What was the surprise of the pilot when he was told the touching story of the cat Ryzhik. Of course, the cat did not need alcohol, but the next day the pilot again arrived at the subdivision - this time with two kilograms of liver, a favorite feline delicacy.
The history of the Great Patriotic War knows a lot of "soldiers' tales" about cats and cats. Most of them were based on really real events, which were then overgrown with all sorts of additions and speculation, passed from one person to another - and so turned into full-fledged legends, the truth - beautiful and motivating people for good deeds and respect for "smaller brothers".
It is known that in many warring armies, cats used to clean trenches and dugouts from rats and other rodents. Not only the blockade Leningrad was threatened with epidemics of terrible diseases spread by rats. Not less risked and part of the army. Therefore, cats, caught in the trenches of rats and mice, met quite often - on both sides of the front. The tradition to use cats in the trenches - to fight rodents, and then to warn about the gas attack, was laid down during the First World War in the units of the British army, but it was quickly adopted by the troops of other fighting nations. Therefore, in World War II, army units, "taking on the service" of cats and cats, were already walking along the beaten path before.
In modern armies and fleets Most of the world's cats serve as symbols and talismans of ships, units and units. Perhaps the leader in the number of animals - talismans (not only cats) is the British army, in which it is a long tradition. In the UK, cats are also "employed" in civilian government institutions - financial, diplomatic and other departments. Cats in the "positions" of mouse-catchers are even supplied with special bows as a special outfit. For example, in the 1970s - 1980s. Wilberforce the cat lived in London. Picked up at one time by a kitten on one of London's streets, by the will of fate, he ended up in the residence of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, where he lived for fifteen years, faithfully exterminating mice that attempted on the chambers of the head of the British government. During this time, four prime ministers of the country were replaced, but Wilberforce continued to serve as the chief government mouser until he died a natural death.