First Eurovision, then the Paralympics and now… cat shows.
The International Feline Federation (FIFe), an international cat federation with members in some 40 countries, is banning Russian cats from its competitions for the next three months, joining the growing global reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Fife announced this week that he enact certain restrictions on cats bred in Russia and owned by exhibitors who live there, citing the mass destruction and civilian deaths caused by what he called Russia’s “unprecedented act of aggression” .
“The FIFe Board believes it cannot simply witness these atrocities and do nothing,” he added.
As of Tuesday, no cats bred in Russia can be imported and registered in a FIFe studbook outside of Russia, and no cats owned by exhibitors living in Russia can participate in FIFe shows outside the country.
The restrictions are valid until the end of May and will be reviewed if necessary, officials said.
The organization describes himself as “the United Nations Organization of Cat Federations”, representing over 100,000 individual members. It holds more than 700 shows a year exhibiting more than 200,000 cats, according to its website. FIFe officially has its headquarters in Luxembourg.
“The FIFe name is synonymous with quality and unity,” says one in a technical sheet. “He represents the interests of cats on a global scale.”
The officials said in their statement that its executive council was “shocked and horrified that the army of the Russian Federation invaded the Republic of Ukraine and started a war”.
“On top of that, our feline friends from Ukraine are desperately trying to take care of their cats and other animals in these difficult circumstances,” they added.
One million Ukrainians have fled for safety in the week since Russia invaded, and many have been photographed taking their cats and dogs with them.
Members of FIFe clubs in countries bordering Ukraine, including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova, are “reaching out to fellow Ukrainian breeders”, the statement continued.
FIFe is also stepping in, with its board deciding to dedicate part of its budget to supporting cat breeders and “enthusiasts” in Ukraine who are affected by the conflict. He said he would consult with his members in Ukraine and neighboring countries on how best to do this.
News of the temporary ban drew a mixed response.
Some social media users scoffed, while others applauded the act of solidarity, as the Washington Post reported. The announcement drew particular backlash in China, where Business Insider reports The hashtag “Russian cats are banned” went viral on Weibo on Wednesday, receiving some 118 million views in 24 hours.