Homeward Bound: A Homeless Ukrainian Kitten’s Incredible Journey

A pair of male hands hold a black kitten, as the animal looks outside through a train's window.

As the golden leaves of autumn danced from the branches above, a man walked past us, a black kitten in his hands. Since there was an open-air pet market selling puppies in vintage playpens and kittens in birdcages just around the corner, we thought the man had just purchased a kitten. I had cheery visions of him perhaps taking it home to a jubilant family.

Instead, he walked behind a set of steel-grey dumpsters and dropped the kitten into a pile of mixed leaves and trash. Stone-faced, he then walked briskly past us, keeping his gaze forward and careful not to make eye contact with us.

My husband, Shawn, and I were speechless. Over several years of travel in many corners of the world, to include our home country, the United States, we’d likely seen hundreds, if not thousands of homeless pets on the streets. However, we’d never before seen one disposed of right in front of us.

Within seconds, the man had turned a corner and was gone.

Travel is a master at presenting the beautiful and tragic elements of life in a concentrated fashion, providing lessons at a pace that gets more hurried as you move from one new place to another. However, this particular moment was especially harsh. It reminded us of the fragility of life. But it also reinforced the idea that instead of deferring travel to places where injustices occur, instead of thinking that any act of goodwill is too insignificant, we can all do something – ever small – to make a difference.

As the kitten cried, Shawn walked over and picked it up. A woman who was working at the animal market nearby approached us a moment later and tried to dissuade us from taking the kitten. Cobbling together German and Ukrainian words, we understood her to say, “Not good. No home. Leave it there.” There was no confrontation. We waited until she walked away.

As nomads who have by choice been without a home base these past three years, we knew we were in no position to become pet parents to the little one. But, we also couldn’t leave the kitten near this marketplace in Lviv, Ukraine – a gorgeous city known for its UNESCO World Heritage architecture, chocolateries, and coffeehouses harking back to the days when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

With the confused and scared kitten in our arms, we walked home toward our temporary apartment and stopped to ask a couple where a pet shop might be. When I explained the situation, the young man said, “I know it’s very sad, but it’s normal here to see animals on the street. You must just walk by.”

In the subsequent ten days, there would be many positive developments in the kitten’s life. We carted him around to two wonderful veterinarians, doing our best to make our way on an unfamiliar city’s streets while deciphering signs bearing the Cyrillic alphabet. Via social media, we were fortunate to have connected with two hard-working and dedicated Ukrainian animal-welfare advocates who helped us virtually translate the kitten’s medical records.

The kitten was given a Ukrainian pet passport, initial vaccinations, flea and de-worming treatment, and a microchip. We learned that he was about six weeks old, and we named him Cocoa, inspired by his hometown’s centuries-old love affair with chocolate and coffee.

As we navigated the Ukrainian veterinary system, there were a few moments when I felt a tear of happiness about to emerge. When the first veterinarian rubbed a cotton swab of flea removal medicine on Cocoa’s spine, visions of flea-infested animals in Bali, Montenegro, and Greece came to mind. I silently accepted that although we couldn’t help them all, Cocoa would be flea free. I also smiled when he was issued his green Ukrainian pet passport. Cocoa would not be just another anonymous street kitten (if indeed he’d even survived his first night on the street), rather he was documented and official.

When we ferried Cocoa around from appointment to appointment in a navy-blue cosmetics case that we dubbed the ‘Cocoa Mobile’, people couldn’t help but fall for his baby-blue eyes, which sometimes looked emerald green, reminiscent of photographer Steve McCurry’s famous 1984 image of the Afghan Girl. We told them all of his humble beginnings, and they smiled.

Learning that the animal welfare situation is dire in Ukraine, and that there are but a few shelters in the country to care for street animals, we made the decision to take Cocoa back with us to Germany. Our reasons for doing so were varied. We didn’t want to overburden the Ukrainian system further, we questioned if he’d ever be adopted, and we were optimistic that if we contacted enough friends and family in Germany and beyond that we could find Cocoa a loving home.

Little Cocoa grew bigger by the day on a diet of tuna and soon bid farewell to his hometown of Lviv, embarking on a grand tour of Europe that took us over 1,000 km. (600 miles) through Old-World cities like Krakow, Prague, Plzen, and finally Munich. With the ever-evolving landscapes, the word for tuna changed too –  тунець (tunetsu), tuńczyk, tuňák, Thunfisch.

During our 24 hours of overland travel together on buses, streetcars, taxis, and trams, Cocoa would peek out of our hands, eliciting warm smiles from travelers. When he ‘broke wind’ or meowed, we apologized profusely to fellow passengers. Even the sternest of them smiled in reply. After an especially powerful toot, one passenger said with a grin, “C’est la vie — that’s life!”

Now safe in Germany, Cocoa looks out the window and invariably wonders why his house isn’t moving. We’re hoping that he doesn’t have to move much farther to find a good home.

Cocoa has taught us much about life. He may be just one little life to have saved on this great international journey of ours, and I wish we could’ve helped more of the animals along the way, but then I remember a lovely quote by South African social rights activist, Desmond Tutu:

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Desmond tutu

If you know of a loving family that’s looking for a playful, sociable, and energetic kitten that’s as well-travelled as Cocoa, please spread the word.

Lviv Ukraine Skyline
Beautiful Lviv, Ukraine – where Cocoa’s story began.
Ukrainian Kitten Cocoa

Lviv Opera Ukraine
For centuries, Lviv has been known for its culture. Here is the ornate Lviv Theater of Opera and Ballet.
Lviv Wedding Ukraine

lviv coffee house chocolaterie
As with many Old World cities that were once part of the Habsburg Empire, Lviv is known for its bustling cafés and chocolateries. This combination would inspire the kitten’s name – Cocoa.
Krakivsky Market Lviv Ukraine
The Krakivsky Market in the city of Lviv. A Jewish cemetery that was once the final resting place of 30,000 was previously here. During WWII the Nazis destroyed the cemetery, and in Soviet times, the area was paved over with concrete, creating this open-air market where clothes, housewares, and even pet animals are sold. We found Cocoa the kitten just on the market’s outskirts.
animal pet market Ukraine
An open-air pet market: puppies in vintage playpens and kittens in birdcages.
Market Lviv ukraine
Traditional Ukrainian blouses for sale at the market, and a tree bearing mistletoe plants.
Lviv Ukraine Old Jewish Hospital
The Moorish dome of the former Jewish hospital in Lviv, located at at 6 Rappoporta Street. We saw Cocoa being dumped behind this building.
Lviv Ukraine Jewish Cemetery Headstone fragment
The fragments of a headstone in Lviv’s Jewish cemetery, which dates back hundreds of years.
Lviv Ukraine Jewish Cemetery Headstone fragments
A pile of broken headstones from the cemetery.
Lviv Ukraine Jewish Cemetery Hospital

Cocoa Rescued Street Kitten
Cocoa, just seconds after the man dropped him behind dumpsters.
kitten thrown by dumpsters
The dumpsters behind which Cocoa was dropped.
Cocoa at Veterinarian in Ukraine
Our first veterinarian. We didn’t speak any common language, but we scribbled out phrases and questions in a notebook in Ukrainian prior to our visit to ensure Cocoa got his necessary treatment.
Cocoa Kitten
Cocoa plays hide & seek two days after we found him.
Ukrainian Street Kitten Sleeping
Cocoa being deceptively placid; on the contrary, he’s an energetic fellow!
Ukrainian Veterinarian Visit
Cocoa, just after he was microchipped, with a kind veterinarian and an animal clinic staff member.
Ukraine Pet Passport
In many European countries, pets are issued passports to facilitate travel across borders. Here, Cocoa checks out his new Ukrainian passport.
Ukrainian Kitten Lviv

Kitten Tuna Ukraine
We quickly learned the Ukrainian word for tuna – тунець, or tunetsu.
Lviv Ukraine traditional dress
Moments before we saw Cocoa being dropped on the street, we chanced upon this Ukrainian folk festival at Lviv’s university.
Red Cat Lviv
A cat-inspired café in Lviv’s Old Town.
Ukraininan Kitten on Train
Cocoa plays on Shawn’s lap during one of the legs of our train and bus journey. In all, we’d travel 1,000 km. (about 600 miles) overland.
Krakow Poland
First stop: Krakow, Poland.
Czech Polish Border
Crossing the border into the Czech Republic, and mums to usher in autumn.
European countryside from train window
The verdant countryside of the Czech Republic.
Ukrainian Kitten Riding Train to Germany

German countryside from train window
The train crosses the border into neighboring Germany.
Ukrainian Kitten Waiting for Adoption
Cocoa and his stunning green eyes.

Where in the World?

How to Help

I asked Natalie, an animal-welfare advocate in Ukraine, how individuals can help the country’s animals, should they wish to donate. She suggested working through Naturewatch or Arche Noah (Switzerland).

Of course, you can also donate to your preferred animal charity.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.


11/16/2014 UPDATE: Cocoa has been adopted by a loving family in Switzerland. Please read the news of the happy ending here.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

59 thoughts on “Homeward Bound: A Homeless Ukrainian Kitten’s Incredible Journey

    1. Hello Robin, glad you enjoyed Cocoa’s story. We’re eager to see how the next chapter develops. As much as we’d love to be his permanent family, we’re too nomadic at the moment to be good pet parents. This is where we’re hoping word of mouth marketing will find him a superb home. I don’t know though – he does seem to have a nomadic spirit too!

  1. You may have just added to your family – permanently! These little furry creatures grab your heart and it is hard to let go. Bravo for rescuing the sweet kitten. It was meant to be. XX Virginia

    1. Virginia, I do agree that we were in the right place at the right time. :) Knowing that the temperatures in the Ukraine are now -2 degrees Celsius, I’m relieved little Cocoa is in a warm, loving place, and on his way to finding a superb forever family. Must run – he’s making mischief as I type!

    1. Aren’t his eyes a stunning color? I didn’t include the most recent pictures of him with his Halloween look – cobwebs on his head and paws from exploring nooks and crannies that we can’t reach and are trying desperately to block off. :)

      It’s our honor to be Cocoa’s “foster parents.” Thank you for your kind words and support, Melinda.

    1. Glad you enjoyed Cocoa’s story, A Glass Half Full. Cocoa has indeed given us many smiles and lighthearted moments. I’m glad that our paths crossed, and it makes me happy to think of the happiness he’ll bring others once we find him a forever home.

      Thank you for your comment, and wishing you a wonderful start to the new week.

  2. Tricia, I am so glad to hear that he made it to Garmisch , what a trip for all three of you. I am so sure that he will find a loving home, you both are amazing having saved his precious soul. Keep us updated on his journey. I did ask my family in Garmisch to adopt him, but as I already knew since they already have a cat and my cousin taking care of my frail 102 year old aunt, that it would be nor the right time for her. AS Virginia already said it was all meant to be.

    1. Greetings Cornelia, thank you for your thoughtful words and for your efforts in seeking out a home for Cocoa in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area. I’m most appreciative that you took the time to look out for the little guy and can understand why the timing is not right for your family members. After 1,000 km. of travel with Cocoa, I was so happy to reach the finish line of sorts, knowing we had gotten there when we saw Germany’s beautiful mountains.

      I’m certain Cocoa will find a spectacular home here in Germany. Fingers crossed – ich drücke die Daumen. :) Thank you again for your assistance.

  3. Coco is so lucky that you saved him. I’m sure you will find him a good home soon. We just lost our Monkey cat. But we are moving to Spain soon so we will not be looking for a replacement for awhile.

    1. Darlene, oh, I’m sorry to hear that you recently lost a cherished pet. Though I grew up with dogs and not cats, I can understand how animals become junior members of the family.

      On a more upbeat note, how exciting that you’re moving across the Atlantic! To what part of Spain will you be relocating?

  4. Dear Tricia… what you and your huband did, it’s just an act of love. The purest one. We lost our little Ebano on september 17th… she was black too, alike Cocoa. We have five cats now, I wish I could give a try to take her with us… I have to convince my husband. I do belive she could be happy with us since I understand that you can’t keep her because of your traveling around.
    Right now it’s difficoult for me to reach you in Germany, but why don’t you take the chance to come her to southern Switzerland? Quite long time ago I offered you to visit us… if you didn’t forget… Your last e-mail was on September 2013. Please, let me know…
    Kisses to the tree of you :-)claudine

    1. Greetings Claudine. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your cat, Ebano. Certainly, she’s greatly missed by your family and her former feline companions. They sound like quite a loved family of cats!

      How kind of you to offer for us to visit you in Switzerland, and I’m happy to hear of your interest in the kitten. Regarding Cocoa, we have a friend of a friend of a friend in München that expressed interest in the cat. It’s not 100% confirmed, though, so in the event the matchmaking doesn’t work, we’ll let you know. The woman would like to adopt the kitten to be a companion for her other cat.

      Either way, I do hope we’ll have the chance to meet up someday soon. I’ll touch base with you by email, hopefully later today. Cocoa’s kept our hands full (I know you can relate as a parent), and we’ve also been trying to get all the necessities to settle in to Bavaria after having been away for 4 months. :) Thank you once again for your openness to welcome Cocoa into your family.

      1. So, we cross our fingers :-) said selfishly… I think for me and my daughter Sara Lunawas was love at first sight looking at the pictures that you put into your blog…
        If these friends of friends can not take him, then our home-door is open for the kitten!
        Really, time has passed quickly, and I am sure that we will meet!
        Even with Marina of Athens (known on the blog), unexpectedly we met last July… it’s always something so special that it remain in your heart… See you soon, dear Tricia, a hug :-)claudine and family

      2. Claudine, yes, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since we’ve first met here! Switzerland is not far away, though, and given our shared love of globetrotting, I suspect our paths will cross soon.

        Thank you for your kind message and for putting the welcome mat out for Cocoa, so to speak. He’s napping atop my lap as I type and eager to find his forever home. Please be on the lookout for my email message!

  5. D’AWWWwwwww! In the D-land, I’ve friends who’ve recently lost cats (old age). I’ll pass along the message that Cocoa the Cute is available for adoption into a warm and loving home.

    1. Hi Henry, really appreciate that offer to help – the blogging community is fantastic in the way that it’s offered to spread the word about Cocoa. As you now know, it sounds like Cocoa might have a loving prospective home in München. Another reader from Switzerland even expressed interest in him. I’ll keep you posted either way.

      Thank you once again. Cocoa’s waving his paw at you too. :)

    1. Gerard, a happy ending to a tale that started out in a very sad fashion. I’m glad Shawn and I were there at at the right place and time to whisk Cocoa away to a new life.

      Do you have any pets? I must confess that kitten parenthood is very new to me, as I always grew up with dogs. This little guy has so much energy!

      1. I’ve always had dogs and cats. I like animals. I have three sisters. They have pets too. One of my sisters is very involved with an organization that rescues cats and finds homes for them. The other two also like to help homeless dogs and cats.

        Kittens are easy to house train. When Cocoa looks like he needs to relieve himself show him the cat box. Once is usually enough. You’ll need to take him to a vet for his shots. It’s like having a child.

        Kittens can be very mischievous. They sometimes climb on curtains. When they’re teething they chew a lot of things. Cats of all ages scratch furniture. If you get a scratch post it will probably never be used.

        Cats are great for rodent control. You probably won’t need any mouse traps. Most cats really go after them while some cats are lazy.

        Cats are easier to care for than dogs. Dogs need a lot more attention from their owners than cats do.

        Good luck with Cocoa.

      2. Gerard, ah, thank you for the sharing your animal wisdom! I had to smile when you mentioned that cats chew, and climb, and will probably never use a scratch post. We’re trying hard to train Cocoa not to nibble on our hands. We just got him a mouse toy and he absolutely loves chasing it!

        It’s wonderful that your sisters are so devoted to helping the world’s sometimes-forgotten animals. Each life treated with respect makes a great difference.

        I raised a puppy back in 2008 (then my parents adopted her – she’s so spoiled now!) and agree that puppies do seem to need more attention than kittens. My little dog, Gigi, did not like being left alone – even for a few minutes. I hired an animal trainer to advise, sent her to doggy day-care when I was at work, and she still was upset not having a full-time companion. I’m glad my parents stepped in and spoiled her and now I could never take her away from them. Fortunately, I still get to see her regularly.

    1. Hi Jo, I wish my parents could offer him a home, but my mother’s allergic to cats. Nevertheless, I think we might have good news in that a friend of a friend of a friend has expressed interest in him. If it works out, he’ll be living in Munich, with a feline brother or sister. Lucky little kitty.

      Thanks for your willingness to tweet. It’s touching when a community comes together like that! :)

    1. Bespoke Traveler, it’s funny that you’d ask how it was traveling with him. Most of the time, he was the epitome of an experienced traveler. He sat calmly on our laps and watched the world go by outside the train windows. We’d visited two Ukrainian veterinarians to get his initial shots, Ukrainian pet passport, and Health Certificate allowing him to travel. We had to cross three international borders, but once we made it into the Schengen Zone (in our case, Poland), the crossings were pretty seamless.

      We did our best to break up the 1,000 km. journey by stopping in various big cities along the way. Fortunately, neighbors were patient when he feasted on tuna, or tried to beg for cheese.

      On the last leg of the trip, however, things started getting more challenging. When we were just minutes from my parents’ home in Bavaria, Cocoa relieved himself on Shawn’s lap. Fortunately we didn’t have far to go then!

  6. You’ve broken my heart. Honestly.

    Cocoa is the spitting image of our very own kitten, Luce, who we helped to rescue last summer in Franca’s hometown, also left on a dumpster. Fast forward a year and she’s just had her first kittens and lives with Franca’s parents.

    I love that the journey you’ve all had together and really wish we could nominate ourselves to home him, but unfortunately we’re in the same nomadic boat as you, without any idea when we’ll have a home next.

    1. Dale, hopefully Cocoa’s eminent happy ending (and Luce’s too) have helped mend your heart. :)

      Kudos to you and Franca for rescuing Luce; it’s refreshing to have stories like that to balance out the world’s sad headlines. Did Luce also start out with baby-blue eyes as Cocoa did? Our family friend told us that a kitten should never be taken from a mother cat when the eyes are still blue. Poor Cocoa.

      Knowing how nomadic you both are, I can imagine you’ve also witnessed much sadness on the streets. Isn’t it fun to think of someday adopting a dog or cat of our own once we’re all settled?

      Thanks for your comment and enjoy the day in … where are you now? :) Kitty’s kept me so occupied that I’ve had a hard time keeping up with friends in the blogosphere.

    2. Forgot to mention that, thanks to your recommendation, we almost tried out Bla Bla Car to get from Poland to the Czech Republic. Schedules and animal preferences never aligned, but appreciate you pointing us in that direction!

  7. i swear… you two and your adventures. i love this story and what you’ve done for this kitty. after all of your tremendous efforts and experiences together, i don’t know how you can leave that pretty boy to anyone else. xo

    1. Gretchen, happy to hear that Cocoa’s story resonated with you. :) Alas, while it’ll be bittersweet sending him on to a forever home, it’s best for the little one since we’re so nomadic. If I remember correctly, he resembles your family’s kitty too!

  8. Remarkable deed! Unfortunately, such problems of animals seems here, in our Ukraine, so insignificant in comparison with current situation. But I understand the main idea from this excellent quotation: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — this remark is to the point!

    BTW, “Ukraine” — is true, not “the Ukraine” :) The Germans still use it but the English-speaking world has largely stopped using it.

    Thank you for your kindness!
    Andrew, Odesa.
    Welcome to us too!)

    1. Greetings Andrew, and thank you for reaching out and for your thoughtful message. (дякую, right?) Indeed, when we were in Lviv, we visited the Lychakiv Cemetery and were saddened to see the graves of those lost in the current conflict. In their photos, they looked very young. So tragic. I do hope there will be peace in your country soon.

      I also appreciate you keeping me on my toes regarding how to refer to Ukraine. A few weeks ago, I actually googled why it is that some countries of the world are preceded with the article, ‘the.’ I must confess that I’m doing my best to write/say Ukraine without the ‘the’ but sometimes old habits are hard to overcome. You’re right that the Germans seem to use ‘the’ as well which makes things confusing as I talk in German here. :) The BBC article explains it all quite well.

      Prior to going to Lviv, we spent a month in Moldova. For several days we were right on the Ukrainian border, not far from Odesa. We heard that the architecture is very pretty in Odesa and that we must see the Potemkin Stairs. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to go but given the wonderful time we had in Lviv, I’d love to return to Ukraine someday soon.

  9. What a beautiful kitten and such a moving story. I have two cats of my own (both adopted from an animal shelter and both black and white, these and black cats seem to be the hardest to home for some reason) and can’t imagine being without them, they are such a big part of the family – I’m even writing this at a strange angle so my laptop doesn’t disturb the cat curled up into my side. So lucky that Cocoa had you there to look out for him and fingers crossed he finds his new home soon. I love the image of you travelling by train with a kitten too – my cats would be roaming the carriages trying to steal everyone’s picnic lunches!

    1. Lucy, your feline friends are lucky to have you, and while I grew up with dogs, not cats, I can relate to the feeling of remaining in a contorted, uncomfortable position, so that a canine companion would remain asleep and content. Lately, I’ve been hearing some odd statements about black cats being difficult to home; I suppose it’s a superstition of sorts?

      I also had to smile at your mention of your cats sniffing out the best lunches as the train glides through the countryside. Cocoa was pretty good about snuggling on our laps and watching out the train window, but he went crazy when we broke out our cheese, bread, and rice cakes! Casual passersby might have thought the little one hadn’t eaten for a week, even though he’d just devoured several helpings of tuna. Now that we’re in a less-nomadic environment, he’s taken quite well to his kitten chow, but I still detect a penchant for human food protein.

      What are your cats’ names? And, are there a fair amount of pets in UK shelters seeking homes? I’m curious because it seems to be a problem in so many countries (including the US, where I come from), but Germany, where I’ve lived many years, seems to have a good handle on domestic animal populations.

      1. I think you’re right, there’s some lingering superstition relating to black cats, that and they tend to get overlooked in favour of the more ‘interesting’ marking like tabbies or tortoiseshells. Our cats are called Max and Jasper, both were rehomed from a shelter near our home. Max is half Siamese so very chatty and affectionate (I’m writing this with him tucked underneath one arm) and Jasper is shy with strangers but very playful. There are quite a few cats needing homes here in the UK, particularly older cats as people tend to prefer to home kittens. I volunteered for the Best Friends shelter in Utah when I was in the US last spring and was really impressed by their set up – a huge site with 400+ cats but very well designed so they had plenty of stimulation and places to hide or play, and very well maintained too. It inspired us to rehome ours when we got home – having cats can be tough when you travel a lot but we are lucky enough to have friends nearby who will housesit and look after them for us.

      2. Lucy, how nice to hear that a well-run shelter that you observed on your travels actually provided the inspiration for you to welcome Max and Jasper into your lives! Someday, when we’re more settled, we’d love to get a pet, but as you said, it can be tough to travel with them.

        And a good-news update since our last comment correspondence: Cocoa is now living in Switzerland, with a lovely family that I actually met as a result of the blog. Such a happy ending for Cocoa, Max & Jasper.

  10. What a beautiful story, Tricia. Heartfelt and sincere concerns for this little kitty. I’m late in responding and I do hope by now you have found the perfect home for Cocoa. Lovely images of Ukraine and the countryside you traveled through.

    1. Lynne, Cocoa thanks you for your support. :) Tentatively, Cocoa has a wonderful home lined up – likely in Switzerland. What a lucky little guy to go from life on the streets to the Swiss Alps! He’s still with us now, running about with an energy level of which I’m envious.

      I do look forward to telling more tales from Ukraine – particularly from Cocoa’s stunning hometown, Lviv. As always, thanks for reading!

  11. Are you thinking of writing a series of adventure books for children? They love to read and reread books about animals especially cats and dogs. BOOK 1 Cocoa finds a home BOOK 2 Cocoa at the vets BOOK 3 Cocoa 1000 km train adventures BOOK 4 Cocoa’s favourite foods in ………. BOOK 5 Cocoa’s new home Thanks for sharing your exceptional photos and adventures.

    1. Lucille, funny you should mention that because a tale is in the works. :) (I was an elementary-school teacher for a short while, and have always wanted to write a book.)

      And, there is officially a happy ending now – Cocoa was adopted by a loving family in Switzerland and has now been living with them for one week. He’s such a lucky little one.

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your fun ideas. Did you by chance work as a teacher, or perhaps a librarian?

  12. Tricia, Cocoa’s story warmed my heart. So happy it ended well for him, all thanks to your – and Shawn’s – kindness and compassion. And how lovely that you got to meet Claudine in the bargain! :-)

    1. Madhu, it makes me happy knowing that Cocoa’s story was uplifting to you. He is extremely lucky to now make Switzerland his home, thanks to Claudine’s generosity. When Shawn and I saw him being discarded, Shawn mentioned “someday, he will bring his new owners much joy.” In the process, he’s also added a lot of happy hours to our lives, and now Claudine’s. :) Two years ago, when Claudine and I met via the blogging community, she mentioned that she thought fate would someday bring us together. Indeed, it did.

      Wish you a wonderful weekend ahead!

    1. Eden, his cute little face does have a way of making one forget all his mischief-making, which I hear he’s still doing in Switzerland. :)

      We all need to hear real, happy stories from time to time. Glad Cocoa’s resonated with you.

  13. Very much admire you two for this incredible act of human kindness ~ especially when faced with both your unsettling situation (nomads yourself) and the locals behaving the way they did (a trait that is seen around the world with people who just grow numb). You definitely have done the “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” An overwhelming post!

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful words, Randall. I agree with what you said about people around the world often “growing numb” when presented with the sad facets of life. As the Cocoa interaction reinforced with us, it definitely feels good not just being a bystander. Perhaps easier said than done all the time though! :) I wonder where the next Cocoa might cross our paths?

  14. I found your blog entirely by accident as I was searching for Bulgarian Lavender but then I saw this post and as we’re in the process of rescuing a Moroccan kitten, I had to read it. I’m so glad Cocoa has a happy ending! :)

    1. Emma, whether for Bulgarian lavender or kitten rescue inspiration, I’m glad you ended up here! Just the other night, my husband and I were laughing about the weeks we spent traveling with Cocoa. We can’t wait to meet up with him again.

      In which part of Morocco did you find your rescue? And, are you thinking of keeping the little one yourself, or finding a forever home for the cat? Either way, I wish you a pleasant journey together.

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