My grandmother always said that she and my mother, and I, her daughter, survived the severe blockade [note: this was the seige of Leningrad] and hunger only thanks to our cat Vaska. If it were not for this red-headed bully, my daughter and I would have died of hunger like many others.
Every day Vaska went hunting and and my grandmother made stew from what he dragged back.
At the same time, the cat always sat nearby and waited for food, and at night all three of us lay under one blanket and he warmed us.
He felt the bombing much earlier than the air raid was announced, began to spin and meow plaintively, my grandmother managed to collect things, water, mother, cat and run out of the house. When they fled to the shelter, as a family member, they dragged him with them and watched him not to be taken away and eaten.
The hunger was terrible. Vaska was hungry as everyone else and skinny. All winter until spring, my grandmother collected crumbs for the birds, and from spring they went hunting with the cat. Grandmother poured crumbs and sat with Vaska in ambush, his jump was always surprisingly accurate and fast. Vaska was starving with us and he didn’t have enough strength to keep the bird. He grabbed a bird, and grandmother ran out of the bushes and helped him. So from spring to autumn, they also ate birds.
When the blockade was lifted and more food appeared, and even after the war, my grandmother always gave the cat the best piece. She stroked him affectionately, saying – you are our breadwinner.
Vaska died in 1949, my grandmother buried him in the cemetery and, so that the grave would not be trampled, put a cross and wrote Vasily Bugrov. Then my mother put my grandmother next to the cat, and then I buried my mother there too. So all three lie behind the same fence, as they once did in the war under one blanket.”