An Instagram-famous cat from the Ukraine has scooped an honorary prize at the World Influencers and Bloggers Awards (WIBA) in Cannes.
Stepan, 13, who has 1.3 million followers on the platform, is best known for amusing photos featuring his signature grumpy poses, which are posted by his loving owner, Anna.
He’s also strutted the real-life catwalk, appearing in an advert for fashion label Valentino. In March, the pet was forced to escape war-torn Ukraine, finding safety and refuge in France, with the help of WIVA.
Since finding refuge, Stepan and Anna have raised more than £7,000 for charity in an effort to provide aid for animals affected by the war, with funds split between the charities Happy Paw, UAnimals, Mykolaiv Zoo, XII Months and Plyushka.
The charity endeavours have now seen the caring cat given an award by the WIBA, which turned its annual ceremony this year into a gala raising money for Ukraine.
Insta-cat! Stepan, 13, from Ukraine, has more than a million followers on Instagram: His owner, Anna, who was forced to flee her home country, has recently used the moggie’s profile to raise funds to help other displaced pets
After a tumultuous few months, Stepan was once more seen in a picture recently featuring one of his trademark casual poses, sitting next to a glass of wine and his WIBA award
Posting about the win on Instagram, Anna shared a picture of Stepan sitting in a trademark pose, with his furry elbow on a table, with a caption that said: ‘Celebrating the victory! Thank you all for your support!’
The pussy’s fans were delighted, not only by news of the victory, but also to see one of the cat’s traditional-style photos on his profile.
Among the comments on the photo, which garnered 283,000 likes, was one which said: ‘YAY! Stepan this is just like old times! I have missed that elbow on the table look.’
Another added: ‘Stepan is back to his old form!’
And a third agreed, writing: ‘STEPAN!! This warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I know your new norm is still painful but thank you for doing this pose for all of us.’
Thousands commented on an Instagram post shared by Anna and Stepan, which showed the celebrity moggy posing with his award
Stepan went viral earlier this year after his Instagram account went dark between March 3rd and 15th, prompting fans to worry that the cat and Anna may have been hurt or killed by attacks on Kharkiv, where they lived.
However, on March 16th, Anna took to the platform to reassure followers, and let them know Stepan and she were safe, and had found refuge in France after leaving Ukraine.
A post featuring images of Stepan looking scared in his travel bag and on a train was accompanied by a long caption detailing the gruelling journey from Ukraine.
Fans were worried about Stepan and Anna earlier this year when their Instagram account went dark amid the war in Ukraine. After a two-week silence, Anna update their followers with a message letting them know the pair had been forced to flee the country
The Instagram post Anna shared in March, letting fans know she and Stepan were still alive, included this photo of Stepan hiding in a coat during their gruelling journey to France
‘On February 24, early in the morning, we were sleeping at home. At 5am, some explosion was heard, and I didn’t even understand what it was,’ she said.
‘After a while, after half an hour later, there were more explosions, the windows trembled. I jumped up and understood that something terrible was happening!
‘The attack and shelling of Kharkiv (especially on the North Saltovka where we live). We realized that the war had come to our house.’
The post also described their gruelling journey, saying: ‘We got on the train Kharkiv – Lviv (in 20 hours, we got to Lviv). Then we followed to the border with Poland.
‘At the border, we stood in a line in a pedestrian crossing. There were a lot of people (4-5 thousand). After 9 hours, we crossed the border.
‘When we reached Poland, we were offered help from the World Influencers and Bloggers Association from Monaco.
‘They helped us get to France to wait for the very day when we could return home. We’re all right now. We worry very much about our relatives in Ukraine and will do the very best we can to help our country.’