Dmitry Mikhnev went viral for posting videos of his cat, Hunter, meowing along to songs.
When the Russian TikToker moved to Dubai in February, he was unable to take Hunter with him.
Now he’s rushing to save money to reunite with Hunter as the war in Ukraine makes travel uncertain.
Dmitry Mikhnev moved away from his home in Moscow and arrived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on February 22 with plans to save up enough money to eventually have his TikTok-famous cat, Hunter, come join him.
Two days later, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, causing chaos in Eastern Europe. Now, with the uncertainty surrounding the war, Mikhnev is desperately trying to raise enough money to bring his cat to Dubai as soon as possible.
“The situation in Russia changes every day, and it is not certain which other restrictions await us,” Mikhnev told Insider in an email, suggesting that Russia might close its borders.
Mikhnev and Hunter have grown a following of more than 2.7 million people on TikTok, thanks to the duo’s musical act. Mikhnev typically plays a popular song and, by touching his cat’s nose at the right time, gets Hunter to meow along to the beat.
Some of his most popular videos, which get up to 70 million views, feature Hunter meowing along with Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Justin Bieber’s “Peaches.”
Mikhnev said he went viral on accident. He first noticed that Hunter, who is almost 10 years old, would meow whenever he applied slight pressure to his nose.
“I surprised my mother with this trick — when I pressed two times on his nose, he would say, ‘Mama,'” he said.
After he posted the first video of Hunter doing the trick along with music it “blew up the internet,” he said. Mikhnev now has people from all over the world watching videos of him and his cat. Their fans include celebrities, with Bieber himself sharing one of the videos.
Mikhnev said that he had wanted to leave Moscow since he was young but that he had recently become harder to work and earn money. “I was tired of the grayness, aggression, and terrible weather,” he said.
He said he moved to Dubai because he had spent time there before and initially left Hunter behind with family because he couldn’t afford all that bringing him along would entail, including a veterinarian appointment, vaccinations, tests, microchipping, flights, and pricier accommodations in Dubai.
He planned to save up enough money while working in Dubai to have Hunter come join him, but now with the war going on he’s trying to do it as quickly as possible.
Mikhnev also said the war in Ukraine was taking a heavy toll on his mental state.
“Thousands of people are dying there, no matter if they are Russian or Ukrainian,” he told Insider. “Ukraine had been, is, and always will be a brother country to me and the majority of the Russian population, I’m certain.”
Mikhnev is selling NFTs in an effort to raise enough money to bring Hunter to Dubai. The non-fungible tokens feature — what else? — pixel-art graphics of Hunter. They also include graphics depicting cats wearing various outfits, smoking cigarettes, and shooting lasers from their eyes.
Mikhnev wants to get Hunter out of Moscow now because he’s worried about the impact of the war on Russia, where severe sanctions enacted by the West are likely to take a crippling toll on Russia’s economy.
As for himself, Mikhnev says he never plans to visit his home country again.
“I’ve had enough of the ‘Russian world,'” he said, “and my goal is to never return there.”
Translations by Nikita Angarski and Oleksandr Vynogradov.