‘Big Floppa’, a feline with stunning green eyes, an elongated nose, and tufted ears, has taken the internet by storm. The charming cat’s image has been used to create memes, T-shirts, and phone applications on social media platforms. However, it might come as a surprise to know that ‘Big Floppa’ is not your typical house cat, and he actually resides in Russia. Andrei Bondarev, a videographer from Moscow, shared an image of his “pet” having a meal on Instagram in April 2018. This giant short-haired cat with a large elongated nose, bright green eyes, and very long tufted ears instantly went viral and became a sensation on social media sites like Reddit. The cat and his two companions, Matvei and Zhora, became bloggers and gained even more popularity in 2020 under the name ‘Big Floppa’ or ‘Kot Shlyopa’ due to his striking ears. However, the cat’s real name is Gosha, and he belongs to the caracal species, which is similar in appearance to a lynx. Although native to Africa, Asia, and India, Gosha was born on December 21, 2017, in a Ukrainian cattery specializing in wild cats.
Several months after, specifically in April 2018, he traveled to Moscow and discovered a new home with the Bondarev household. The family consisted of Andrei and his wife, Yelena or Lena, who stumbled upon a photo of a unique wildcat on the internet. The idea of having one became their dream. After a year of preparing and consulting experts, they finally decided to adopt a caracal, making their dream come to life.
Georgy and his furry companions took a long minibus trip of more than 24 hours to reach Moscow. When they arrived, Gosha, the newest cat in the family, was hesitant to explore the new apartment. However, with the help of Matvei, an older cat adopted from an animal shelter, Gosha gradually became comfortable in his new home. At first, Zhora, the third cat in the household, was not pleased with Gosha’s arrival and ignored him and their owners for a few weeks. But eventually, Zhora warmed up to Gosha, and now they are close friends. Although Gosha had some trouble with litter box training, Yelena assured Georgy that this is typical feline behavior and can be easily resolved. Despite these challenges, Gosha remains an active and playful kitten.
Yelena likes to keep her caracal, Gosha, well-fed with a nutritious meal that includes turkey, rabbit, and other healthy ingredients. She shares that Gosha is very attached to her and thinks of her as his human. In fact, he displays qualities that are more commonly seen in dogs, such as being fiercely loyal to Yelena. However, Gosha doesn’t like being left alone and is cautious of unfamiliar people.
Andrei has pointed out that Georgy’s behavior tends to be aggressive. He usually spends his free time tearing up the cardboard pieces provided to him by Andrei and Yelena. Sadly, this destructive tendency is not limited to cardboard alone, as he also damages furniture and wallpaper.
Andrei has shared that his cat, Gosha, can be quite a handful. The feline has a tendency to scratch through walls, leaving behind deep grooves down to the concrete. Andrei has tried repairing the damage, but eventually gave up due to the cat’s persistent behavior. In addition, Gosha managed to scratch their TV while watching Animal Planet. Despite these destructive tendencies, the mischievous cat became an internet sensation in early 2020. A photo of him lying on a windowsill with Zhora went viral, leading to a plethora of memes, demotivational posters, and manipulated images. These started circulating in meme communities on Instagram before spreading to other social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit.
Yelena shared the story of how they found out about Gosha’s popularity on the internet from a friend of her husband who also had a caracal. At first, they were happy to see Gosha gaining attention online and shared pictures of him. However, Yelena felt uneasy when she saw Gosha being used in memes that promoted divisive political views or offensive content related to Nazism, racism, or homophobia. She finds such use of Gosha completely unacceptable and condemns it.
In the Google Play App Store, a new app dedicated to Big Floppa was introduced in the spring of 2021. The app showcases Gosha, or Gregory in English, in motion as you tap on him. It has received a lot of praise from users and has an array of optimistic reviews.
A person left a comment expressing their admiration for the game, highlighting its captivating content and even mentioning some eerie moments that made them jump. They were taken aback when they clicked on Shlyopa (Floppa) and heard him growl. The game has a well-rounded content that doesn’t require any additional features. Yelena raised concerns about Gosha’s monthly expenses, stating that although some supporters donate to help other cats, the amount is insufficient to cover the basic needs of food and litter that cost around 20-25,000 rubles ($270-$340).
Moreover, the Bondarev family takes Gosha to a wild cat specialist twice a year for check-ups and vaccinations. Despite his unique background, the family considers him to be just like any other domestic cat. However, his large size demands more attention and care as injuries sustained during playtime can be more severe compared to smaller cats. Furthermore, larger cats tend to cause more destruction inside households. Nevertheless, Yelena emphasizes that regardless of their size or origin, a cat is still a beloved feline companion.