Fortean Times


New oldest dog, döppelgang­er murder update and pussies in peril as the Phantom Cat Shaver returns



The UK seems to be in the grip of an outbreak of cat shaving, with “Phantom Cat Shavers” on the prowl in both Kent and Coventry. Coventry experience­d a flurry of cat shaving in 2021, after which all went quiet, but the Shaver appears to have returned at the start of 2023, when a cat named Tallulah arrived home with the Shaver’s trademark perfect square cut into her stomach fur. “‘I thought maybe she licked the fur off her stomach or she had itchy skin,” said Tallulah’s owner, Bonnie Towe, “but once we lay her back we noticed it was quite a big patch and it was a perfectly cut square. It felt prickly like it had been shaved off. It had been done quite carefully as well, as her stomach didn’t look sore or cut.”

Meanwhile down in Kent, their Shaver is not so neat. A 10-year-old tabby cat belonging to Victoria Griffiths, 29, from Walderslad­e, came home with a large zig-zag pattern shaved into his back, while Kerry Ryan, 50, from Chatham found her cat Dennis had come home with an area around his back legs completely shaved. Other reports of cat shaving had also been made to police in the Medway towns in late 2022. In both areas the victims’ owners have expressed fears that the shaving may be a way of marking cats for future theft, but there is no evidence that previous shaving victims have been taken or come to any further harm. It would seem unlikely that anyone would go to the trouble of catching an animal to shave them, release them, and then have to capture them again to steal them. Previously, cat shavers have struck in Devon and in the Cotswolds, but police seem to have no leads on any of the perpetrato­rs, and their motive remains obscure., 11 Jan, 8 Feb 2023.


Police investigat­ing the murder of Algerian beauty blogger Khadidja O, 23, in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, arrested Shahraban K (German police only identify people with their first name and an initial), a 23-year-old beautician, for her murder, along with an accomplice. Khadidja’s corpse had been discovered in the back of Shahraban’s Mercedes with multiple stab wounds and looked so much like her alleged murderer that Shahraban’s own parents had identified the body as hers. Both had long black straight hair, similar complexion­s and heavy makeup, making the two women “strikingly alike”, leading the German press to refer to the case as the “döppelgang­er murder”. It was only at autopsy that inconsiste­ncies, such as different tattoos, revealed that the corpse was not Shahraban. The misidentif­ication was assisted by Khadija having been killed by being stabbed in the face more than 50 times, completely disfigurin­g her. Police now believe that Shahraban killed her döppelgang­er as part of a plan to disappear. “Investigat­ions have led us to assume that the accused wanted to go into hiding because of a family dispute and fake her own death to that effect,” said Veronika Grieser of the Ingolstadt state prosecutor’s office. In the weeks before the murder, Shahraban had contacted several people who closely resembled her on social media. “By making various promises she tried to bring about meetings, which was initially unsuccessf­ul,” Grieser said. However, Shahraban and her accomplice eventually got Khadidja to meet them with the promise of a cosmetics offer. They had then driven her to woodland, and, after she stepped out of the car, stabbed her to death. They then put the body in the back of the car and abandoned it in Ingolstadt, having left hints with Shahraban’s parents as to where she might be, so that they discovered the car with the body. “You don’t get a case like this every day, especially with such a spectacula­r twist,” said police spokespers­on Andreas Aichele. “On the day we found the body there was nothing to prepare us for this developmen­t.”

It turns out that Shahraban K isn’t the only person recently who has tried to kill their döppelgang­er. Viktoria Nasyrova, a Russian woman living in New York, has been convicted of trying to kill her beautician, Olga Tsvyk, with a piece of poisoned cheesecake in 2016. Both are Russian speakers and looked

very much alike, with similar complexion­s and dark hair, and Nasyrova is believed to have been intending to steal Tsvyk’s identity. She had gone to Tsvyk’s house with a box of cheesecake which she shared, eating two pieces herself and giving a third, dosed with Phenazepam, a powerful sedative, to Tsvyk, who ate it, then vomited and staggered to her room to lie down.

The next day, a friend found Tsvyk sprawled on her bed, unconsciou­s and now dressed in lacy lingerie, with pills scattered across the floor, giving the impression of a suicide attempt. Taken to hospital, she survived, and on returning home she found her Ukrainian passport and US work permit were missing, as well as jewellery and about $4,000 in cash. The trail of evidence led directly back to Nasyrova. It is thought that she was intending to assume Tsvyk’s identity using the stolen documents, possibly to evade an Interpol red notice for her arrest issued in 2015, as she is believed to have murdered a neighbour in Russia, Alla Alekseenko, and stolen her life savings. She was also wanted by US police for allegedly drugging and robbing men she met on dating websites, and faces up to 25 years in prison for her attempt on Tsvyk’s life. theguardia­n. com, 30 Jan 2022; BBC News, 10 Feb 2023.


After chihuahua Spike, 23, snatched the title of the world’s oldest dog from mixed breed Gino, 22, in November, just a few days after Gino had been awarded the accolade, he did not have long to savour his triumph, as just two weeks later an even older dog took the crown.

Bobi is a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, which is a breed of livestock guardian dog with an average life expectancy of 1214 years, and lives on a farm in Portugal. Not only did he take the title of oldest living dog, but also that of oldest dog ever. At 30 years and 226 days old, he comfortabl­y outstrips his predecesso­rs in longevity and has also outlived Australian cattle dog Bluey (1910-1939), the previous oldest known dog, who was 29 years and five months old at his death in 1939.

Bobi’s age is validated by the Portuguese government’s pet database, and Leonel Costa, Bobi’s owner, believes the secret to his longevity is the “calm, peaceful environmen­t” he lives in. The dog has trouble walking and poor eyesight, but otherwise seems to have few health problems and could potentiall­y live for several more years. BBC News, 3 Feb 2023.

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 ?? ?? TOP: Coventry resident Bonnie Towe’s cat Tallulah and her mysterious­y shaved tummy. ABOVE: Shahraban K (left) and victim Khadidja O.
TOP: Coventry resident Bonnie Towe’s cat Tallulah and her mysterious­y shaved tummy. ABOVE: Shahraban K (left) and victim Khadidja O.
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Thirty-year old Bobi is now the world’s oldest dog and the oldest dog ever.
ABOVE: Thirty-year old Bobi is now the world’s oldest dog and the oldest dog ever.
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