Cat Achilles

Hermitage Museum Cat Achilles May Become Oracle for 2018 FIFA World Cup

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ST.PETERSBURG (Sputnik) - Achilles, one of the famous cats of St. Petersburg's Hermitage museum, is likely to become the animal oracle that predicts the outcome of matches for this summer's FIFA World Cup in Russia, the museum's press service told Sputnik on Friday.

"Achilles is at the museum now, he is about to pass the annual medical check-up and preparing to continue pursuing the career as an oracle [at the 2018 World Cup]," the Hermitage's press service said.

Achilles will have his check-up next week along with other Hermitage cats, veterinarian of the museum cats Anna Kondratyeva, told Sputnik. According to the doctor, the check-up is a routine procedure and is not linked to Achilles' potential new appointment.

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Achilles has already fulfilled a similar role during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, also held in Russia.

The cat was chosen as an oracle for the Confederations Cup because of his good resistance to stress and well-developed people skills. Achilles, who was born with a hearing impairment, was also chosen in part due to his analytic abilities and unusual behavior.

The cat made his predictions of a potential winner by choosing one of two plates of food, each marked with the flag of one of the teams.

Cats have been living in the museum since the early 18th century, when Peter the Great brought a cat from the Netherlands to the Winter Palace. Catherine the Great officially conferred the status of painting gallery guardians on the cats living in the palace. The tradition of keeping cats to protect the galleries from rodents was suspended only during the blockade of the city in the World War II.

At the moment, about 50 cats live in the cellars of Hermitage and a special department was formed to handle their needs.

The first game of the World Cup tournament — Russia vs. Saudi Arabia — will be held in Moscow on June 14.


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