Achilles the deaf Hermitage cat to reprise role as ‘animal psychic’ for Russia 2018
Achilles’ day job is guarding precious paintings at the world-famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg but was selected to pick the traditional pre-match predictions for last summer’s Confed Cup.
Maria Halttunen, press secretary for Hermitage cats, said Achilles was chosen for the role due to his “ability to choose and analyze,” as well as the fact that he’s not easily distracted because of his deafness.
The clairvoyant cat will even be given his very own Fan ID, also known as a fan passport, which will allow supporters access to stadiums. In the lead-up to the tournament, the cat will visit children’s hospitals and homes for the elderly.
According to Halttunen, Achilles has been enjoying himself since the Confederations Cup ended last July, having spent time with his family, gained a kilogram in weight, and returned with a little “pot belly.” His reported current weight is 4.7 kg.
The lengthy relationship between cats and the Hermitage dates back to the 18th century, when Peter I brought a cat back from his travels to Holland. Achilles’ name comes from the museum’s tradition of giving names of famous painters and mythical heroes to cat employees.
The snow-white feline, who has lived in the Winter Palace since birth, will make predictions by choosing one of two mice to eat. Whichever country’s flag is standing nearest to that mouse will win the match, according to the process.
Founded in 1754, the Hermitage Museum employs over 50 cats who protect paintings from attacks by rodents. Achilles was chosen from among his colleagues as the calmest and most people-friendly cat.