The Hermitage Has a Psychic Cat That Can Predict the World Cup’s Winner—But Is He Blinded by Nationalistic ‘Fur’-vor?

So far the Hermitage house cat is showing a strong allegiance to his motherland.

Achilles the cat, one of the State Hermitage Museum mice hunters, poses for a photo with the Russian flag during a ceremony in St. Petersburg on June 13, 2018. Photo: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images.

The cat is out of the bag. Earlier this year, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg announced that one of its mouse-catching denizens was also a psychic, and declared the cat the official oracle of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held this year in Russia.

The cat, named Achilles, is a deaf, white-furred creature, who museum officials said demonstrated “capabilities for choice, analysis, and unusual behavior.” In order to forecast the results, Achilles is tasked with choosing between two identical food bowls marked with flags from competing nations. So far, Achilles has chosen Russia to win each of its matches, without fail.

The opening game kicked off in Russia last week, but before any cleats hit the field, Achilles had divined that Russia would defeat Saudi Arabia—which it did, handily. The clairvoyant kitty’s “performance” is a joint tourism project between the city of St. Petersburg and the State Hermitage Museum. (In 2017, the Hermitage welcomed some 4.1 million visitors, more than a few whiskers shy of the 5.3 million tourists who visited the nearby Peterhof Palace.)

A Hermitage employee carries Achilles the cat during a ceremony on June 19, 2018. Photo: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images.

St. Petersburg is hosting seven World Cup matches, and for the first competition, Achilles successfully predicted Iran’s victory over Morocco on June 15. Things became a bit more complicated at the next event, when, according to witnesses, the cat wavered between two bowls representing Russia and Egypt. Though he first chose Russia, he later returned to finish off the Egypt bowl, too.

Those concerned that Achilles may be something of a biased paw-triot were not assuaged when Anna Kondratyeva, the veterinarian at the Hermitage, told the Associated Press that Achilles “loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise.”

The remaining St. Petersburg-based matches will take place on June 22, July 6, and July 10—and in the meantime, you can watch Achilles at work below.

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