A white-furred cat named Achilles is being touted as the "official oracle" of the World Cup after he correctly predicted who would win the opening match of FIFA's 2018 World Cup.
Last Wednesday, Achilles marked Russia for victory when he picked between two bowls of cat food, choosing the bowl marked with the Russian flag. Russia then went on to win the opening match against Saudi Arabia with a score of 5-0.
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The feline oracle has also predicted that the Russian team will triumph again in Tuesday's match against Egypt during the FIFA World Cup in St. Petersburg.
Achilles is a part of the colony of cats that calls the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum home. There are some 60 to 70 cats tasked with pest control in the museum's basement. The cats have become a big pull for tourists, and wander the grounds at their leisure.
The city even established a special holiday in their honore - Day of the Hermitage Cat.
Cared for by the museum staff and tended to by museum veterinarian, Anna Kondratyeva, the Hermitage cats also act as therapy animals and visit local children hospitals weekly. Aside from training as an "oracle," Achilles also works as a therapy cat.
The Hermitage cats have been living in the museum, which was originally a czar's palace, since the 18th century, when Empress Elizabeth issued an order to bring mice-catching cats to keep the palace clear of mice and other pests. Empress Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great, the founder of St. Petersburg.
According to the Tass news agency, Achilles is the official oracle for a reason. In 2017, he correctly predicted three out of four matches in the soccer FIFA Confederations Cup.
Achilles will predict the outcome of the World Cup’s matches due to be held in St. Petersburg on June 22, June 26, July 6 and July 10, Tass notes.