ST. PETERSBURG, March 12. /TASS/. Achilles, a white-furred Hermitage male cat that was an official oracle of the 2017 Confederations Cup and will predict the results of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, will receive a fan identification card (Fan ID), Hermitage staff member Maria Khaltunen told reporters in TASS’ press center in St. Petersburg.
"He (Achilles - TASS) will receive a Fan ID. This decision has been made already and papers signed," Khaltunen noted.
St. Petersburg’s sports committee will issue a Fan ID for Achilles, and the oracle cat will become the only animal to possess such a document. "Animals are not given [Fan IDs,] as there are questions concerning photos," she said.
In the summer of 2017, the Hermitage museum refused to give Achilles to his new master so that he could predict the outcomes of the FIFA World Cup matches. The white cat was right about the outcomes of three out of four Confederations Cup matches played in St. Petersburg, including the opening and final matches.
Back in 2017 Achilles was selected as the animal oracle as "he displayed capabilities for choice, analysis and unusual behavior," Khaltunen said. Moreover, Achilles is deaf as many white cats are, yet this impairment does not sidetrack the feline and lets him better concentrate on his predictions.
The cats have been living in the Hermitage, originally a tsar’s palace, since the 18th century after Empress Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great, the founder of the city, issued an order to bring mice-catching cats from the city of Kazan, famous for its rat hunters at that time.
Now, from 50 to 70 rat-catching cats roam the Hermitage’s basement and they also appear on the neighboring embankment and square. Their population is regulated to avoid territorial disputes. In the recent years, the cats of the Hermitage have become a popular tourist brand in the city.
The city even established a special holiday - Day of the Hermitage Cat. Apart from that, it offers a tourist trail, Cats of St. Petersburg. In 2015, the British press put the Hermitage Museum cats on the list of the world’s most unusual tourist attractions.
The FIFA World Cup will run from June 14 to July 15, 2018, in 11 Russian cities. St. Petersburg will host four group matches, a round of 16, a semifinal match and a third place play-off.