Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Achilles the Cat trains to predict results in Russia

Reuters, SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia

Like many soccer fans trying to predict the results of the FIFA World Cup, Achilles is busy studying the teams heading to Russia this month for the sport’s biggest global showdown. However, he has one advantage: cat sense.

The furry white feline, who lives in Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, is being touted as a cat psychic who will predict the winners and losers of the tournament that is to begin in Russia in two weeks.

Achilles has some big shoes — or tentacles — to fill: Paul the Octopus became an international celebrity during the 2010 World Cup when he correctly forecast the outcome of Germany’s games and picked eventual winners Spain.

One of the many cats to have lived at the Hermitage, once the imperial Winter Palace, Achilles predicted outcomes during last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

Achilles is deaf, meaning he will not be easily distracted by waiting journalists when he makes his predictions by choosing between two bowls of food, each bearing a team flag.

For his training, Achilles, dressed in a red soccer jersey, looks at a chart of the teams and game schedules before — slightly reluctantly — moving onto an exercise wheel.

“Achilles is now in his place of work, he is preparing for the World Cup and going through the adaptation process,” veterinarian Anna Kondratieva said during a training session at a pet shop near the museum.

“People tend to feed him more than they should. When he came to us he looked like a football, not a cat, so we decided to put him on a strict diet,” Kondratieva said.

When Achilles is not in training, he can also be found posing for pictures in the museum yard, building a celebrity persona that is about to get a huge lift from one of the world’s most-watched sporting tournaments.

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