Catherine’s Cats; tail of Saint Petersburg’s feline underworld
(Special to the Mendeleyev Journal)
Quick! What is the Russian word for cat? кот (koht), or the more affectionate term of кошка (kosh-ka).
Now, how do you spell mousetrap in just three letters? C-A-T!
What do you use to comb a cat? A catacomb.
Okay, enough cat jokes. Let’s get serious for a moment because if you’re a cat lover then you know how easily one of these furry friends can in no time have you wrapped around their paws.
Cats are generally loved and adored in Russia. In fact, the breed called Russian Blue is thought to have originated in the Russian port city of Arkhangelsk. A Russian Blue is a beautiful cat with a silver-blue coat. These cats are regarded as highly intelligent and playful yet timid around strangers. Many Russians claim to seek them out because of their intelligence and willingness to share affection with their owners.
Catherine the great loved cats too. She loved them so much that she had carriages loaded with cats brought from the far reaches of Russia to Saint Petersburg. Her thinking was that if the Cossacks were good enough to guard the palaces, then Russia’s finest cats could be trusted to keep mice and rats on the run, too.
Today, a special group of cats guard the famous Hermitage complex in Saint Petersburg and these cats are treated like royalty.