Achilles the cat spends most of his time catching rats in the basement of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. His true talent, however, lies in an ability to predict soccer matches ⏤ that’s why he’s famous. Naturally, all eyes are on Achilles as the World Cup kicks off today in Moscow.
A year ago Achilles was named the official oracle of the Confederations Cup. He picked three of four matches correctly in that tournament, winning acclaim as the latest animal with the nearly supernatural ability to pick soccer matches.
At a press conference, Achilles carefully considered two bowls of food ⏤ one with a Russian flag, one with a Saudi Arabian flag ⏤ before eating out of the Russian bowl. His prediction was clear: the home team would take the opening match.
So, should you rely on a deaf feline to make your own World Cup picks? Achilles’s record in the Confederations Cup, which was also played in Russia, is impressive. But his objectivity, at least for this first match, may be in question.
Anna Knodratyeva, the veterinarian at the Hermitage, said after the pick that Achilles “loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise.” There’s also the matter of the Russian jersey Achilles donned at the press conference, where he posed next to a miniature Russian flag and soccer ball. Not exactly the image of an impartial prognosticator.
If Russia is able to pull out a victory today, Achilles will surely be celebrated by animal enthusiasts and gamblers the world over. If the Saudis win, it won’t be so bad. He’ll return to his life hunting rats at the museum, which, if you’re a cat, is not a bad life at all.