It’s always nice to see people who have a lot of money share it with others. And for a group of needy cats in a Russian museum, their fortunes greatly improved thanks to the generosity of a French philanthropist.
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg houses a large collection of almost 3 million works of art, artifacts, and sculptures. But its basement has also been a place where a ground of stray cats have called home.
In fact, CNN reports that stray felines have been calling this basement home for hundreds of years – ever since the days of Empress Elizabeth. The museum’s founder, Catherine the Great, had decreed that the cats were the guardians of the art galleries’ halls as they helped to keep the rodent populations at bay.
#didyouknow that cats serve as art guardians at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg? They protect the artworks from rats. They live in the palace basement with beds and food.#statehermitagemuseum #stpetersburg #catguards #russianfacts #funfacts #trivia
— House of the World (@houseoftheworl1) October 14, 2020
Today there about 50 cats living in the museum’s basement. They are cared for by the museum’s staff as well as volunteers.
According to the museum’s website, these cats are also supported by the generosity of donations which has led to these cats having access to veterinary services as well as their own washing machine.
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
As CNN reported, the museum’s general director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, explained that the French philanthropist chose to leave the animals a “small sum” in his will after he took a shine to the cats. Piotrovsky further stated that while the amount of money wasn’t anything extravagant, it was still brought a “brilliant” amount of PR to the cats of the museum. The gesture, while a nice one, was also a major pain to deal with given that the museum had to deal with lawyers and paperwork.
But once that was all sorted, Piotrovsky shared that the money will be put towards repairing the museum’s basement in order to make things more comfortable for the felines.
The French philanthropist wasn’t the only one who had become enamored with the cats of the museum. As Piotrovsky elaborated, Vladimir Fortov, the former president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, would often stop by to visit the cats – as well as leave them donations. What lucky little felines indeed.
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →