This is quite interesting. I never knew about this.
Hermitage Museum's Tomcat day
Cats have been the heroes at the world-famous St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in Russia. Having felines as the protectors against rodents goes back 200 years for the museum.
Last Saturday Russia celebrated Tomcat day, their “professional” holiday for the 50 cat staff of the Hermitage.
“The museum’s attic will exhibit paintings and photos by professional painters as well as schoolchildren and students, who were inspired by the image of the cat.
Cats have always been a significant part of the museum’s life. They first settled down in the halls of the Hermitage when the museum was founded by Catherine the Great in the 18th Century, and were immediately granted the status of “Hermitage guards”.
At present, the estimated 50 cats of the Hermitage, each of them having its own passport with a picture, help the staff to do away with rodents.” – RT.com
“They execute so-called preventative activities so that rats and mice will stay away or are kept at a minimum,” museum worker Marie Khaltunen tells National Geographic through a translator. Though tourists are not allowed into the cats’ living quarters, “All the museum visitors can see them in the summer,” Khaltunen adds. “Generally they walk on the square and on the embankment, and also they come out into the big yard.”
The musem has started the “Want to Go Home” campaign to help some of the stray cats to find a permanent home.
“Their number plummeted during the deadly Leningrad Blockade. After the end of WW2, the Hermitage took care of the cats, whose vital duty is helping the museum get rid of those gnawing beasts, rats and mice.
In fact, their number is strictly specified. No more than fifty cats and kittens can stay at the Hermitage, although more cats always seem to turn up.”