This “holiday” is not a decade old yet, but its just a formality. Cats have been respected in St. Petersburg for more than 3 centuries. The furry ones even have a Republic of their own. Kseniya Eremenko met its president and found out why Funtik the kitten is having a hard time getting a city registration.
seniya Eremenko, reporter: “Tishina Matroskina Mitkovna – or, more casually, Tishka – is the main figure of this holiday. Thanks to her arrival here – at the perch of house 36, Marat street, next to the Mitkovs Gallery, the Cats Day was founded. She inspires artists and protects better than a guard dog".
The “Mitkys” are sure – only with such protection would their gallery be absolutely secure. In 2005 they were evicted from the Pravda street – with some noise. The first thing they did upo settling in a new place was a talisman search. One cat, then another. Now they have a whole army of them.
Dmitriy Shagin, artist, member of “Mitky” art group: “I think it protects. Everybody knows that the Mitkys are here, this monument is even marked on the map of St. Petersburg. Passers-by take pictures of it, just like of the Chizhyk-Pyzhyk statue”.
They decided to make their love for cats official and founded this “holiday”. They suggested hailing all St. Petersburg’s cats on June 8t and let all people with cat-like surnames leave home earlier from work on that day.
Elisey the cat, which sits on the perch of the building at Malaya Sadovaya street, has high expectations – nothing less than fulfillment of all wishes. This monument is one of the richest in history. It has been standing still for more than 14 years, yet manages to earn at least a thousand rubles per day. It works for two – Vasilisa the cat on the opposite wall is being noticed only by the more attentive ones. The money, as it often happens, goes to the most adventurous ones.
Historian Sergey Lebedev – former owner of this bronze pair and ideologist of the “holiday” – also decides to drop a coin. Prior to that he hadn’t asked Elisey for anything. But for the last two years he has been trying to install another sculpture, authored by young sculptor Semyon Platonov.
But even despite he’s 12 centimeters tall, the barely visible Funtik cannot escape paperwork and red-tape.
Sergey Lebedev, historian: “They’re telling me they need to gather a council and decide the matter. Tishka, Matroskina and Elisey were put there without any councils and are warming our hearts”.
The word is that these are monuments to cats from Yaroslavl. They were brought to blockaded Leningrad by trains – in huge numbers - to save the city from hungry rats. But a lot earlier than that, Peter the 1st legitimized “barn cats”. Elizabeth turned these house pets into invaluable employees of the Hermitage. Even today they are protecting the world’s masterpieces from rodents, and then, as the law goes, get a deserved retirement.
Dora Maar – the Hermitage cat bearing the name of Picasso’s muse – is one of the favorites at the cat home “Respublika Koshek”. Here, visitors get a special cat passport and learn new language – so to speak, obey all local laws.
Kseniya Eremenko, reporter: “Being in the “Respublika Koshek” and not paying a visit to its president is disrespectful. He, as it should be, resides on a throne and we, certainly, came with a gift. I hope his highness hasn’t dined yet”.
Mr. Jean Vale-Delamot – also former resident of Hermitage’s basements – recently celebrated its 15th birthday. In human terms, he’s more than 100 years old. The furry president has 20 employees. Among them are lively Gaugin, as if stepped down from the painter’s masterpieces, and tall mane-kun kitten called Hemingway. The American novelist loved these cats, which look like raccoons.
Yulia Pekhina, administrator “Respublika Koshek”: “it grows up to 15 kilograms and can reach up to 1,5 meters from toes to tail. Hemingway used to have 5-6 cats, almost all of them were polydacts – that means extra toes. Look here, it has more toes than an average cat”.
Some residents are far from literature and art. They find their way here – just like the red modest cat with exotic name Monekineko – after unfortunate household experiences. It will celebrate her 1st St. Petersburg Cat Day with a tasty dinner, surrounded by loving people. Cats do walk by themselves, but they purr only in a good company.