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Cats guard Russia's Hermitage museum

By jim Published: June 12, 2009

Fighting off, and feeding on, rodents that would gnaw away at masterpieces, dozens of "working" cats patrol the labyrinthine storerooms of Russia's Hermitage museum.

Cats have been guarding the museum for the last 200 years since the Tsarist period.

They first appeared during the reign of Peter the Great's daughter, Empress Elizabeth.

Fed up with hundreds of rodents running through the palace Elizabeth signed a decree ordering the best rat and mice-catching cats to be sent to Her Majesty's court.

The cats survived the Napoleonic wars and even the Russian Revolution.

The only time the cats disappeared from the Hermitage was during World War ll.

The Nazis laid siege to the city for 900 days and hundreds of thousands of residents died, as well as all the cats. According to museum lore, when the war finally ended two railway wagons of new cats arrived in Leningrad.

What an amazing and interesting story from the National Geographic. Go, now, and watch the short video.

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