News & Opinion | July 10, 2018 9:00 am

The Science Behind “Psychic” Cat Who Picks the World Cup Winner

Achilles the cat has successfully predicted winners of several games.

world cup
Achilles the cat, one of the State Hermitage Museum mice hunters, approaches an Australian national flag during a prediction event of the results of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup group B football match between Cameroon and Australia. (OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Normally, Achilles the cat, who is deaf, lives in the basement of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and hunts for mice. But he has taken on a new role the past few weeks: Feline fortuneteller, who is capable of predicting the winners of soccer matches. According to National Geographic, trainers say the cat apparently foreshadows the outcome of the next match by eating food from one of two bowls, each marked with flags from competing teams. Achilles has so far predicted the outcomes of several games, including Russia’s wins against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Iran’s win against Morocco and Brazil’s win against Costa Rica.

But don’t get your hopes up about a cat that can predict the future, as experts say Achilles cannot predict the outcome of the World Cup. Kristyn Vitale, a cat researcher at Oregon State University’s Human Interaction Lab, says that there has been no research into clairvoyant cats. She thinks Achilles might be picking a particular bowl because he has a preference for the side its own, or he is picking up on the cues of humans around him.