Houses and Cats in Russian Tradition

For centuries Russians consider letting a cat into a new house before the humans move in as a sign of good luck.

They guarded Hermitage Museum and had their own servants and even after the October revolution they were looked after.

Few years ago the largest bank in Russia, Sberbank, was giving free cats to mortgage customers for good luck in their new homes.

According to Russian superstition, letting a cat walk through your new home before you move in brings good luck. “Order a cat for your housewarming, and bring happiness and luck to your home,” the state-controlled bank says on a special Cat Delivery Service website it set up to promote the campaign. Customers can choose among 10 breeds, including tabbies, Siamese, and an exotic hairless cat resembling a sphinx.

Russia’s largest bank is apparently loaning cats to clients who buy one of their mortgage products – as a sign of good luck.

In what has all the marks of a publicity stunt, Sberbank – one of Russia’s largest banks – says every new mortgage customer can choose the cat they want, and it will be delivered in time for their housewarming party.  The bank’s gives a choice of 10 breeds, and features a video showing the first happy clients receiving their cats. It’s an advertising campaign thought up by a local agency, and reportedly features delivery vans with cat logos cruising the streets of Moscow.

The bad news for customers is that they won’t be able to keep their feline. Terms of the offer say that the animal is only given so that it is the first to cross the threshold of the property – many Russians say a cat is sign of good luck to those moving into a new home – and is only available for two hours so the home-owners can take photos.

The cats are owned by individuals, including Sberbank employees, “who agreed to let their pets participate in special projects,” Anastasia Vakhlamova, a bank spokeswoman, told Bloomberg Businessweek. The bank started receiving requests for loaner cats “immediately after the launch of the special project” in mid-August 2014.

Cats were always a part of  life, because back in a day people of Russia mostly lived in villages, and every house had a cat simply as anti-mouse remedy.

The only real “cat tradition” is letting it into a new house before the humans move in, and there are about 4 versions of how that tradition came to us.

The most common belief is that cat is a spiritual animal, and it can feel good and bad energy, so, for example, the spot in a new house where cat decided to lie down for the first time needs to be a spot for a bed, and places the cat didn’t like should be avoided.

And a black cat crossing person’s pass is still considered a sign of bad luck in Russia as well as many other countries.