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Russia's Hermitage cats as famous as museum's collections

The cats have become stars in their own right, hugely popular with some three million tourists who visit each year and snap up souvenirs and postcards adorned with cat pictures on sale in the museum's shops.

Saint Petersburg

FOR more than a century visitors have marvelled at the Hermitage Museum's precious collections, and for just as long dozens of cats have prowled the Saint Petersburg palace's sprawling cellars.

The felines has one main task - to root out unwanted guests: rodents.