China’s ‘psychic’ ginger cat dies after World Cup winning streak

Thousands of fans leave condolence messages online for Baidian’er, who lived at the Forbidden City and predicted the winners of seven out of 10 matches

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 4:16pm

A stray ginger cat who won hearts in soccer-mad China by correctly predicting the winners of seven out of 10 World Cup matches died from a complication of heart disease on Monday, prompting thousands of fans to leave condolence messages online.

The “imperial” street cat was often found near the west gate of the Forbidden City in central Beijing, where he was fed by staff at the palace complex.

They named him Baidian’er – which means “white spot” in Chinese, referring to the patch of white fur under his nose – and when the World Cup kicked off last month they decided to appoint him as the tournament oracle.

He made his “predictions” by choosing between two bowls of cat food bearing the national flags of competing teams.

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Baidian’er drew a huge following on social media after he got it right six times in a row – including Croatia beating Argentina, and Argentina’s late win over Nigeria – and photos of the “psychic cat” got thousands of likes.

But his winning streak was cut short on Monday when the cat, believed to be around seven or eight, died at a local veterinary clinic from blood clots resulting from a congenital heart defect.

Palace Museum staff had set up a microblog account on Weibo to keep fans updated on the popular cat’s health after they found him ailing on Friday last week and took him to the clinic.

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On Monday, staff broke the news that Baidian’er had died.

“We’re sorry, we have to let him go,” the post read, alongside a black-and-white photo of the moggie.

It prompted a flood of more than 9,000 comments, with fans leaving condolence messages and saying goodbye.

“It’s fine – he’s no longer in pain now,” one person wrote on the social media platform, China’s version of Twitter.

“We bought some cat food for him after he predicted Argentina would beat Nigeria,” another fan wrote in an online soccer forum.

Baidian’er was not the only cat “predicting” the outcome of World Cup games. In host nation Russia, a snow white moggie called Achilles – who is deaf and lives in St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – has also become an internet celebrity and has so far correctly predicted the results for nearly every game.