Kot’ka and the
Romanov Family Pets
ROMANOV FAMILY PETS
Love towards animals was one of the things that members of Russia’s last royal family were known for. They had many dogs and cats and some of them remained by their owners’ side in exile in the Urals.
The heir to the throne, Tsarevich Alexei, grew up as an energetic, fun-loving and curious boy. The hemophilia that put his life at constant risk taught him to be strong, patient and merciful towards others. He didn’t have many friends and the main happiness in his life were his pets: a cat named Kot’ka and a dog called Joy which almost never left his owner’s side.
Kot’ka was a big, furry cat, a gift from general Vladimir Voyekov, the chief of the Tsar’s personal guard. Kot’ka couldn’t hurt the boy – its claws were taken out because Alexei suffered from hemophilia and any scratch could have been fatal. Alexei though didn’t know about it: Voyekov didn’t want to tell the impressionable boy about it – instead he said the cat simply could not release the claws.
Tsesarevich Alexei always took Kot’ka with him wherever he went and sometimes even brought him to high-level dinners that “frightened those who were afraid of cats,” Voyekov remembers in his memoirs. Alexei, afraid to lose Kot’ka outside of the house, rarely took the cat on walks.
Leaving their royal residence in Tsarskoye Selo to live in exile in Tobolsk, the family couldn’t take the cats with them: Kot’ka and Zubrovka remained in the palace with other cats (according to some accounts there were later adopted by kind-hearted people).
All the members of the Romanov family were animal lovers, and each imperial child had pets: dogs, cats, horses, and even a pet elephant. The children even had a little pet cemetery where they buried their beloved animals, which was located on the Children’s Island in the Alexander Park. They visited it often and brought fresh flowers…