Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, is giving a housewarming cat to new homeowners who sign up for the bank’s new special mortgage program.
The bank gives clients a choice of 10 breeds on its promotional website, from salt and pepper cat ‘Caesar’ that has a mustache to a hairless cat called ‘Kuzya’. The most popular choice so far is Knops - a gray and white kitten with piercing yellow eyes.
In Russia it is a tradition to let a cat first walk into a new home or apartment to bring good luck. After the cat, the owners can enter and throw a housewarming party.
Each new borrower gets a furry feline delivered to the doorstep, but only for two hours - the cats are not permanent gifts, according to the small print, which also stipulates you cannot transfer or trade your cat to a third party.
To be eligible for the cat delivery service, you must be a Russian citizen and live in Moscow or the Moscow region. The offer runs through until the end of September.
This is not the first feline-related campaign run by the bank. Previously it’s offered clients a test to determine what kind of cat personality they have – again promoting a special mortgage offer.
Russia’s housing market has boomed since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, with more and more Russians becoming owners of their own apartments. As of 2012, about 85 percent of the country’s 62 million apartments are privately owned, according to Russia’s Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending.
On Thursday, state-run Sberbank released its earnings report which revealed that net profit shrank by 2.3 percent in the first half of 2014, because of the tripling of the provision for bad loans.
The cat gimmick hopes to boost mortgage lending, which has become more expensive over the last year, but is still thriving. In July mortgage lending was 35.6 percent higher than the same period last year, according to Central Bank data.