After children, dogs and animals in general were a great delight to Catherine II. of Russia, in connection with which many anecdotes have been recorded. In 1785, we are told how she took a fancy to a white squirrel, of which she made a pet, and about the same time she became possessed of a monkey of whose cleverness she would "the amazement of Prince Henry one day when Prince Potenkin let loose a monkey in the room, with which I began to play. He opened his eyes, but he could not resist the tricks of the monkey."
Her Majesty also had a favourite cat, which seems to have been a wonderful animal—"the most tomcat of all tomcats, gay, witty, not obstinate." In one of her letters she writes : "You will excuse me if all the preceding page is very badly written. I am extremely hampered at the moment by a certain young and fair Zemire, who of all the Thomassins is the one who will come closest to me, and who pushes her pretensions to the point of having her paws on my paper."
From Royalty In All Ages: The Amusements, Eccentricities, Accomplishments, Superstitions, and Frolics of the Kings and Queens of Europe (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903), p. 261.