Siberian hermit lady lives with eight cats

Siberian hermit lady Agafya
Siberian hermit lady Agafya – Photo by Igor Shpilenok
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She lives deep in Siberia, a full two day trip along rivers from the nearest civilisation. She lives alone with eight cats two nanny goats, a male goat, a rooster, hens and a dog. I wonder if you can call the cats “Siberian cats”. You may have heard of the Siberian pedigree cat in the West.

She has lived alone since her father Karp died in in 1988 and does everything herself. All the other family members who lived together have died. Her siblings died in 1981 and her mother in 1961.

She was born in the house she lives in and is 69 years old and she is lonely for a Christian human companion.

“With tears and cry we beg you, in the name of Christ, not to leave me alone and pay mercy to an orphan in need. There must be Christians around.”

She is a old-fashioned practicing Christian and on the day that the church honours the prophet Elijah she forbade visitors – that she rarely receives – from working.

Her father decided to live deep into the Siberian forest to escape Stalin’s oppression. He built a sturdy house from wood from the forest which she maintains and lives in, in the freezing winters. In the summer she lives in a fragile DIY wooden hut with some plastic sheeting.

Agafya's summer hut
Agafya’s summer hut. The cat appears to be a tortoiseshell. Photo by Igor Shpilenok

As mentioned, she does get visitors from time to time. What can you say? She is an awesome woman and she cares for cats. That’s why her story appealed to me. That and the fact she is as strong mentally and physically as the mountains she lives in.

Woob built Siberian home
The home – Photo: Igor Shpilenok

36 thoughts on “Siberian hermit lady lives with eight cats”

  1. I find myself completely drawn to the first photograph there is a sort of raw honesty to it. I wonder about some of the things she has lived through such as the death of her siblings. I think she is scared of dying alone.

  2. Oh what a brave and strong woman and what a lonely life she leads, I wonder if she sits at night and remembers when all her family were alive, I wish she could find love or companionship and I’m a bit concerned how she will manage alone when she is older.

    • Yes she is brave and strong but I think it is too tough. The cats are vulnerable really because if she falls ill the cats might suffer. That is not to criticise her, just a thought.

      • And a very good thought, she and the animals are all vulnerable, and if she had an accident and couldn’t get help for herself and the animals then it would be a disaster. Perhaps if it’s all she’s ever known she feels safe there but I would be absolutely scared out of my wits at the responsibilty

        • I don’t see her ever leaving willingly.
          So, I think it’s essential that she has a companion, someone for company and safety purposes.

  3. A fascinating and hard working woman; very resourceful, I’m sure.
    She looks good at 69 and is, obviously, very fit.
    I’m sorry that she feels so lonely. Maybe she thinks a christian companion would be safer than someone else.
    I wonder if supplies are dropped to her now and then. The buckets look quite new, and the cat looks healthy.

  4. Turns out she won’t touch anything with a barcode on it. She feels that these are symbols of the devil. I found an interesting analogy of this fact here: – you will need to translate it. It talks about the relationship between the value and the aesthetic representation – using the number 666.

    She also has a whole library of books from the pre communist times – religious orthodox christian books.

    Helicopters have landed there many times over the years.

    I must admit I am completely drwn to this.

    • I wondered if her fear or loathing of barcodes was connected to the Stalin era. Some sort of labelling of people with numbers. Her father took the entire family out of society into the wilderness.

      • Michael – my surname is Russian and it was the name of a village in Siberia ‘next to water’ – otherwise translated as ‘flows like water’ in modern Russian. But my father’s side of the familly originated in Siberia – and moved eventually to Odessa and then to Moscow – my grandfather grew up in Moscow and moved to Leningrad before leaving Russia and going to Paris in the early 1900s.

        So I have a fascination with this part of the world.


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