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Bank: Would You Like a Cat with that Mortgage?

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LONDON, England (CNNMoney) -

Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, is offering to deliver cats to the doorsteps of new mortgage clients as part of a quirky promotional campaign.

In Russia, it’s considered good fortune if a cat enters a new home ahead of the owners.

A few customers have already signed up, though cat lovers may be disappointed to hear that the kitties will be on loan for just two hours and then whisked away.

Clients can choose from 10 felines with names like Caesar and Caramel. But they’ll have to hurry to secure one — the bank is limiting the cat campaign to 30 new mortgages only.

Sberbank’s promotion may be part of an effort to present a warm, fuzzy image since getting slapped with European sanctions one month ago.

The bank, which serves more than half the Russian population, has been banned from raising medium and long-term financing in Europe. Its shares have plunged by 28% since the start of the year.

Western sanctions against Russia are part of an effort to punish President Vladimir Putin for supporting separatist fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The cat campaign has generated a lot of buzz on social media, but it hasn’t all be positive.

One Twitter user — @Tsimchik — told Sberbank: “Reduce your interest rates and people will have enough money to run a cat farm!”

Another Facebook user from Iceland was keen on the concept, but not the cats. “I would take out a second mortgage if the bank gave me a monkey,” he said.

The Russian mortgage market has been expanding by more than 30% per year since 2009, according to statistics from the Russian central bank.

Mortgage lending in rubles has grown by 41% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.


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