On a bench in the center of Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of the Mari El Republic, sits a bronze sculpture of a smug-faced cat with a newspaper spread under his butt. This is the Yoshkin Cat, a visual representation of a Russian expletive.
In Russian, yoshkin-kot (literally “Yoshkin cat”) is a humorous phrase uttered in surprise or mild shock, perhaps similar to the “holy cow” in English. One theory suggests that it may refer to Bayun, a magical cat in Russian fairytales, who often assists the witch Baba Yaga.
However, it is not known what yoshkin (or sometimes ezhkin) really means anymore—perhaps a corruption of some earlier word. But one thing is thought to be clear: that it has nothing to do with Yoshkar-Ola, despite the similarity of the sounds.
Still, the Cat of Yoshkar-Ola keeps on smirking smugly, regardless of his relevance.