Free-living Istanbul cat remembered in a bronze statue

This is another good news cat story. We like them because there are too many bad news cat stories.

Most cats in Turkey are “free-living”. Another term is “community cats”. They don’t have owners. They share their time between a group of caretakers. Somehow this seems more natural for the domestic cat. It certainly works in many parts of the world.

Tombili a Turkish street cat
Tombili a celebrated Turkish street cat
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There are downsides to this style of domestic cat living. Who takes responsibility for veterinary care, instance?

An obese female community cat, Tombili, was much loved and overfed. She spent a considerable part of her time lounging against a wall gazing at the street activities in the area of Istanbul where she lived: the neighborhood of Ziverbey.

Tombili a celebrated Turkish street cat
Tombili a celebrated Turkish street cat

Tombili gathered a fan base. She became well-known. This may have encouraged shop keepers and residents to care for her in such a way that was ultimately detrimental to her health. We can’t criticise. It is just the way it worked out. She must have had a good life by the standards of many street cats in Turkey.

Of course Turkey is well-known as one of those ancient places where the domestic cat goes back thousands of years. Turkish Angoras (a prized purebred cat in the West) run around the streets as community cats. They’re everywhere.

Tombili was a standard tabby-and-white. She became famous through the internet via a photo of her reclining like a human outside on the street.

Tombili a celebrated Turkish street cat
Tombili a celebrated Turkish street cat

When she died in August of 2015 a person attached a poster to a tree in her memory. This lead to a petition for funds to create a statue to commemorate her life.

It seems that a local sculpture/artist took up the challenge and created a very nice bronze statue which was unveiled on World Animal Day.

Batu Aksoy, one of the founders of the Anatolian Cat Project said that Tombili didn’t like to spend time with other cats. Perhaps she preferred the company of humans. She certainly got on very nicely with them.

I just like to see cats celebrated like this. It is respecting the cat. I feel the long history of the Turkish people’s relationship with the domestic is evident in the life of Tombili. It is generally a good relationship. Although many will argue that the concept of community cats is outdated. It is too lax. It allows cats to breed and create feral cat problems.

In my view “community cats” or free cats are the original domestic cats. This is how humans and cats lived together in ancient times. RIP Tombili.

3 thoughts on “Free-living Istanbul cat remembered in a bronze statue”

  1. Turkey seems to be an exceptional country when it comes to community cats. Can I count on America to erect a bronze statue for any animal, much less a cat?

    Tombili was obese; but, her obesity was, certainly, a result of the peoples’ love for her and ignorance about over indulging her.

    But, she lived a happy life surrounded by kind, loving people.

    What more could be asked for?


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