Cats can become a special part of our lives, even when they don’t belong to us. Many communities are filled with stray cats, who have no owners but manage to survive thanks to the kindness of strangers who make it a habit of caring for them, providing food and shelter.
Istanbul in particular is notable, not just for the sheer number of stray cats but by how ingrained they are into every day life—so much so that they got their own documentary film, Kedi.
Of all the stray cats roaming the Turkish city, one managed to stand out with her carefree attitude… and the city ensured that she would be remembered for years to come.
A street cat named Tombili—a common Turkish nickname for chubby pets—was always a favorite of the locals. With her hefty figure and habit of leaning on the sidewalk in a very relaxed pose, Tombili was a cat who seemed to have it all figured out.
She got even more famous when photos of her iconic pose made it online. There’s just something so relatable about this cat. Tombili remained a favorite: people would often visit her at her regular spot on the sidewalk in the district of Kadıköy, where she would be lounging around without a care in the world.
She had a good life… but sadly, Tombili died on August 1, 2016. Most stray cats would be forgotten about, but because Tombili was such a fixture of the community, the citizens of Istanbul decided to honor her legacy as an icon of the Turkish stray cat world in a big way:
They made a statue of her!
Heartbroken locals wanted to put up a memorial for the world-famous stray, and a Change.org petition was created to put up a statue.
“We hope that Tombili, who has been the mascot of the neighborhood for 11 years and whose reputation has spread beyond Kadıköy, is remembered and not forgotten in a similar way,” the petition reads.
The campaign was a success, an artist Seval Şahin volunteered to create teh statue. It depicts Tombili in her famous pose, and it was installed in her usual spot.
The statue was unveiled on October 4, World Animal Protection Day.
It’s a way for people to come and remember their old friend… humans and animals alike.
One photo shows a cat coming to pay respects for the late icon:
Rest in peace, Tombili! You’re gone but never forgotten.
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