Even though they don’t belong to us, cats can become a vital part of our life. Many communities are overrun with stray cats who have no owners but manage to survive thanks to the compassion of strangers who make it a habit of feeding and sheltering them.
Istanbul is famous not only for the sheer quantity of stray cats, but also for how deeply interwoven they are in daily life—to the point where they have their own documentary film, Kedi.
One stray cat in particular stood out among the thousands of stray animals roaming the Turkish city… and the city made sure she’d be remembered for a long time.
Locals had a thing for a street cat named Tombili, which is a traditional Turkish moniker for overweight cats.
Tombili was a cat who seemed to have it all figured out, with her big body and habit of lounging on the sidewalk in a very peaceful stance.
When images of her famed pose went viral, she became even more famous. There’s just something about this cat that is so sympathetic.
People would often pay Tombili a visit at her normal place on the pavement in the Kadköy area, where she would be lying around without a care in the world.
She had a wonderful life… Tombili, however, passed away on August 1, 2016.
Most stray cats would be forgotten, but because Tombili was such a beloved member of the society, Istanbul residents chose to pay tribute to her legacy as a symbol of the Turkish stray cat community in a large way:
They made a statue of her!
Locals were heartbroken and organized a Change.org petition to have a statue erected in honor of the world-famous stray.
“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 states.
The campaign was a success, and an artist named Seval ahin offered to make the monument.
It was placed in Tombili’s normal area and represents her in her renowned posture.
On October 4, World Animal Protection Day, the statue was unveiled.
It’s a place where people can come to remember former friends, both humans and animals.
A cat appears in one photo to pay homage to the late icon: