Tombili was one of the many street cats in Istanbul. A statue was erected to honour her and this is the story behind it.
Cities in Turkey are famous with cats roaming free. Although the cats live o streets, it is hard to call them strays or feral cats. They co-habit with people for centuries. They are part of urban culture in Turkey. Recently an award-winning documentary on the lives of cats in Istanbul was in cinemas, as you may have seen it already.
Individuals, and sometimes municipalities, take care of the needs of these beloved neighbours by feeding them and taking care of their health issues. For winter times, some individuals, NGOs and municipalities locate cat houses on streets to help them to survive in colder days.
Tombili was a beloved cat citizen of Istanbul and roamed on her street for almost 10 years. She became an internet celebrity when his famous pose is posted on the net. Tombili means chubby in Turkish and she is called as Tombili by her fellow humans for obvious reasons. A statue was erected on her favourite spot for her memory after her death.
People loved her so much. She became a mascot for the street with her laid back lifestyle. After her death, people started a petition to honour her and collected more than 17000 signature, which let them erect the statue in October 2016. I am not quite sure if it is the only street cat statue in the world, but it took attention from the media all over the world.
Unfortunately, not everyone values the friendship between Tombili and fellow humans. The statue was stolen in November in the same year, almost within a month after its opening. It sparked an outrage. Social media outlets were flooded with anger from people condemning the culprits.
Kadikoy municipality, the council which erected the statue, twitted “It is stolen” with a crying cat emoji:
The thieves could not be indifferent to this massive outcry, and returned the statue to its place within a week. The statue is now on Ziverbey Street, Kadikoy, where it belongs. Tombili is still in her neighbours’ lives with this statue.
The Tombili statue on Ziverbey Street (Image Credit: Tombili Facebook Page)
And this is the story of Tombili and her legacy.
Tombili (Image Credit: Anadolu Kedisi / Huffington Post)