Istanbul, Turkey, is without a doubt one of the best places to be a cat. In Istanbul, cats reign supreme, and the town’s many strays are cuddled, fed, and cared for by locals. In fact, one Turkish saying even goes: “If you kill a cat, you need to build a mosque to gain God’s forgiveness.” It originates from a story regarding the Prophet Mohammed and Muezza, his beloved cat.
Although all Turkish cats are praised for their companionship and beauty, one cat named Tombili seems to have been loved beyond the rest— even being honored with her very own bronze statue!
Tombili (which is a Turkish word for ‘chubby’) is a round little kitty who found fame as a result of her ultra-relaxed demeanor. Tombili would often roam Istanbul’s Ziverby neighborhood, in the district of Kadikoy, where she became well-known by the locals for her general nonchalance.
At one point, Tombili was lounging around town when someone snapped a hilarious photo of the chubby cat. The picture was then uploaded online and shared thousands of times on social media. From that moment on, Tombili became an instant celebrity.
As often happens on the internet, people started creating Photoshopped versions of the little cat. They just couldn’t get enough of her cattitude and pose.
Tombili lived a happy, carefree life until she passed away in August of 2016 as a result of a month-long illness.
The entire world grieved her death. Flyers were distributed around the neighborhood, reading “You will live in our heart, mascot of our street”— and locals even petitioned the government to memorialize the relaxed kitty in some special way.
After getting over 17,000 signatures of support on their petition, the town agreed to set up a bronze Tombili statue. Local sculptor Seval Sahin was contracted to do the work, and the results were to be unveiled on October 4th— in honor of World Animal Day. Here is Sahin posing with her sculpture:
One month after being erected, the town’s Tombili statue was stolen. It seems the thief may have had a change of heart, however, because, following the public outcry, it was immediately returned.
Tombili made a huge difference in the lives of locals and people everywhere. And although she is no longer with us, the chubby, carefree, kitty will now be remembered by the world.
Watch Tombili’s story below!
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