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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 18:35 IST

Tombili the Istanbul cat, internet sensation, forever honored with bronze statue

City authorities in Istanbul have commemorated 'Tombili,' the rotund cat from the Ziverbey neighbourhood, following local demand for a tribute to his memory.

Digital Desk
Tombili
City authorities in Istanbul have commemorated 'Tombili,' the rotund cat from the Ziverbey neighbourhood, following local demand for a tribute to his memory. | Image:X-@MickySoliven
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Istanbul, Turkey: City authorities in Istanbul have commemorated 'Tombili,' the rotund cat from the Ziverbey neighbourhood, following local demand for a tribute to his memory. Tombili, a Turkish term for chubby pets, gained global fame when a photo of him lounging on the pavement went viral earlier this year. Residents of Ziverbey admired his nonchalant demeanour, and the cat became a social media sensation, with users sharing edited images and captions in jest.

How ‘Tombili’ cat find fame?

The cat gained fame late in life and passed away in August after a mysterious month-long illness, according to reports by Hurriyet News. Flyers mourning his loss with messages like, “You will live on in our hearts, mascot of our street” appeared in the neighbourhood. Responding to a change.org petition with 17,000 signatures, the Kadıköy Municipality decided to commemorate Tombili’s contribution to public life officially.

Renowned local sculptor Seval Şahin crafted a bronze statue recreating the cat’s famous pose, and the inauguration took place on October 4, World Animal Day. The ceremony attracted hundreds of people who left candles, cat food, and flowers to pay their respects, garnering coverage on Turkish TV. At the event, Kadıköy deputy mayor Başar Necipoğlu expressed gratitude to the area's animal lovers for making the memorial possible.

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Istanbul is known for its affection for cats, with the city home to hundreds of thousands of strays well cared for by locals. The city's love for cats is deeply ingrained, reflected in sayings such as, “If you kill a cat, you need to build a mosque to gain God’s forgiveness.”

This saying is believed to originate from a folktale about Prophet Mohammed’s favourite pet, a cat named Muezza. Legend has it that, rather than disturb the cat sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe, Mohammed cut the sleeve off with scissors to leave her undisturbed. Another version of the story credits Muezza with saving the prophet from a deadly snake, earning cats their reputation for always landing on their feet.

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 18:35 IST

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