In a city crawling with cats, it takes a fabulous feline to truly stand out. Enter Tombili, a chubby white-bellied tabby cat with a peculiar penchant for slouching against steps rather than sitting atop them. Her friendly nature made her a beloved resident of Istanbul’s Ziverbey neighborhood. She was, as locals were quick to realize, a cool cat.
Tombili’s fame spread beyond her usual haunts after an image of her lounging in her preferred pose went viral online and became a meme. In the picture, she leans against a step, one paw draped over her tubby white tummy while the other rests atop the concrete. She’s poised as if about to ask a question, perhaps a casual inquiry about how long you’ve been coming to the neighborhood, before launching into her own life story.
If you’re a cat person with access to the internet, you’ve likely come across the image. The “Chill Cat” meme puts Tombili in a myriad of scenarios: settled on a lavish couch, beckoning someone to “paint her like one of their French girls;” dressed up like Julius Caesar, complete with a Roman toga; or lazed across her chosen perch with a drink.
Sadly, the beloved cat died in August of 2016. The district mayor commemorated the famous feline by installing a sculpture of Tombili in her iconic pose atop a step on World Animal Day. The sculpture was stolen a month after its installation, but after much public outcry, the thieves returned it to its original spot. People still visit to pay their respects to the internet star.
Visit Istanbul with Atlas Obscura Trips
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