Tombili did not have a human to call his own – he had thousands! The chubby street cat was cherished by the people of Istanbul, Turkey for his friendly demeanor and signature laid-back posture.
Tombili’s local fame became global when a viral photo of him lounging on the sidewalk made him an internet star just months before his death.
This week a statue honoring the tomcat and the impact he had on the city was unveiled. It features a very relaxed, aloof Tombili lounging on his favorite stoop, watching the comings and goings of the city. Locals have brought gifts of kibble and tea in his memory.
Sadly, the real Tombili became ill in August and eventually passed away. A fan created a makeshift memorial and pinned it to a tree near his favorite spot with his famous photo and a heartfelt message that translates:
“You will live in our hearts. Mascot of our street, beloved TOMBILI lost his struggle for life after a month and closed his eyes to life on first of August.”
Although this tribute was genuine and moving, the world wanted more for the cat who had meant so much to them. A Change.org petition calling for an official Tombili statue began to circulate, eventually gathering more than 17,000 signatures according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
Vefa nedir biliyor musunuz? Vefa Tombili’dir… “Bir kedi işte” diyerek geçilebilirdi ama öyle olmadı. Çok teşekkür…
The city of Istanbul decided to honor the wishes of Tombili’s many fans and approved the statue. The sculpture features him striking the pose that made him an internet sensation – left elbow cocked and resting on the top step, rear legs dangling casually, and ample belly proudly displayed for the world to see.
The official inauguration of the statue was scheduled for October 4 – World Animal Day, but its presence has already had an affect on the people – and cats – of Instanbul.
Tombili represented the carefree nature and kind spirit that only an animal can truly achieve. He brought smiles to the faces of countless passersby, and then to internet users across the globe. Now that goodness and purity will live on forever, reminding the world of the kitty that touched their hearts.