Tombili’s Legacy: A Tale of Love, Loss, and the Istanbul Streets

Explore the heartwarming story of Tombili, the beloved stray cat of Istanbul, and how her plump charm and easygoing spirit became a symbol of love and compassion on the city streets. From her humble beginnings to a bronze statue in her honor, discover Tombili’s impact on the Turkish stray cat community and beyond.

In the vibrant tapestry of Istanbul, where stray cats roam freely, Tombili emerged as an extraordinary figure, transcending the ordinary tales of feline wanderers. Despite lacking a designated owner, she carved a special place in the hearts of the locals through her plump physique and a habit of leisurely reclining on the Kadıköy sidewalk.


Istanbul, renowned for its multitude of stray cats, went beyond the ordinary in integrating these feline friends into daily life. This unique bond was showcased in the documentary film “Kedi,” emphasizing the city’s distinct relationship with its wandering cats.

Among the myriad of strays, Tombili stood out with her easygoing demeanor, earning the title of the residents’ favorite street cat. Known as the “Tombili,” a term for plump cats in Turkish, she exuded an impression of having life all figured out. Her fame soared when pictures of her casually reclining on the sidewalk went viral, revealing a sympathetic quality that resonated with people far beyond Istanbul.


Tragically, Tombili passed away on August 1, 2016, leaving a void in the hearts of those who had come to love her. However, her significance to the neighborhood prompted the people of Istanbul to make a lasting tribute to this major figure in the Turkish stray cat community – a bronze statue.

The decision to honor Tombili’s legacy with a statue was fueled by a petition initiated by distraught townspeople. The campaign’s success led artist Seval Şahin to craft a lifelike representation of Tombili, placed in her regular spot on the Kadıköy sidewalk, immortalizing her in her well-known posture.


On October 4, World Animal Protection Day, the Tombili statue was unveiled, serving as a poignant place for people to visit and remember their former companion. This bronze figure not only commemorates Tombili but also stands as a symbol of the enduring connections between humans and animals.

A touching image captures a cat paying respects to the deceased figure, echoing the sentiment of the community: “Rest in peace, Tombili! You’re gone but never forgotten.” In the heart of Istanbul, Tombili’s legacy lives on, a testament to the power of love and compassion that transcends species and echoes through the cobbled streets of Kadıköy.

Written by Methma

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