Tombili, the pudgy cat whose relaxing demeanor captured the hearts of fans worldwide, has been honored with a bronze statue in her home city of Istanbul, Turkey.
The cuddly feline — whose name is a Turkish word often used for chubby pets — was a beloved figure in the neighborhood of Ziverbey, the Daily Sabah reports.
“Tombili was a freely living cat, like most cats in Turkey,” Batu Aksoy, one of the founders of the Anatolian Cat Project, told The Huffington Post in a Facebook message. “The community took care of her.” While some media reports refer to Tombili as a “he,” Aksoy said she was a female.
Tombili shot to online fame after someone snapped a photo of her reclining outside. It’s unclear when she became known outside of her local neighborhood, but the photo appears at the top of a 9Gag post from February 2015.
When she died in August after an illness, someone put up a poster in the neighborhood as a tribute. But a cat as awesome as Tombili deserved more than just a poster.
The Anatolian Cat Project — an educational community for cat lovers — launched a petition asking that the neighborhood have a statue erected to commemorate the popular feline. Artist Seval Şahin stepped up to the challenge, and the bronze sculpture was unveiled on Tuesday — World Animal Day.
Tombili was a “very friendly cat,” Aksoy said, which unfortunately may have led to some of her health problems.
“[The] neighborhood loved her so much and used to feed her a lot,” he added.
And she seems to have gotten along better with humans than with other lines.
“Tombili was [a] very proud cat and did not like [to] spend her time with other cats,” Aksoy said. “Because of obesity, she could not move much, so preferred calmly to lie on [the] sidewalk.”
Free-roaming cats like Tombili are a common sight in Istanbul, where the city’s residents offer food, shelter and care to the resident rodent-killers. The region’s love for cats has roots in Islam — the Prophet Mohammad is said to have adored cats, legendarily opting to cut a sleeve off of his robe, rather than disturb his feline companion sleeping on top of it.