"Tombili" the cat was a much-loved icon in his little neighborhood of Ziverbey in Istanbul. The portly puss had been a local institution for years, but became world famous after his image was shared online by the viral site 9GAG, and later across social media sites.
Now Tombili—an affectionate nickname, based on a Turkish word often used for chubby pets—has crossed the bridge due to age-related illness. Within a month of his passing, local residents delivered a petition to the mayor with over 17,000 signatures, demanding that a permanent memorial to Tombili be erected.
Flyers around the neighborhood mourning his loss and reading, "You will live on in our hearts, mascot of our street" appeared before the idea for a more permanent tribute took hold. Local sculptor Seval Şahin agreed to make a bronze sculpture recreating the cat's famous pose.
The statue was revealed today, October 4th, to coincide with World Animal Day. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects, leaving candles, cat food, and flowers.
One anonymous kitty even stopped by to pay a private tribute of her own.
At the ceremony, Kadıköy deputy mayor Başar Necipoğlu thanked the animal lovers of the area for making the memorial possible.
Fly free, little Tombili. You will be missed—and always remembered.
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