The cat’s aloof charisma has long captured our attention and adoration, now with its ubiquitous virtual presence matching its real-life fandom. A costant influx of cat videos online showcases their versatility and charm, and a live-action remake of the beloved Broadway musical promises to elevate the felines’ status even further.
From making huge amounts of money for their looks and charm to becoming cause ambassadors, you can’t ignore the power and influence of the cat. Always camera-ready and poised, you’d be that nonchalantly confident too if you had nine lives.
For all the ailurophiles out there, trips to these places demonstrate feline devotion while showing you that the love for this animal has deep roots and transcends geography.
Lucky Cat Temple, Japan
As the home of Hello Kitty, and boasting reputable cat ownership statistics, it’s safe to say that Tokyo loves cats. But as further evidence, the Gotokuji Temple in Setagaya ward reveals an obsession that borderlines fanaticism. The birthplace of the maneki-neko (beckoning cat), is filled with replicas of the iconic waving statue. Dedicated in gratitude to the feline, you can almost feel the good fortune being invited into the compound by the statues’ pleasant demeanours.
Kuching, the City of Cats
The etymology of this Sarawak city has been lost in translation. Arguments have been made that its name actually comes from a fruit, while others attribute it to local plumbing. Nevertheless, the city embraces the symbolism with a staggering number of statues, shops and museums dedicating reverent tributes. In particular, the Cat Museum in Petra Jaya offers a comprehensive and extensive insight into the significance of these creatures throughout the archipelago’s history.
Visit Gli, the Hagia Sophia’s Glamour Puss
Istanbul is a mecca for cat lovers, with furry friends found all over the city. From side streets to famous attractions, you’ll find a cat ready for their closeup with a smouldering glare. Such is their prominence that a documentary featured them in 2016.
Within the ornate interiors of this stunning Byzantine cathedral, its resident feline has garnered celebrity status, greeting visitors from behind the ropes, where emperors were crowned. Not everyone gets a cathedral as a playground, and Gli certainly makes the most of it. Whether enjoying the sunlight or winning the hearts of famous visitors, she revels in the royal treatment.
Spot majestic Bengal tigers at Ranthambore National Park
With a feral reputation as distinctive as its striped coat, the tiger is an untameable, noble member of the cat family. Beheld with equal measures of awe and fear, it’s a humbling sensation to encounter one in the wild. Here, at one of India’s largest national parks, these creatures are the highlight in an array of flora and fauna worth experiencing. Watching their solemn faces as they pass you by, you forget to breathe, soaking in the aura of these indomitable beasts.
See Africa’s Big Cats at Serengeti National Park
For unforgettable visions of the titans of the feline kingdom, taking a safari trip lets you see them up close as they roam the plains. At this conservation sanctuary in Tanzania, tours will guide you through the habitats of lions, cheetahs, and leopards, steadfastly protected and allowed to exude their glory in peace. Plus, if you love animals in general, there are fewer better exhibitions than the African savannah.
Cat’s Parade in Ypres, Belgium
This Belgian town had a dark, superstitious tradition of tossing cats off the roof of the bell tower to curb the burgeoning feline population and expel witchcraft. It was a horrific treatment of these creatures who had kept the rat population in check. In response, the Kattenstoet was started to commemorate and condemn the past.
Held once every three years, it’s now a grand celebration of the cat, with parades and thousands festooned in feline garb. Besides the giant cat floats, participants who catch a plush toy in their hands get to make a wish.
Houtong Cat Village, Taiwan
‘No dogs’ is the golden rule in this verdant village northeast of Taipei, home to a primary population of cats, outnumbering the villagers who double as caretakers. With kitty-themed cafes and shops, the main draw is still roaming the streets and swooning over the adorable residents, spending a perfect day with your favourite animal.
Even with rules forbidding anyone from leaving their unwanted pets here, the sizeable gathering of strays has remained constant. If you wish to lend a hand in maintaining these feline inhabitants, you can volunteer with like-minded individuals.
The Netherlands’ capital is known for its canals and houseboats as much as its liberal attitudes. It’s nice to know that cats here get to enjoy living upon the water as well. This unique floating sanctuary is a houseboat-turned-refuge for feline strays, with a passionate team of volunteers continuing the work of its founder, Henriette.
You can shower some love and affection upon the cats and receive some feline attention in return. To make the cats happier, leave a donation as you depart. While you’re in town, also check out the Kattenkabinet, a museum venerating the topic of cat-related art with extensive collections on the subject.
Tashirojima, Cat Island, Japan
Wes Anderson might have dedicated an entire stop-motion film to an island of canines, but cats have a real-live version. As Cat Island’s human population has dwindled to one hundred, the feral feline population has surged. There’s no better place to lavish your love for felines than here, armed with bags of cat food. Pampering the already well-fed and well-cared for feline population, you might get some solid karma points as you care for these bearers of good fortune and prosperity. By the way, this is just one of 12 such islands in Japan.
Visit The Hermitage’s Cats in St. Petersburg, Russia
Imagine living amongst one of the world’s most renowned art collections. Cats have resided in the basement since the 18th century, initially to keep mice and rats from trespassing on the premises. Fortunate visitors can catch a glimpse of them roaming the halls, even stopping to pose for a picture or two. Different talents spread across the group, from rat-catching to being uncannily sensitive to negative energy. But their charismatic presence is a common thread. You’re sure to be charmed if you get to visit.
With a growing number of cat festivals and international cat day events, an increasing number are making a case for these elegant creatures to receive the adoration and love they deserve. From being worshipped like gods to being inheritors of celebrity fortunes, the history of the cat is extravagant and surprising.
Freud himself said: “Time with cats is never wasted.” So besides cat cafes, head over to these places and show these felines how much you love them.